Over The Top Websites That Make You Cringe

Quite a bit has been said and written about web designing. Countless number of books and tutorials guide you on what to keep in mind when making a great site while a slew of articles warn you about the mistakes you should steer clear of. Then we have experts frequently opining about how to enhance user experience by maintaining a delicate balance between creativity and functionality.

In fact, if you started wading through all the educative content out there, it would take you several months (and I am being really, really optimistic here) to read them all, by which time they would have added another few month’s worth of resources to the library. So, in short, there’s plenty of matter out there, if you are really, really serious about making a good, or even half-way decent website.

And yet, by an amazing and inexplicable quirk of chance, some designers have managed to escape reading EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THOSE ARTICLES. How else can you explain away these atrocious websites? Each of the specimens featured here are a violent attack on the senses and can drive any decent web designer into a fit of suicidal rage. Even those who don’t know the first thing about designing will be appalled and forced to take a few steps back from their computer screens.

Without further ado, I present to you design abominations that have taken the shape of websites. Much as you may want to look away, a human being’s primal fascination with all things morbid will compel you to keep reading right to the end, by which time, you will be so exhausted, you won’t have the energy to do anything else.

1. The After Life

Bad Web Design - The After Life

“Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!” was my reaction when I first saw this site (and before it burned my eyes out through the back of my skull!). My second reaction, after sanity finally took control, was to wonder why anybody would want to make such a site at all. What is the point of this page at all except to demonstrate what an epic web design disaster would look like?

The really ugly GIFs, grainy animation, the endless upward scrolling, the flashing lights, obese cherubs, and half a dozen other grotesque elements combine to give you the biggest headache of your life, probably even a seizure! If this is what my journey to heaven will look like, I’d much rather turn around and go the other way faster than you’ll be able to say “Afterlife!”

2. Don Swanson Racing School

Bad Web Design - Don Swanson Racing School

Don Swanson might be a swell performance driving school, but it’s clear that they have no eye for design at all. Their website is a textbook case of all the things that can go wrong in web design. It’s such a long list, where do I even begin?

Okay, let’s start with the content. That’s a merry mix of colors they have used for their text, alternating between mustard yellow, lime green, white, bright blue, and startling red with such abandon, it makes you feel queasy just looking at the text. And the fact that they are all set against a pitch black background in no way helps tone down the effect.

Throw in some animated GIFs, page dividers, centered text, (O Lord, centered bullet lists too!) and you have the web design equivalent of roadkill. Having looked at the disaster that is this website, I would be extremely hesitant before I trusted THIS driving school with the well-being of my limbs. No, thank you. I am just going to head over to their competition.

3. Burlington News

Going through the contents of this site is a bit like walking through the apartment of a compulsive hoarder. Content has been stacked pell-mell all over the site and it’s up to visitors to sort through it and find whatever it is that is relevant to them. Or just stand around wondering what fury of nature caused this chaos.

Bad Web Design - Burlington News

To the uninitiated soul like me, the purpose of the site was completely lost. After 5 minutes of reading through the text (a task not made any easier by the neon font and odd job selection of typefaces), I was able to glean that the site was related to all things mysterious and paranormal. However, by that time, I was neither interested nor sufficiently intrigued to continue any further. I DID hope that the site owner would be kidnapped by the very aliens she was documenting, so we’d all be spared the ordeal of having to face this monstrosity … even by chance!

4. Arngren

Bad Web Design - Arngren

As a member of the fairer sex, I enjoy shopping, be it in a brick-and-mortar establishment or an online shop. However, this is one site that makes me want to swear off my much-loved pastime for life. Imagine stepping into a shop where there are no aisles, no arrangement, no layout, no signs … in fact, not even so much as a helpful attendant to guide you to the section of your choice. That won’t be much fun now, would it?

This web site is the embodiment of mayhem. There is a navigation menu on the left, but it is barely distinguishable from the rest of the clutter. And the horizontal scroll does tend to test your patience a fair bit.

I don’t know what kind of a footfall this website attracts, but I am guessing the only people who patronize this page are those who have a very strong resolve, along with a whole bottle of aspirins by their side, and probably a pair of those glasses that protect your eyes from harm. Trust me, you will need them all.

5. The Bombshell Manual of Style

Bad Web Design - The Bombshell Manual of Style

Laren Stover’s book, “The Bombshell Manual of Style,” may have enjoyed some success in literary circles, but the website falls flat like a dud bomb. There are so many features offensive to my design sensibilities that I had to exercise great restraint not to launch a thermo-nuclear missile at the guy/girl who dreamed this website up.

Where is the navigation? What’s with all the low-res graphics? Why are we walking a tiny dog across the screen? Are they seriously making visitors tidy up ‘panties’ scattered across the screen? And didn’t they get the memo – FLASH IS DEAD?

Perhaps it’s time they got a second edition for their website … a cyber reprint as it were? It certainly is highly recommended.

6. Penny Juice?

Bad Web Design - Penny Juice?

Penny Juice is a “100% blended fruit juice concentrate” that has been “created for kid taste, in exciting flavors and colors“. But when I see the website, I keep asking myself who it has been created for. The bizarre rainbow effect they have going on is obviously meant to attract children, which is strange because I don’t see what a child would be doing on their site.

On the other hand, their real audience (purchase agents, administrators, and probably concerned parents) will hardly be able to tolerate the eye-hurting use of colors. I am guessing that a toddler let loose with a box of crayons would have managed to come up with a more pleasing effect.

But, that isn’t the only crime the web designer is guilty of. Centered text, inconsistent use of regular and All Caps text, and awful color contrast have helped achieve what the designer hardly intended – being included in this list of the worst possible websites ever.

7. Colorado Ranger Horse Association

Bad Web Design - Colorado Ranger Horse Association

I love horses and everything about horses. They are magnificent creatures – gentle, loyal, intelligent, and an epitome of speed and strength. Anything equine related has a special appeal for me … except this website.

When I first saw it, I had to blink a few times to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating and then a few more times to take in all that I was seeing. Are they kidding me with that blue background? And, of course, nothing says horses like a hundred flashing stars, right?

And, horrors of horrors, did they really think they would get away with using PageMill? I mean, that thing may have been a rage in the 90’s, but a decade and a half later, there is no excuse for using it at all. To add insult to injury, the centered text in light yellow is a perfect example of how certain colors do not go well with each other.

Move on to their History page, and you are confronted with more centered unreadable text that, without warning, transitions into justified text which is equally unreadable and headache-inducing. I can see how people who land up here will want to get into their riding boots, climb onto their favorite appaloosa … and gallop as far away from this website as possible!


There, there … it’s over now! You can uncover your eyes and look at the screen normally. I apologize for putting you through so much agony … but hey, this was an article about creativity gone berserk. What did you expect? I admit that no person should have to undergo the torture of looking at all these websites at one go, but you can take heart in knowing that you won’t have to repeat this exercise ever, ever again.

On the bright side, having worked with Addictive Media, I take heart from the fact that for every horrible website you come across, there’s an equally dedicated designer burning the midnight oil to give you something unique, beautiful, and functional.

Now, turn off the computer, have your favorite burger, treat yourself to a fine dinner, book tickets to Disneyland, cuddle up with your pooch, play ball with your kids… do whatever it takes to put this trauma behind you. And if you have any web design horror stories of your own, feel free to share them with me in the comments section. Go in peace, friends. Tomorrow will be a new day.

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  1. these designs made by beginner or who offer less price for design. I don’t how people live these kind of sites. Sharon you shared great insight on cheap design stuff.

  2. was really quite nice.

  3. My head hurts. My poor eyes.

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