Dont Be a Bad Designer And Dont Make These Mistakes


Do you want to have a little fun and learn what mistakes some bad designers are making that you shouldn’t? This post is not for the faint of heart!

Web design has become a popular topic, there are a lot of guys changing careers or just starting out to as a web designer, and many of them are bad.

It sounds wonderful, why not? You would ask.

After all – more to choose from.

On the other hand, there is more competition.
Just like with every industry, web design industry does not develop as smoothly as we would like it to. It has its ups and downs, bumps and holes.

And one of them drives many people crazy, including me.

The bump I am talking about this time is those web designers who claim: “I’m an experienced web designer,” but certainly shouldn’t be calling themselves a web designer.

Bad Designers that Shouldn’t be Calling themselves a Web Designer

So here are four of them, with their mistakes, so you can learn from them and not repeat them yourself.
Otherwise you might end up being featured in an article just like this one.

Portfolio Under Construction

Why Bad Designers are Scarier than Dating Taylor Swift

It is actually safe to say that the worst sentence you can have on your website is: “Under Construction”.
Or basically just have no previous work at all to show your potential customers.

I mean c’mon – if you really have not managed to attract a paying customer, do the work for free, just so you can have at least something to show.

Create a website for your grandmother, sister or even for your dog.

If, unfortunately, you are completely alone in this world, without relatives or friends (which would be hard to believe anyway), you can still create a website for an imaginary client’s company.

And that would be better than “under construction”.

Anti-Social Media

Social media is great social proof for your brand, work and services you provide, but guess what? It can become an anti social proof too.

Look at this web design studio.

Look above their logo – can you see that number 4 next to the Facebook’s thumb up?

Why Bad Designers are Scarier than Dating Taylor Swift

Does it look impressive? Does it convince you to use this studio?

Not really… quite the opposite, am I right? The message here should be clear, do not show off with something you do not have.
If you are just starting out and have not managed yet to get a nice group of fans around your brand, please do not display it for everyone to see.

It is not something to be proud of at all.

Work hard, satisfy your customers, turn them into your followers and then you can show off with some numbers (which in my opinion should be a minimum of 100).

And not the other way around, got it?

Flash Equals No Cash

Why Bad Designers are Scarier than Dating Taylor Swift

Who is still using Flash these days? If you follow up the latest technology news you should be aware of the fact that Flash is dying.
Apple stopped supporting Flash years ago, because now HTML 5 is the way forward, and even Adobe themselves admit it.

So the reason why I call it “Flash Equals No Cash” is because how can you call yourself a web designer if you build your own portfolio using Flash, a technology that is dying.
What does it say about you?

Will clients really be interested in hiring someone who uses old technology? 100% not.

Just like you would not go to a dentist who uses old fashioned tools.
Tools just like this one below…

Why Bad Designers are Scarier than Dating Taylor Swift

So, I hope that picture scared you a bit and it will make you consider whether to use Flash or not.

Be clever, and save your career my friend, and learn HTML 5 instead. This is where our “Design Freak” Christian will help you with his HTML5 Introduction.

The Header is there for a Reason

You see, the header of your website is placed above everything else on your website – content, links, footer, etc. It is nearly always the very first part of your website a visitor notices. So the biggest mistake you can make is creating a low quality header.

I mean a very, very low quality header.
Have a look at this one below.

Bad Header

How does it make you feel? Does it remind you of good quality work, fast service or trust? I doubt it.
So here you go – once again. Do not call yourself a web designer if you cannot even look after your own website.


Nowadays you can have so many tools in your hands to promote and improve your brand. Social media, portfolios, testimonials, latest design trends, and others. Please make sure you do not use them against you, which inevitably will only damage your reputation.

Do you know any web designers or web design studios worth adding to this list so that everyone can learn from their mistakes?



    • James Richman

      Ahoy Pavan

      Thanks a lot for your comment mate :)
      Really nice to see you enjoyed my article.

      What about yourself?
      Do you have any specific content marketing plan for your zeeways site?

  1. I think that honesty is a good thing. Yes some of these sites have been called out but honestly, it is the truth. I found this article to be an enjoyable read.


    • James Richman

      Ahoy Art

      Thanks a lot for your opinion mate :)
      I’m really glad you enjoyed this article.

      Do you think there are some bed web design examples I forgot to mention?

  2. Mani Kumar

    Hi James,

    I am also a start up designer/ UX Engineer and also tried to avoid mistakes you have mentioned.
    I am posting my website here. And i don’t have any live demos for my work but mockups. This is actually what i do at my work. Just tell me what do you think about it ?
    By the way you have lot of patience to answer to all the comments given to the people. I like way you answered.

    PS: One issue while replying on this site is, while pasting my website link in the text field, it asking to paste along with the “http:\” also. Why cant it will take only url with out that ?


    • James Richman

      Hi Mani

      Thanks a lot for your kind words.
      I’m sorry to say, but your website does not seem to be working.

      And I will have a look in to the commenting problem you mentioned Mani.

  3. Hi James,
    I am a few days late in reading this article and my first thought was “WOW”, this article has raised a few discussions! I haven’t read them all, though I do find it rather an irony that those people criticising your way of writing and your judgement on the above inclusions are putting themselves in the same bracket that they are accusing you of.

    I see the article as you intended, as bad examples. The instances you have highlighted are really quite basic, almost schoolboy errors. Now I am by no means an experienced or an expert web designer but these sort of errors show the designer’s lack of knowledge and/or skill. Yes, every profession has these rogues, who shamefully call themselves, in this case, web designers and the situation is not helped by all these online WYSIWYG website builders so absolutely anyone can create a website. However, not everyone has the skills and knowledge to know how a web design actually works and functions.
    By publishing your work/designs online, you are putting yourself out there to be criticised (good or bad) and while it can become quite an attack (an also be seen as putting the criticiser in a bad light) , I don’t see that tone in this article. You are merely pointing out bad examples of what is out there being called “Web Design”.

    Of course, if we didn’t have bad examples, how would we distinguish the good??

    I can also relate to the comments about being busy too update their portfolio. I have been wanting to re-design my portfolio for a while now, but I am just not finding the time. Though I do try to keep my folio updated with my recent projects. Between client work and still learning the ropes, so to speak, I am finding myself busy. I wouldn’t say my portfolio site is any good either, but to pick up on a comment made, it is not just about having a good, or outstanding portfolio, it had just as much, of not more, to do with marketing yourself. That is why what you or I see as bad designers still get work, as they can market themselves. However, those that are actually no good at web design (or any other profession, for that matter) are soon found out. And clients will always let others know if someone is in fact rubbish and talking/designing out their backside. I have still to officially launch myself, yet I am getting a steady stream of clients (not a lot, but at least giving something to work on and learn/practise my skills) through word of mouth and my social network presence, which is starting to pick up too.

    • James Richman

      Hey Mike

      No worries about commenting late, it happens and is just normal.
      Look, even I’m late now on replying to my latest comments, better later than never, as I say.

      I really liked your comment and your opinion.
      It’s kind of very honest and logical.

      And I believe you will definitely go far in your career.
      Because your mindset is open to criticism and learning from your mistakes that others point out for you.

      Now I wanted to ask you Mike, to you have any set deadline for getting your portfolio sorted at all?

  4. I love showing your articles to my beginning Web design students. This one should be especially good as a discussion starter. Thank you for the excellent work.


    • James Richman

      Hey David

      Really great to see you enjoying my article.
      And especially that you have decided to show it to your beginning web design students.

      Have you seen any bad web design examples in your experience?

  5. Ha! I fall in the first category: ‘Portfolio Under Construction’. But well, it’s under construction because I haven’t had time for it and I worked for my customers. I think customers are far more important than me showing off. But I hope I’ll get my portfolio online in the next few months.

    • James Richman

      Hey Daniel

      It’s so valuable to understand your own situation.
      That is where it will start from.

      I’d suggest if you could at least list some of your client’s testimonials.
      That would make a hell of a difference.

      Do you think it’s possible Daniel?

