Bad web design is always fascinating. Just head over to /r/crappydesign and take some examples in. I mean, look at this. Horrible frames and things all over the places. I mean, sites like that are just embarrassing.
But there’s a difference between badly designed stuff like that, and a deliberately toxic user experience. The former is at least excusable on the grounds of insufficient technical proficiency, but the latter is altogether very different. These websites are made by people who know exactly what they are doing, and the end result is still horrible.
And by far the worst culprit for this, at least in my experience, is Answers.com.
What is Answers.com? Well, imagine Wikipedia…
And that’s about it. Except it’s worse. Like if Wikipedia somehow merged with Buzzfeed & Upworthy, and everything terrible on the internet. It’s distilled clickbait and pretty much fundamentally unnecessary in every way.
So before you’ve even got there, it’s bad design. A site called ANSWERS.COM should be something simple. A portal for getting information you need quickly and easily, without any frills. But… nope!
On the odd chance you get to Answers.com by going direct to the home page (rather than via Google or a social media reference), you are greeted with this:
Yup, a welcome screen taking up the entire page and blocking all of the site’s content. Nice!
And what’s in this welcome pop-up? A sign-up/login screen! You can even sign in with your social network profile! But why? Why would I want to do that? I want Answers, not friends. Ironically, this is perhaps the least welcoming thing they could have used to greet you when you come to the site.
Thankfully though, you can just close it via the minuscule ‘x’ in the top right corner. So yeah, thanks for the completely unnecessary obstructions there guys. Surely it can only get better after this?
So the biggest thing on the front page right now is a featured article about budget hotels on Grand Bahama Island. There’s always the chance that this was the exact thing I was looking for an answer on, but that’s gotta be the longest shot of all time. For most people coming for information, that’s going to just be irrelevant.
Down the left there’s some topics to pick from, but they’re pretty vague. And over on the right are useless lists of “experts you should follow” and “categories you should follow.” I have no intention of doing that. I just want ANSWERS.
Let’s just use the search then.
Searching for Shrek brings up some interesting stuff. There’s a little synopsis there, although it was unhelpfully “Last updated: June 21, 2004.” Maybe there’s some more up-to-date info elsewhere on here…
Ah, this is why I came to Answers.com. So I could read the ENTIRE WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE, just hosted on another site. Seriously, it’s just the whole thing – just in a slightly harder to read form. Why?!
There’s also a whole Questions section which, like the infamous Yahoo Answers, fosters a thriving community of people asking and answering questions. Questions like…
Nice cropped photo of Donkey there! And a misspelling of “Shrek” as “Sherek” that apparently 11 people found useful. There’s clearly no kind of quality control going on whatsoever. And all the time this is placed right next to questions like “Does Acts of the Apostles Make Paul a Lesser Character In The Early Church?” The juxtaposition is entirely baffling.
And of course, the rest of the content that fills up the site is just terrible.
“Things aren’t everything” is a paradoxical mind-bender that my degree in philosophy is failing to help me even begin to understand.
To conclude then, here are the Top 5 Ways To Avoid Designing A Terrible Website
And there you go. Actual answers to an actual topic. Actually rather easy.