Day 273 – Bad Design …

93 – 100 Best Designed Websites of 2012

… it could happen to anyone.
It could happen to you!

I feared the worst when I saw the words “Best Designed”.

About 60 of the linked sites are “okay” design.
About 20 of the linked sites are “good” design.
About 10 of the linked sites are “great” design.

And 10-or-so just plain stink for a variety of reasons.

Just like the physical Bunnings experience. Yes, everything is technically speaking there. Yes, theoretically all the aisles are marked and organised. And yet… when you are looking for something it is almost impossible to find anything. Too many damn options. Too little design.

Possibly a victim to the fallout of HeartBleed, but… expired SSL certificate. All modern browsers display warnings for this these days, so either don’t build something that needs HTTPS, or just make sure you stay on top of the damned certificate!

Aaaand we’re seemingly warped into the 70s? Such drab colours. Much bland. Wow! This design style makes me think of passable default templates, slightly mangled by an amateur trying to make it “their own”. With a fresher simpler colour scheme, it’d still be bland, but at least passable.

And it’s not just little sites that have bland down pat. Some kind of vampire seems to have sucked all the life right out of this page. It was probably a lawyer.

And eventually… all links die.

The Lesson

Not everyone can be a design-guru.
I most definitely am not; the design on this site is definitely not inspired.

But the trick is to know when you are not, be it for lack of time, or for lack of skill.

(sufficiently advanced ineptitude is indistinguishable from a rush-job)

Once you admit you have a problem, the answer is simple.

As in: keep-it.

When you are not a designer, stick with simple. Start from a solid design and make only minor tweaks (as I did here). Or build your own from the simplest of elements.

Keep variety to a minimum. One font, two at most. Only a few colours, and for the love of all that is beautiful, just use Kuler already to pick a set of well-matched colours.

Minimise distractions. Don’t put boxes and lines and dividers anywhere. Absence of things is the best natural divider. Space is your friend.

Focus. If the idea of adding space as dividers scares you. If it makes you worry about what’ll scroll of the bottom of the screen… Then you probably have too much on your page to begin with. Simplify, and try again.

There are many great books on design, which might be worth reading as well.
But even then, simple is always your best friend.