  6. marcela

    Ok, Ok, OK. Like a say of “Don Quijote de la Mancha” book says,”if the dogs bark is clear sign that you are on the road”
    I would appreciate very much you’ll come to Chile someday and visit some of the “best” websites ever created to get a portray of the oldest way. I’m not a web designer myself, but I work in Tourism Industry and I’ve seen the worst examples ever for websites than were made by probabl, ones of the worst designers of the world… and still they ask money for their desings.
    I’ve got a fight with some of them, when a hotelier asked me to help to improve his website presence, because the designer decided to had flash animation, banners and pop ups or wathever a blinky shinny ad on the middle of the site, names.
    Finally, if you want to find the real meaning of the word Arrogant, people will come to Chile and get stocked in the past of website designers.
    To point the real facts with real examples, is the only way I know you point the mistakes. When you were a child I guess your mother did not call your sister or brother to say to them, that you had made a big mistake. Your mother pointed on your face your mistakes and obviously, you felt ashamed and embarrassed, which is not a bad thing when you need to find a new way of behavior.
    In the same logic, website design is for money, and to improve the sales and the presence of a client or customer. If you feel that with this article they pointed you and your mistakes on that topic, well, probably is time of change things and make improvements.
    I feel ashamed and embarrassed myself, when I see that an article shows my ignorance and my incompetence, but I prefer to change my mind and try to make changes, than persecute the authors of the article for been “arrogant” and not discreet.

    • James Richman

      Ahoy Marcela

      Wow, what an insightful and honest comment.
      Thanks a lot for commenting :)

      I’ve never ever traveled to Chile.
      Also I’m glad you are on the same wave with me.

      As you mentioned you have clearly had a chance to see real life examples.

      Thanks once again Marcela

  7. Hi James,

    I believe and respect that everyone is free to give his opinion, but always respecting the work of others. I know your intension was not to offend the bloggers you take as an example, but you might did it.

    • James Richman

      Ahoy Juan

      Thanks a lot for your comment mate.

      The difference is that I’ve always said, I definitely respect others work.
      But by being in this industry myself, I feel my duty is to not let others burn and crush and then learn from their mistakes.

      If I notice something, I’d feel guilty staying silent. That’s respecting your fellow industry colleges.

  8. Awais Raza

    Hey James,

    There are lot of criticism going around here, and I am not sure why? This article is perfectly written and I totally agree with you.

    This article is written for 95% of cases, while commentators are bringing exceptional cases here of 5% or less. I think this article is really very helpful and you have given a reminder to featured designers, what they should do.

    From me, Thumbs up and keep writing such useful articles.

    • James Richman

      Hi Awais

      Thanks a lot for your comment mate. Nice one.
      I appreciate you being so supportive.

      And for sure you will go a long way in your career.
      You clearly do not care about being overly sensitive, instead you choose to learn from the mistakes others point out for you.

      Thanks a lot once again mate :)

  9. I like this article,

    If I look at my website right now I see some of the things James mentioned and I take the comments as a lesson, I completely agree with it…

    Being frank, though, I must admit that I have stuff to put in the portfolio, the problem is that I have a full time job mondays to fridays and I also study in the evening, therefore I absolutely cannot generate more spare time than I actually have,

    In this sense, I also agree with John Locke, as in, even if it may not have been James’ intention to embarrass anyone, he well may have…

    You are right the internet is a free world and any opinions should be allowed, but from a human view point, I would also care to not hurt anyone with your own words, because ultimately we’re all but puny humans and we all make mistakes, in web design especially we all start from the bottom and try to raise up, only time dictates experience, just like the Californian gold diggers in the 19th century, so be merciful on those who may only have gotten started a career in web design, let them live their dream, they will improve, including me, being humble in the way we think is always best, even if we want to give constructive feedback.


    • James Richman

      Hi Dani

      As busy as you might be, there’s always, believe me always a chance to spare at least 1 hour a month.
      Unless you are I don’t know who.

      Just instead of watching telly, or doing other time wasting activities, do some extra work on your branding. As simple as that.

      I kind of agree, but disagree.
      Because I myself being in this industry feel a responsibility to help others, just like others help me.
      I don’t want to wait for them to realize that they don’t get any sales and customers, because of their mistakes.

      Instead I’d feel guilty if I staid silent when noticing the mistakes I’ve made in the past. The same way I appreciate when someone points out some mistakes I’ve made instead of waiting for me to burn and crush the hard way.

