Websites Still Designed For People Who Don't Use Them

from the design-matters dept

When the executives at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia redesigned their site this year, they replaced a clean site design with new snazzy one filled with images, flash, and video. Unfortunately, while the redesign looked really pretty, regular users found it impossible to actually find any of the content that they were actually looking for. The web has already been around for more than a decade now, so it’s sad to see that companies are still failing to understand why people visit their site and designing sites that people find frustrating to use. Every day, millions of internet users still click on the “skip” to get through the ubiquitous flash introduction screen that still stands as an annoying sentry to many websites. At what point will companies stop repeating the same mistakes over and over and over again? With the “Websites that Suck” awards now entering their 12th year, we’re clearly progressing at a very slow rate. At least we’re taking baby steps — it’s been awhile since I’ve seen an animated “under construction” sign.

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Companies: martha stewart living omnimedia

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Comments on “Websites Still Designed For People Who Don't Use Them”

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claire rand (user link) says:

this is right up there with companies that want to make it as hard as possible to get information from their sites, like prices etc.

I know they generally want to avoid being scraped by comparison sites but at work it would make the job of putting price quotes together soooo much easier if i could pull prices in bulk then filter them locally in excel.

you knwo the old “make it easy for people to give you money” routine.

also got adblock, noscript and flashbock installed. guess what if your site doesn’t work the competitor gets the order.

Anonymous Coward says:


just send an email to webmaster@ and tell them how much you hate it

wait nobody monitors their webmaster email anymore

as an experiment I asked our sysadmin to add a webmaster address and forward it to me. this is a substantial .com business, over 1 million uniques per month. I didnt get any spam. There is no excuse not to answer your webmaster.

Anonymous Coward says:

I recently did a revamp for a university sport site. The biggest complaint that I got was “get someone who can add some ‘flash’ to the site”. I then asked those complainers to show me some sites they liked more, they had many suggestions. I then asked them to find on those other sites several specific pieces of information about the teams, games, and athletics in general. It took most people over 5 minutes to find all the items I asked for. Compare that to the 40 seconds or less on my non-flashy site. They agreed it was worth the trade off. This was a “test” done with the members of the university fan site. The people who really use the site!

Ease of use is always the number one priority. I have been successful in web design because I will not lower my standards of giving the client what is best for them just to satisfy their desire for flash. If they want a flashy site that doesn’t increase business, they can go somewhere else.

Joe Smith says:

gaming sites

Over the last few days I’ve been visiting gaming sites (trying to get that incompatible POS Bioshock to work on a brand new machine running that POS operating system officially known as Vista) and lots of them still use cluttered web pages with low contrast lettering on a black background. You would think the competitive marketplace would have weeded them out.

Wilson says:

I don’t understand why people can’t see that a clean and “uncluttered” site is so much more appealing than one with flash all over it. Just look at people’s myspace pages. How can they think half those things look good?? If I can’t find what I want on a page, then I am moving on to the next guy. If I want to see their “flashy” ad then put a link at the bottom, and I will click on it if I want to look at it.

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Flash should be dead.

I heard a long time ago that flash was dead. I guess I heard wrong.

I surf most of the time on a 6 year old server. I have a gaming PC but the server is always on. It doesn’t do flash. It can but not well enough to work. I can’t even guess how many times I went to Dominos just because I couldn’t get to the number on Pizza Hut’s site.

JRM says:

Flash websites

I don’t care if the website supports flash, but if they want me to use it, it better be acessible without flash. Indeed, the site should be useable, if with reduced functionality, without javascript. My default browsing configuration is no javascript, java, or flash. Only if I have a strong reason to trust the site will I allow javascript.

Marthas site says:


I agree that flash is not a good web-design technique. However, I do not agree with the criticism of The site is, in my opinion, easier to use. The photos and video are an essential element in Martha’s magazines, and they are great in her website. The navigation for the site is not flash-y, and it is easy to find everything you’re looking for.

ECA (profile) says:


Bells whistles, ding dongs, and gadgets…
Im tired of needing to OK, 6 sites just to view 1.
Between adverts being grabbed from random sites for DISPLAY, and the SAME being posted so that I’ NEED to ok them Just to SEE a front page…AS well as those sites NOT useing AV on those adverts to protect me/customer…

Then comes some OLD concepts.
Optimization…You dont need 300dpi graphics on the NET.

800×600 site. Yes, dont you LOVe having to use a FULL display to see a site? There used to be a way for the SITES to auto adjust to WHAT you wanted to display. NOW you have to display a Full 1080 page on a small/Big screen and it takes over everything.

Picture sites…WOW, everything, and every word is a graphic/php/gif/tif/jpg/ActiveX/Java/ect and so forth..
THERE arnt any words…

Then comes interesting problem..HOW deep do you have to make a URL.. 1 line? 2? A whole PAGE??? Who ever is doing the directory structure should BE SHOT..

