Symptoms of Over-Designed Websites

· design ·


During lead research, we came across many websites and types of companies. In most cases, we have no idea what those companies do by looking at their website.

A trained eye can spot a digital agency in a few seconds, but for an average person it’s impossible.

Here are some frustrations we face with most web design.

Design problems

  • Stock photos of random happy people working together, a business meeting, or a person using a computer.
  • A carousel gallery (without visible controls).
  • Plenty of animations, fade-ins, swirling, and moving.
  • A premium design that pops.
  • More images of happy busy people.
  • A hero image that doesn’t have anything to do with the product (except that it makes people smile for some reason).
  • A different header and footer on each page, with unique navigation, and a logo on the right.
  • Blue color and underline for elements that aren’t links.
  • Hijacking scroll bar so a visitor has no idea how the site functions.
  • Font colors that blend with the surroundings. If you’re trying to decide if it’s legible, you already have the answer.
  • Innovative and creative design instead of recognizable layouts that everyone uses.
  • Every inch of space is squeezed and put to use. The opposite problem — too much negative space — is yet to be spotted.
  • More pretty pictures.
  • Skipped usability testing in favor of polishing that ease-in animation and nailing the CSS gradient.
  • Design so minimal, we’re not sure what the website’s for.

stock photo

Structural problems

  • A long form that needs more than just the person’s email.
  • Two or more columns of information which compete for attention.
  • Splash page, auto-playing video, or background music.
  • Forcing the Contact Us form instead of giving an email and a contact person.
  • Not sure where to click next (but it looks nice). I wonder what does this button do… or where this link leads…
  • Too much stuff on the landing page (about us, portfolio, news, tweets, features, promotions, affiliates, recent blog - posts).
  • Multiple calls to action. Should I sign up, read more, contact you, apply for a special promotion, download the app..?
  • No screenshot of the product, ANYWHERE.

Eager form

Copy problems

  • We’re awesome (the most innovative company, an industry leader, focus on quality above all…).
  • Me. Me. Me. Me. Might have to do with you … no, it’s about me. Me again.
  • Weak words (believe, think, find, aim, strive…).
  • Industry jargon that an average business owner (a.k.a. the potential client) doesn’t understand.
  • It doesn’t say anywhere what the company does, but it lists plenty of reasons why it’s awesome.
  • Too much fluff text, ignoring the hunter mentality of a web user.
  • Using text to communicate information instead of showing it.
  • Super-cheerful copy that sells the benefits without telling you the features.
  • Clever copy that aims to entertain rather than provide useful info.
  • Why use “Contact Us” when you can be creative and write “Reach Out” or “Connect”.
  • Mission and vision statement dress up: having a unique mission statement even though you do the same work as a million of others.

Mission statement generaton

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