      If people are too sensitive, well it’s up to them, to choose – Stay sensitive, or do something with your career.

      But I still respect your opinion and comment, thanks Dani :)

  10. Simon C


    Firstly I feel like the entire 1stwebdesigner team is taking a significant amount of criticism which I feel is unwarranted.

    They created an article trying to outline points which are 100℅ relevant and useful. You should not have an empty portfolio, you should not have rubbish social media channels, you should not be developing your own website in flash.

    I am happy to see that they are pointing out these issues and while I think personally that they should have spoken with the owners of these websites before, they are not obligated to do so. Sometimes designers / developers need to be told their work is rubbish. Looking back on my older work I wish someone had told me a few of my styles / techniques needed altering.

    I am always happy with their articles and happy to see these issues / design concepts illuminated.

    (Also in regards to flash, there is a simple solution, tell your clients NO you will not use it and it won’t work on any mobiles. Every time a client has asked for flash I simply tell them it won’t work on their iPad / iPhone and they agree to a reasonable solution)

    • James Richman

      Hey Simon

      Thanks a lot for your comment!

      I totally love your example on how to deal with clients who require flash :)
      It seems to work every time if you mention incompatibility with iPad/iPhone.

      Thanks once again.

  11. Paulo Silva

    So many comments saying that the author is arrogant when have done this article and show the mistakes we must avoid.

    I have a word for that people… The arrogant’s are you withe this selfish comments, because if this author have pointed your work as a good example of work you will not complaint about… Stop with cynicism!!!

    The point of the author is to teach us and to teach he have to point good and bad examples and in this case is about bad public examples, not private examples !!!

    And remember that a image is better than thousands of words .

    When you expose yourself to public, you can get good or bad reviews, so get used to it and stop to complain!!!

    If is public it can be referenced and comment for the good and for the worst, but for you guys it seems that you just like to watch good news in the television…. sorry but i don’t believe that, because what gives audience to television is the bad news!!!

    For the ones that have pointed some mistakes in this site, i have a few questions:
    Question 1 – How many sites you have design 100% compatible with all browsers and operating systems?
    Reply – none, because is impossible with so many different browsers and operating systems in many versions with all their bugs.

    Question 2 – How many software, sites, operating systems you can point 100% bug free?
    Reply – Windows and all related products for shore it will not be the answer. Apple products also have their flaws and bugs and are very expensive. Open source like in the Linux world, PHP world or Google also have their problems. Sites like Amazon, Ebay and others also have compliance problems. So the reply once more will be NONE.

    Question 3 – You never commented in public, in internet or in real life, about anything that another person have done wrong and that is from public knowledge or is accessible for anybody?
    Reply – Who says yes, must think a little hard or go to the doctor to see what is happening with the brain!!!

    This site is to learn, therefore make more articles with examples to avoid and examples to follow and forget about the egocentric minds that make the negative comments.

    NOTE: I am Portuguese, therefore English is not my natural language, so please have fun pointing my mistakes.

    • James Richman

      Hey Paulo

      Wow, this was an impressive comment.
      Thank you so much for all the effort and time it took to write it mate.

      It definitely leaves a great impact for everyone.
      And there’s so much truth for everyone.

      Thanks a lot once again!

  12. Alex

    Thanks for your reply. I’m quite happy for there to be loads of crap web designers… it makes it easier to stand out as good!

    • James Richman

      Hey Alex

      I totally understand where you come from and what you mean.
      Which actually makes sense.

      But at the same time I myself being in this industry still feel responsible to help my fellow web designers improving what I can point out for them, just like others point out my mistakes so that I can keep improving, learning and growing.

  13. Jose

    Hey James,
    I like the intent of this article but highlighting individuals who probably have no training, experience etc. is being a little hard on them. I think your article is giving them a lot of negative publicity both of which they don’t need probably. What you’re probably undermining is the ability of the net denizen being vicious on these hapless fellows.

