Good Sites vs. Bad

We have all seen good sites and bad sites. Art can be objective, but when it comes to art being used to serve a purpose on a website, objectivity should maybe be put to the side a bit – not completely – and functionality should be the main priority.

For example, a car dealership trying to sell cars may think it is a great idea to use gif images that flash and change every second, or maybe place a police light toward the top to inform customers that there is a sale. I used to be involved in the creation of websites for several of the top 100 car dealerships in the country and Canada and believe me when I say I have seen my fair share of silly ideas. One dealership even suggested making the main image on their site a purple gorilla.

There are several mom and pop dealerships out there that may not have the money to dump, or the skills to create a website that is functional to their needs. Think about a dealership’s needs: they want to get people behind the wheel of their dream car; they want to get their customers approved for financing; and they want to get that customer coming back to their shop for service and parts.

Start with number one: the key word was “dream car.” So, displaying inventory and treating a website like a showroom is important. I have been to several car dealerships and the one thing I always found is that the best dealerships take care of their showroom while the worst have a lot and a trailer to run credit. Which would you rather go to?

Tom Fogden wrote an article for on December 14, 2019, titled, “What Makes a Good Website.” In his article, he lists several suggestions. A site should have a clear purpose and it should be created for an audience. Sites need to have a hierarchical navigation that is simple to understand and the style should match the brand being sold.

Apple has a great site that screams its brand, and the same with British Airways.

The British Airways site has a simple navigation that allows anyone to book a flight to wherever they want to go and whenever.

Fogden also gets into specifics such as fonts, colors and images.

Images need to be clean and crisp, not blurry and dull. Fonts and colors need to represent the brand.

“A typeface might seem relatively inconsequential. However, users spend most of their time on a website reading (or at least scanning) text, meaning it is an essential part of the website you want to create,” Fogden said.

He gave an example of Wired and The Guardian using serif fonts to emphasize they are in the publishing business. The serif, he said, is dropped in certain areas like headings to make an impact.

Elyssa Rosales wrote an article for titled, “What Makes a Good Website Design…,” and in the article she almost echoes Fogden.

“Simplicity gives your website a boost in different aspects,” she said.

For example, with a simple site, the performance does not drag, users can focus on the products more instead of flashy features, and the communication value increases. She also said information on a simple site is clear and easy to read.

As for structure, Rosales said, “Present information in a hierarchical structure so it’s easy for users to understand which pages are important.”

Sticking to three colors or less that match the brand also gives the site a more professional look.

I looked at a few sites that are good and bad. One of the worst sites I found was Yale’s art department:

The site has Sponge Bob tiled in the background, which creates a very busy look and feel. It also uses several different colors and text gets lost.

Another site I found that looks really bad is

If it were not for the name, I would have no idea what this site is.

The tan background that looks like paper from the 1600s left in mint condition is very bland, and the text is very small. There are three award winning logos that go across the page that could be placed somewhere else.

If the site has to do with shipwrecks, why not find an underwater image of a shipwreck and place that on your homepage. The developer could also give some sort of site description and welcome people to the site.

The site also lacks contact information, which is important on any site.

Ultimately, with websites, people can create experiences for people. If an organization or company wants a visitor to go to their site and feel lost and unwanted, then the organization or company can create a site that fits the need. On the same token, if they want to create a site that makes visitors feel welcome like they are visiting a showroom, that too can be created with a little bit of time and organization.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *