About Us / Contact

We highlight commercial websites that are unreasonably hard to use, don't work properly, or don't actually offer what they promise. It's a way for web developers everywhere to learn what kind of mistakes they should avoid -- and of course, an opportunity for the companies listed here to fix the problems we document.

Page too wide, words too huge

Random listing on eBay

reviewed June 2008

Shouldn't it go without saying that you want visitors to actually be able to read your page? Here's a listing I ran across on eBay where that's a challenge. The page is so wide that you have to scroll sideways in order to read it. And not just once, either. Once you've read a single line, you have to scroll back to the left to start the next line, then scroll back right, then scroll back left, and repeat that over and over and over again. Why would anyone bother?

The page is so wide that even when the window is maximized to my decent-sized screen (1440 pixels), it still can't be read without scrolling horizontally. Why anyone would do that to their potential customers is beyond me.

But the next bit is not so mysterious. It's not surprising that when people exhibit fantastically poor judgement, they give you other examples as well. Later on in the same listing they use letters that are so large you can read only one or two words at a time. Imagine trying to read a book that had two words on every page, and that provides a feel for how obnoxious this is.

Browser stealing

reviewed May 2008

Legal Fish lets you post your legal problem so qualified attorneys can contact you to offer their services. I posted my own issue but never heard back from any attorneys, but that's not why I listed this site. I listed it because they sent me a survey that rudely resized my browser window.

A couple weeks after I used their site they emailed me a link to on online survey asking about my experience. After I completed the survey, for no good reason, the site resized my browser window down to a tiny size sufficient to display their thank-you page. Of course this forced me to have to manually resize the window back to its previous, larger size. I had about ten other tabs open and I certainly didn't want to browse those other tabs in a tiny 3"x3" window.

I think that most visitors would be annoyed with a site that lays claim to the user's window, unceremoniously overriding whatever size the user had already chosen for him/herself. But even if only a minority of visitors object, it's still wrong. What benefit is there in annoying even 10% of your visitors? If you give any sizable portion of your visitors a bad experience, that's a problem.

Incidentally, this site also has a useless, distracting, space-wasting Flash animation on its home page. (More about problems with Flash.) It's never surprising that a website that ignores its visitors' interests in one way does so in other ways, too.

Forms are completely broken

Western Union

reviewed May 2008

I spent over half an hour on this site trying to do a simple money transfer. The site fought me every step of the way, and in the end I was forced to give up when I got a false error message. After clicking a Continue button, an error page said, "Your session has timed out because of inactivity." But there was no inactivity, I had been just then using the site. I started over from the beginning, going through the cumbersome process again of specifying all my options, and got the same error. I tried another browser, starting over from the beginning again, but got the same error.

But that was just the final problem, there were many others. The site won't load unless you type in the WWW, unlike 99.999% of all other sites on the net which load just fine whether you type the WWW or not. When trying to register, my password was rejected for being the wrong length, even though it was within the limits specified on the page. Once the password error appeared, the "State" select box was empty, making it impossible for me to select my state. Trying to use the Back button to start over, I got an error insisting that if I did that then a form would have to be resent. I clicked OK and then the form was erased, forcing me to start all over again. These things were merely annoyances, but when the site refused to let me continue because it erroneously said my session had timed out, I had no way to proceed. I used their competitor instead.

Hidden phone number, Slow-loading Flash, Bait-and-Switch

Stratosphere Hotel-Casino

reviewed Feb. 2008

This hotel doesn't seem to want your business very much. They don't bother to put their phone number on their home page. In fact, they don't even bother to put it on their Contact page! There's more: when you go to their site, you're treated to some slow-loading Flash, and then if you click over to another page and then hit the Back button, you get to wait for the useless Flash to load again. We're not done yet: The Specials & Packages page promises some fantastic package deal if you sign up for their Ultimate Rewards club, but if you actually do so, once you're done there's zero info on how to claim the package (or even how much it costs). Another part of the site boasts about a "Lowest Rate Guarantee", but if you click that link, you don't get any info about any guarantee, all you get is the booking form -- after waiting for the Flash to load. (more...)

Splash / Flash combo

Tropical Smoothie Café

reviewed Jan. 2008

This site tries really hard to give the visitor a bad experience, and succeeds. The first problem is the splash page with the "Enter" button. Users don't want to have to "Enter" a site; once they've arrived they expect to already be there. Second, when you click Enter, you get a pop-up window! Why on earth the designers thought it would be a good idea to clutter the user's screen, and break the Back button in their browser, is beyond me. Third, the site requires Flash. It doesn't just have a Flash version, Flash is the only option. Don't like Flash? Tough. You have no choice. You're forced to use it anyway. And when you do, it's painfully slow. After clicking the Enter button, it took a full 40 seconds for the cumbersome Flash page to load, even on broadband. Expecting your visitors to patiently sit there for 40 seconds while your page loads is the height of arrogance in web design. Everything else about the site was slow, too. Whenever I'd point to a button or click it, my pointer would change to the spinning beach ball, telling me I would have to wait. (more...)

Site won't load

Wallace Twin City Realty

reviewed Jan. 2008

Websites are supposed to work fine whether you type in the "www" or not. I've always tried to teach web users that the "www" is unnecessary, and there's no need to waste time by typing it in. And that's true, for 99.999% of websites out there.

But this particular site is an exception. If you fail to type the "www", you'll wait an inordinate amount of time for something to happen, before finally getting an unhelpful cryptic error message that says things like "OK Qpopper (version 4.0) at starting. <>".

User-hostile navigation

Willits Bicycles

reviewed Dec. 2007

Regular readers know that one little mistake won't get you listed on ProblemWebsites. It takes either a huge mistake, or a whole slew of smaller ones. But this site is nearly a combination of those. Their front page isn't actually the site (they force visitors to "enter"), once entering they're forced to wait through a pointless Flash load, once they get there the address isn't listed, clicking on "Store" spawns an annoying new window, that page has a note that says that they're down for maintenance which is two months old, and because of the Flash, the email address isn't right-click copyable... (more...)

Big Security Vulnerability


reviewed Nov. 2007

Login pages at financial institution websites are supposed to use a secure protocol, to make it a lot harder for someone to steal your login information and hack into your account. Amazingly, the major banking site Chase puts their login form on a completely insecure page. What's more, they lie about the problem, with a link to a "Ways we protect you" page which (falsely) tries to reassure customers that the site is actually secure. (more...)

Broken Registration Process

Vegan Passions

reviewed Nov. 2007

There are no end of problems with the registration process at this dating site. In fact, it was so bad, after five separate attempts I was unable to successfully register. Problems include: Not informing the user what happened after they press the Submit button, automatically deleting accounts if the user lives in a different city than their ISP, not informing the visitor that their account was deleted, and especially not informing them why it was deleted. (more...)

No way to buy their product

Hotel Interactive

reviewed Jan. 2, 2007

How can you sell something if you don't give visitors a way to buy your product? I found this page through a search engine, which gives an abstract of the article, and a login for members to read the whole thing. Well, I just might want to become a member, but there's no clue how to do so. There's no signup form on this page, nor on the home page, nor on the login page, nor anywhere else I clicked. The closest I got was this page which exclaims, "Subscribe to Hotel Insider today!" It would be great if they gave you a way to actually do so.

Insufficient Information


reviewed Dec. 29, 2006

Prospective dealers of this company's products will find that CatEye doesn't care to provide enough information about its products -- or even info on how to become a dealer in the first place! (more...)

Orphaned Pages

BBB Bike Parts

reviewed Dec. 29, 2006

This product page is attractive enough, but where are the links? Why is there no link for Contact, More Products, or even Home?! The answer is that BBB used an ancient, obsolete technology on their site: frames. When you arrive at a product page (say by searching for bbbparts highwatt in Google), you arrive at the page without the frames, and so all the menus are missing. (more...)