Clueby4 says:

MSDN's site

Microsoft MSDN’s is pretty bad, not on the fancy and flash stuff, but rather making constant, whimsical, and unnecessary design changes. Which I really would care less about except for the fact the URLs to existing content more time then not are destroyed, making 3rd party (ie google, script sites, etc) link worthless. And don’t get me start on the FRELLING javascript links, which render “Open Link in New Tab/Window” unusable.

But that pretty typical since most website designers choose form or function

Random Thoughts says:

One-up-manship ...

… is the real problem. Almost every technique employed by websites has a proper use. Unfortunately, web designers and marketers aren’t paid to do a solid, professional job. They are rewarded for one-upping the other guy. So, one guy gets a raise for going a bit over the top. The next guy, to prove his worth, is more likely to going a bit more over the top and add a little extra flair on the side and blinking crap becomes blinking crap that changes colors and pretty soon every button flashes, changes colors randomly and makes a different sound depending on which button you mouse-over.

Back in the good old days, marketers got paid for increasing sales, or more correctly, for increasing profits. They did it by knowing their customers, learning their needs and then making sure the needs get fulfilled.

Now, a sales spike because of a new ad campaign is viewed as the work of a marketing genius. And an over-paid marketer sits in his plush office asking some web designer if he can make the company’s web page randomly rearrange itself every 30 seconds like the one he saw in a game.

When doing a good job depends on the end result, not the immediate result, maybe things will get better, but I’m not counting on anything except that it will get a lot worse before it gets any better., ( Websites Still Designed (user link) says:

Websites Still Designed For People Who Don't Use T

The logic behind this is simple. Big companies are never satisfied unless they squander money. Do they care about their customers? No of-course. They don’t care what the customers think or desire. What they care about is what they think will impress the customers. And that is the idiocy of it all. Because if you really care about the customers, you would survey them or buy a research report to know if the customers really want all that razzle-dazzle, bells and whistles difficult-to-load, flash-in-the-pan website.
If after Martha did some stints in the slammer and still she does not get it, you may give up because she would never get it.

Charles says:

Flash and Hype

I agree with just about every comment. I use the internet for INFORMATION INFORMATION INFORMATION–Not entertainment. I don’t and won’t spend more than a few seconds searching for what I’m seeking. If I don’t find it quickly and easily, I’m off to another source.

And the comment about hidden prices; amen to that! I just hate drudging through pages of hype only to find I have to click on the order page to find the price. My new practice: If my questions aren’t answered quickly, I just move on.

Scott the Menace (user link) says:

More web sites that suck

Web designers are no different than their application programming counterparts. they design to technology and not to user needs. I doubt that they ever actually use their own sites (and testing doesn’t count as using). If they did they would understand how useless they are.

With this in mind, I would add the following to any list of the suckiest websites:

1) Any web site targeted at a specific browser (usually IE). I mean, come on. Seriously?

2) Any web site that does not work in any browser or OS combination. They’re called “standards” people. Use them.

3) Any web site that places a flash or scripted advertisement ON TOP OF CONTENT. The concept behind covering up the only reason people go to a web site simply astounds me. I would love to stand in front of these web designers with cardboard ads every time they change the channel on their TV or turn the page of a book to see how they like it.

4) Any site still using pop-up windows for any reason. Guess what guys, pop-up blockers are outrageously popular for a reason: pop-ups are annoying and stupid, and exemplify lazy design.

5) Any site that is a web “application” (e.g. PeopleSoft, SAP, etc.). The user experience is generally hideous and not universally accessible (see #2).

John (profile) says:

What is with these websites?

Who designs websites? The marketing department and the graphic designers. Who is never consulted about the design of the website? Usability experts. (Huh, who are they?)
So, you get websites that look pretty and have all the bells and whistles, yet are unusable.

A few months ago, I tried to use a restaurant’s website to find their nearest location. Their site used Flash, which was the first pain. But, the worse issue was that their menu contained “hip” terms like “Click Us”, “Bake Us”, etc.
Please, just use the words “Find Location” or “Where we are”. A suggestion: if people are trying to find you to GIVE YOU BUSINESS, don’t confuse them.

So, I wrote them a nasty e-mail saying that I couldn’t find their locations and I would be eating somewhere else.

Recently, I went to the Disney site to look up some information. I forget which page I was on, but it actually said “Flash 9 is required to view this page”, and some bull*** line about “providing the best interactive experience”.
Guess what? I don’t have Flash 9 and I’m not going to install it for one site, for one visit, to look up something. If I don’t need Flash 9 for the other 99.999999% of all the sites that I vist, why do I need it for your site?

And what about the people who are behind a corporate firewall and who can’t install Flash 9 or whatever plug-in your site requires? Are these companies really willing to risk losing business because they force users to install the lastest bleeding-edge plug-ins?

And what’s with the “Best viewed with IE” crap? It’s 2007- why so you care what browser your vistor is using? Or, again, does your company use bleeding-edge plug-ins that require the latest build of IE… which people can’t install because they’re behind corporate firewalls!

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