    Whatever examples you have shown could easily be replicated with fictitious titles/names etc and still drive home the point. You could use larger firms in the public domain if you really wanted to give live examples. They don’t care and your reviews won’t bring them down. The smaller guys you highlight can actually be crushed. So please do have a heart. This is a website which thousands of people view for inspiration. I am upset after reading this article. (Save the apologies and do something about it … this isn’t a personal blog right?)

    • James Richman

      Hey Jose

      Thanks a lot for your comment ;)

      You are right – sure thing these examples could easily be replicated with fictitious titles/names etc.

      But, there’s one big but…

      By doing that I wouldn’t be able to achieve the result and impact this article was supposed to leave, by showing not fake examples, but examples from real life situations. And in no way this article is meant to upset anyone.

      Any of the guys mentioned in this article can reach out to me if there’s anything they’re not happy about, because we are here on the world wide internet to support each other, learn from each other and point out the mistakes.

      If everyone is gonna be sensitive and will not take objective criticism positively can see a lot of improvement.

      Thanks for your opinion once again Jose

    • James Richman

      Ahoy Eric

      Thanks for your comment mate.
      Hahah, that’s totally typical and funny.

      But can I ask you now.
      Do you feel there’s some really obvious and common mistake web designers make, that I should’ve included in this article?

  14. Lance

    Interesting article though not going to be popular because people dont like to hear the truth. It’s a critique. Critique’s are pretty common in the art place right? Get used to it. Too many people think that they can design and eventually you end up with crappy sites. No wonder some clients think that a site can be designed and built for cheap. We should be holding people up to higher standards. I’m not denying that there a lot of talented people designing out there but when you see envato peeps selling work for 30.00’s – it really pisses me off to no end. Great work for 30.00? Should be more like great work for 1000.00

    Anyway….you form doesnt work in Firefox :)

    • James Richman

      Ahoy Lance

      Wow, what a great comment mate. Thanks a lot.
      I’m totally with you here.

      People are always and everywhere struggling to hear truth and critique – It’s sad.
      Why instead of taking it personal, getting upset and offended take it as a objective criticism so you can improve, isn’t it?

      Well you clearly understand where I come from :)

      P.s. Thanks for pointing out the technical issue mate!

  15. Flash is dying in websites, but it’s still popular in browser games (most of them is still in flash technology), so it still looks good in your portfolio if you use it right :)

    • James Richman

      Hey Marcin

      Hell, yes – I agree in some parts of the industry Flash is still alive.
      So including it in your skill set is really a good idea.

      But I personally don’t believe that’s a good reason enough to build your entire website using Flash.

      Do you?

  16. AJDF

    Firstly, I would like to criticize the fact that when I try to click on the author’s web site, it takes me to his Facebook page. Oh, the irony is spectacular! Next to the author’s name (James Richman) it says ‘Twitter | Website | Google+’ colour coded links suggesting you can check out these credentials. Each link goes to his personal Facebook page… that’s very poor, misleading and untrustworthy.

    This article is very random and has so many flaws in it, I have lost all respect for 1stwebdesigner… sorry. You cannot just randomly name and shame some tiny individuals you found on the internet, just because you think they will not find this article. That’s incredibly audacious and lame.

    A major flaw is that you criticise John Crayton for his ‘poor header design’… and he is NOT even a web designer… he’s a developer – I actually expect developers to have poor design skills, it is a very seperate skill. In fact, it makes them more obviously development specialists.

    Anyway, at least your article has inspired me to comment!

    • James Richman

      Ahoy AJDF

      Thanks for your comment mate.
      But I’m sorry to hear how you feel about this article.

      Who said I cannot just randomly name individuals if I feel they are good example of made mistakes?
      And no – it’s not my hope that they wouldn’t find this article.

      In fact I wish they would be here with us discussing. So if you’d like to you can even email them.

      That’s the way we can learn and improve, by pointing out what’s what’s not working or looking good in each other’s work.

      So hey, just like you commented my misleading links – I fixed them?
      Will I get upset? Will I get offended? No, why would I waste my time for that.

      Instead I can only thank for having guys like you, who don’t just leave it there, but actually point it out for me.
      In that way I take your critique and improve, change and learn.

      So thanks once again for commenting and your help mate :)

  17. Do good designers fail to label their comment reply fields, or make them disappear when you type in them. I think not.

