Bad website design examples

Expect this item to expand over time…

But here’s a couple of recent classic bloopers suggesting by implication how not to run a website.

1. The gift voucher which costs $10 to ship to you

Go into Woolys Wheels website and try and buy a gift voucher. Choose, say, the $100 gift voucher and their shipping cost is $10 … (-: Then ring them to point this out and speak to an unhelpful employee who then tells you he can’t do anything about it.

Result: customer goes to another bike shop.

2. The supermarket that deletes your laboriously compiled shopping lists

Coles upgrades their online shopping database. Decide that irrespective of the fact that many of your customers may have spent a couple of hours laboriously putting together the contents of their standard shopping lists, you will just delete all shopping lists where the customer hasn’t bought anything recently (even where the customer has only registered one week prior to the upgrade). 

Result: customer goes to Woolworths.

3. You can buy anything at our store provided you pay with our credit card

You’re one of the biggest online auction sites out there. Decide to force all your sellers to offer Paypal as a payment method, and then, take it a step further by insisting that all transactions will be paid for using Paypal on the basis of “improved buyer experience”. Assume that neither the market or the relevant competition authorities will realize that you are just trying to increase the takeup of Paypal – as if you force every Ebay user to have a Paypal account they are increasingly using Paypal on other websites (and in fact in your own publically released financial results Paypal just happens to be the fastest growing area of your business …).

Result: Competition authority rejects your approach, begins examining other parts of your business, and you create thousands of annoyed sellers and buyers. Your stock price crashes as every news item that mentions you triggers dozens of responses from annoyed sellers talking about their poor experience with your business.

4. As an auction seller you can leave any feedback about a buyer – providing it’s positive

Seems unfair I know to mention Ebay again, but with this much recent management talent you just can’t avoid them.

You earn most of your revenue from sellers (basically unless they use Paypal buyers are worth nothing to Ebay). So to “improve the buyer experience” disable the ability of sellers to leave negative feedback for buyers, whilst buyers can continue to leave negative feedback for sellers. Better still, disallow sellers from trading (even with a previous track record of thousands of items from which you earned thousands of dollars in commission) if they have a few recent negative feedback items.

Result: thousands more responses from annoyed sellers anywhere Ebay is mentioned on the web.

5. Use our web form to submit a sales enquiry – but don’t expect a response 

Clarence St Cyclery website. Currently 5 days and counting. If it was a technical query you can sort of understand this – I mean, like, that’s a cost  centre. But a new business enquiry? Most people expect a response in 1 day. Many prospective customers will submit an enquiry and keep looking at your competition until you respond – so it’s best to respond within hours.

6. Use Skype subscriptions for your business – you just won’t be able to renew them

There are a number of great features in Skype which make it ideal for a small business. Free integration with to allow incoming caller id based popups for example, free global conferencing with other Skype users etc. However if you’re running a small business you want to be able to coordinate invoicing and control expenses. Enter Skype’s ‘Business Control Panel’ where you can allocate credit to multiple users and perform various other corporate functions. 

But there’s current a big trap for BCP users: if they purchase a Skype Subscription through the BCP (which gives you both a set of incoming phone numbers and free calling to standard phone lines for various countries as well as voicemail etc) you cannot actually renew it at the end of the term of the subscription! Nobody of course tells you this in advance so at the end of your (say) 3 month subscription for your employee they are left with a set of phone numbers which you may well have given out to clients that cannot renewed as part of the subscription (the only way – and it’s an expensive way) around it is to individually extend each phone number (when the numbers come with a subscription anyway).

Result: each individual Skype user must purchase their own subscription with all the lack of control (the subscription and phone numbers belong to the employee and not the company) and lack of expenditure tracking involved.

7. The downloadable takeaway pizza menu that you can’t print

Christos Pizza website. You just want to order a pizza. Great, there’s a takeaway menu you can download. Only problem is someone has failed to explain to their graphic designer that a lot of printers don’t support inverse printing well (where you have white typeface on a black background).

Result: the printed version of the menu that you would to take to your friends downstairs and get their orders from is totally unreadable.

8. The books for sale on Amazon that you cannot buy

Amazon. I am surprised that Amazon could make a list like this but their Marketplace (3rd party sellers) book sales can be the most frustrating experience on the planet if you are shipping outside say the UK or US. Essentially you choose a book from the MarketPlace section, add it to your shopping basket, go all the way through the payment process, including putting in credit card details, and finally as the last stage of the half dozen steps in the buying process you are told that the MarketPlace seller does not ship to your country. Buy half a dozen books at a time and you can waste 45 minutes taking each MarketPlace seller through the whole process. Amazon support tells me that their shipping information indicates which country MarketPlace sellers ship to: it most definitely doesn’t.

What’s your classic ecommerce blooper experience?

Listening to a Bloomberg podcast commentary the other day, the commentator noted that he was old enough to remember the last few bad recessions. Times where you walked into a store and were literally mobbed by sales staff, times where restaurant staff would pull out your chair. If you’re running an commercial website ‘times are a changing’.

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Article posted by @Drivelry on November 19, 2008

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