What Makes A Bad Design (Updated 2021)

When designing your website, there are a lot of ways that you need to sort out before actually doing it. You have to know what you like and how you want to deliver the brand. Most of the time, people skip out on drafting a site layout which can make the designing process more difficult. 

bad website design

Whether you’re working with a professional or doing it yourself using website builders, you have to establish a theme which will dictate the overall look and vibe of your website. This is a direct representation of your brand and will affect how users or consumers view your content and drive an impact towards their experience as well that’s why it’s very important. A design theme will also help ensure coherence and consistency in the elements present on your website. If you’re not working with a theme, chances are the website will have an “all-over-the-place” kind of vibe which will not give you any clicks. 

As much as a design can go in many directions depending upon your preferences, there’s also a lot of other ways that it could also go bad and that’s not how you want it to go. 

Principles of Bad Website Design

bad website design

There really are no rules when it comes to designing, only guiding principles that can help you while you’re starting out. These are good points to take note of especially if you have no background experience on design. Personal style and brand identity are important to exude in your website and following these design principles can take you to that goal. 

A lot of blogs and resources have offered expertise and their different takes on what makes a good design. But today, we present you a list of all the ways that it could go wrong. 


Design can cut into two components which are (1) aesthetic and content and (2) functionality. These two are the main things holding a website together.  To ease discussion, let’s categorize all the bad website designs into these two. 

aesthetic and content

Theme 404

 If you are not familiar, 404 is used with Error 404 Not Found when you search for a website that has been taken down. In this context, Theme 404 meaning there’s no theme found at all. We’ve mentioned this a bit earlier. Again, when you skip out on a theme the result will be a mix of everything. Nothing is connected and you can not make the user focus on what you want to say which defeats the purpose of your website. It’s like a circus where everything is interesting although as a big picture, it looks very confusing. 

Using more than 3 base colors

When you don’t have a theme, it breaks all cohesion and consistency of the website. In actuality, it branches out into a lot more specific design issues. Theme usually sets the color palette which is mainly the colors of the brand but without it, base colors get disconnected.

Aside from that, there is the common mistake of just picking nice colors instead of also considering which is right (which also affects the functionality of the website). Tip: You can use tints to expand your color palette. It’s also best to read on color theories and study a lot of other websites to give you an idea. 

Using more than 3 typefaces and sizes

There’s quite an extensive typography principle that you can read on but a very common one is to limit your typefaces to 2 or 3. This is to achieve coherence in terms of design. Otherwise, it looks cluttered and it also distracts the attention of reader or user from the brand identity.

It’s also important to utilize text themes by using different font sizes. If you use more than 3, emphasis on certain texts will not be as effective and the same goes as with mixing a lot of typefaces. 

Using fancy fonts

 There are the serif fonts like Times New Roman, the sans serif, and the pretty fonts. It’s good to get a mix of these but stay out of too much use of fancy fonts. Sometimes, pretty and fancy just do not work. It’s too distracting and not to mention hard to read which also affects the content digestion. Anything that can’t be read properly at first scan, will be skipped entirely. 

Lack of contrast 

Having a clear and powerful contrast between the components can assist every user in realizing the core information on the page. It encourages every user to take time to read and understand the info on your website. What makes a bad design is that, for instance, the text color and background color are pretty much similar, which leaves a very weak contrast. The poor contrast causes the content to get blurry to the eye. Additionally, the small font size makes the clarity of the content very much poor. 

Inconsistent style

If ever that you want to keep the page smooth and brief, at that point don’t utilize so many elements of various styles. What makes a bad website is that the text area utilizes differentiating colors and diverse font sizes to highlight the information. However, the content on the second level additionally utilizes a highlight blue tone, which as a matter of fact, breaks the balance and unity hierarchical interface.

Where did the white space go?

 White space is healthy. Condensed words and single spaced content isn’t! White space gives the user to breathe and focus on texts where you put emphasis. So don’t be afraid to put some space. 

“Short paragraphs get read, long paragraphs get skimmed, and really long paragraphs get skipped.” 

This is a very sensible web design tip from James Fried. It’s a major blunder to put too much content in your website because this just means you’re not really adept yet at marketing your brand. As they say, when you really understand a concept, you can explain it better and shorter words.

