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3 things that make your website truly awful

Have you come across any truly hideous websites lately? You know, the kind that make you want to lie down in a darkened room and cover your eyes - either from embarrassment or because they've given you eye strain.

I like bad websites. Seriously, they make me happy. I cheerfully tonk about on the web actively seeking out website disasters. And then I ring up the company, politely diss their website and offer to make it better for them. This works surprisingly well.

Anyway, I’m guessing you won’t want that phone call. So here’s a quick rundown of 3 things that would put your website on my hit list:

Gibberish

Gibberish is a great way to attract the attention of a copywriter on a mission. Let’s start with an example from one of the big boys. This is Microsoft, apparently trying to talk to a customer who doesn’t know much about computers:

"Discover and map permissions across multiple systems to individual, assignable roles, leveraging role mining tools to discover the various permission sets for users across the enterprise to be later modeled and applied centrally. IT and auditors with a single view of individual users and resources can increase visibility into compliance and the security state of systems across their organization along with in-depth auditing and reporting. ”

Really, I haven’t made that up. It’s actual copy from the Microsoft website. Do you have any idea what they’re talking about? Me neither. It’s rubbish and it doesn't speak to the customer. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Don’t tell your visitor what you do

I do love a website that leaves me flummoxed about what a business does. Here’s a perfect example from a company called Genicap. If you can manage to work out what they do, feel free to let me know.

Anything and everything? Hey, thanks that’s helpful. But it’s comforting to know that they have a MISSION. What their mission is… Well it’s anyone’s guess really.

Incidentally, they also get my phone call for the glaring grammatical error in the second paragraph. Honestly, I adore this website. If the copy alone weren’t enough to make it awful, the grammar would seal their fate.

Put everything on one page

There’s only one thing more splendid than a website that fails to explain. And that’s a website that’s tries to explain EVERYTHING. On a single page. Look, here’s one.

You’ll probably find the kitchen sink in there somewhere. If only you had a spare lifetime to find it.

That Arngren example is obviously an e-commerce site, but the same rules apply to brochure sites. Your website is there to persuade your visitor to take a specific action – whether that’s to contact you for more information, sign up, download or make a booking.

Don’t try and dump too much information on your reader. They'll run away with a headache and won’t take any action at all. And you’ll get a call from me.

Helen Beckingham is an SEO copywriter at Keyword Copywriting. Expert scribbler on websites, blogs and e-books, rather good bassoonist, terrible singer. Contact helen@keywordcopywriting.co.uk here