The same logic goes with marketing. You want content that has impact on the reader and not some overloaded information. Put yourself as the reader, will you really read that block of words?

bad website design


 The purpose of your website will always be to communicate with the user so avoid using jargons. Talk to them to sell your brand to them. Big words won’t get you too far. 

Too many questions

Content should be obvious and self-explanatory. You must not have your consumers think too much about your brand that it seeds confusion. Get rid of all the questions and answer the user’s questions or pain points! Users usually search to get answers to questions so give them that. Isn’t it annoying to get into a website and go scroll through pages and get nothing because it was just full of loops? In terms of content, always take the position of your reader or user. It will be helpful to design content that is user-friendly. 

bad website design

Don’t put stock images! 

Authenticity is the key in website design. Although it cannot be prevented in totality to not use stock photos but keep it to a minimum. Add art like icons or vector art! Put videos to pull the attention of your user towards content. 

In summary for aesthetic, stick to a theme to play around. Everything that is too much is never good for designs. Keep it minimal and clean. For content, keep it short, complete, and concise! Put emphasis where emphasis is needed. 

The second component is functionality.

Some do not really put too much attention to this but once it goes complicated and hard to navigate, people realize its importance in a website. 

Home on the right

 Play conventions to your advantage as it establishes trust in users. Convention is familiarity. Home is always placed on the left to make it effective as well in terms of functionality. Placing it anywhere other than that loses its purpose.

Social Media Integrations at the top

These are major distractions and putting these at the top will urge users to connect to those and will be less likely to get back to the site. 

User Registration and Subscription Logins

Have you ever gone through a website where these things pop off the screen? Things like these are very distracting and to some extent also very annoying. Some just want to visit and not fill out information. This discourages users to stay in your website and see what you have to offer. You’ve never seen a user click “X” than when it sees a popup like that! 

Not-responsive design 

Using a responsive design structure or adopting other available better solutions is important. Your site page needs to run on mobile devices easily as it does on the site. What makes it a bad website is that, when loading on a mobile phone, it still shows the whole page with quite a poor interface of plaintexts. It doesn’t have a mobile version to see, so it cannot be used on the smartphone. If I were the user, I would simply abandon a site this way. 

Too complicated!

The best designs are those who take in simplicity to its design core. Simple website designs are very easy to navigate through which will make the user’s experience smooth. It’s never good to put too much complication in your functions especially when you have a wide audience. Designs should exude your brand and personality but its general functionality should be geared towards the user. 

Poor navigation and operations

The greatest feature of navigation for a site is always self-evident. At the point whenever a user signs onto your site, he/she ought to comprehend what they can do straight away and what moves to make to reach their destination. The navigation must be attractive and ought to often be located on the top of the page.

Likewise, the interactions, as well as the navigation content, should be clear, so don’t utilize the horizontal scroll bar or other bizarre animation design. On the off chance that you do, you ought to at any rate give the users a few clues to tell them how your site functions. 

website testing

Lack of testing

They say it’s better to test on one user rather than not testing at all. This is an important part for web designers to ensure that everything in the site runs smoothly. Otherwise it can cost you a potential customer! It’s best to do test runs from time to time to make sure that everything is working fine. 

Above are a few lists of bad websites. However, other website design mistakes likewise exist: 

  1. Automatically playing music (without informing or notifying the user). 
  2. Long page load times. The additional time it takes to load, the almost certain the user will leave your site. 
  3. The page is too long. How many users do you believe are keen on going right down to the lower part of your page? Try not to attempt to test the patience of the users.
  4. Lapsed data. Data that isn’t updated will mislead the users and make your site look unprofessional. 
  5. Isolated page. The user doesn’t have the foggiest idea on how to revisit or return to the home page. These offer such a terrible experience for the users. 
  6. Missing interactive substance. If you can’t give such a way to users to communicate feelings and thoughts, your site may gradually bite the dust.

Before you build and design your own website, know your preferences and your brand identity and more importantly, be firm about it. These two are the foundation of the design and if you’re not sure, it will likely reflect on how you present your brand. If you’re publishing content, take note of your audience and streamline the design and function to them to make their user experience enjoyable.

If you’re a business owner, know your market and make sure that you consider them in tailoring your design. If they enjoyed hanging out on your website, they’re likely to come back!

Basically, there are a lot of ways it could go wrong but that’s not the endpoint. Designing websites are challenging and you could always try and improve it!

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