    As Archbishop of York John Sentamu often says, you point one finger at someone else, means that three of your fingers are pointing back at yourself.

    • James Richman

      Hey Richar

      Nothing wrong with that at all.
      I even encourage people to point out what’s not working or looking good.

      That’s the only way we can improve – without getting upset, or offended but instead taking objective criticism and improving.

      So thanks a lot mate for your help :)

  18. One more thing – if you’re going to critique others’ websites, then your own site must be above approach. To wit: The fonts on this page are reloading ever 6.5 seconds, leading to an undesirable flashing effect.

    In other words, this page is broken. Fix it.

    • James Richman

      Hey Tim

      I don’t really agree that to critique someone my site must be above approach.
      Because just like I can critique and comment on something that comes from my own experience.

      Someone else can easily comment on me and my work.
      So in case like this, I’m really glad we have guys like you, who can point out what’s wrong and critique us.

      That’s the only way to get around it – Without getting upset or offended, just taking criticism and working on improving ourselves.

      Thanks once again mate :)

  19. Tania

    Last part – That guy is a marketer, web developer though, not a designer. It’s like saying a builder is a bad architecture. I mean great post but as some people said, it needs more depth and reasonings.

    • James Richman

      Hey Tania

      Well, especially if he is a marketer he should know that website’s header is one of the most noticeable elements.
      And make the most of this element using his marketing skills.

      But that’s just my personal opinion.

      Everyone keeps learning, including me.
      So your comment definitely will make me think more about how to structure my next article.

      Thanks a lot for your opinion Tania :)

  20. Hm. I’m not sure about the tone of this. I can only imagine it will lead to animosity when these designers actually find the post. Which makes me wonder how experienced the author is and how he deals with clients who are often poor designers.

    • James Richman

      Hey Edwin

      Well, there’s definitely no need for animosity.
      As I’ve mentioned before to other readers, I apologize if I offended someone as it was not my intention at all.

      What are your thoughts on these obvious, basic mistakes people still make?

  21. This article just might have given me PTSD. At the end of the day, I guess we can be thankful for cowboy webmasters such as these for making the skilled designers stand out more.

    • James Richman

      Hey Daniel

      That’s an interesting statement I must say.
      Do you mind explaining more how exactly do you think they make the skilled designers stand out more?

  22. Kun

    I don’t know what would be wrong or scary about dating Taylor Swift. Although the post is hintful

    • James Richman

      Hey Kun

      Well, I don’t personally know from my experience as I’ve never dated her :)
      But it’s pretty well known to a lot of people she’s a trouble :D

      And I’m glad you enjoyed the article.
      Is there any web design mistake you feel I should’ve included here?

  23. While I don’t really agree with the name and shame aspect of the article, I do believe the article has good purpose.

    It makes you think about the design of your website as a whole. I know a few people that spend ages with pixel perfection on an under construction page when they could have built their whole site.

    • James Richman

      Hey Stuart

      Well, yes, I’m really sorry if I offended anyone, as it certainly was not my aim.
      I’ve even blurred their name and photo now.

      But I totally understand where you come from – It really is better done than perfect.
      Even tough these mistakes aren’t about pixel perfection, but pretty basic and obvious ones.

      By the way I’d love to hear some of your examples too, if you have any mate :)

  24. Diego Crusius

    I find the topic quite interesting and fun but when I came here I got a bit… I dont know. I feel uncomfortable with this. Why not cover their identities? Thats too much exposure and humiliation to them I think. Do they agree to be featured here? I’m not sure – who would?

    This article also lacks a bit of depth – its been shown just the bottom line basic mistakes web designers do, and actually they are, besides being really bad, they are all understandable:

    – no portfolio: the guy is excited to start his business so he decided he wouldnt wait to have a portfolio. To be honest I never used a page as a portfolio myself, as I just linked my clientes to my latest works. Actually – my own webside never gave me one single client; I just use social networks instead;

    -social media button. I know its a shot on the foot the ‘4 likes’ right above the website but thats not the end of the world, as some people won’t even make that connection.

    – flash: the ‘lame’ costumer have no idea whats the difference between flash and javascript. Now imagine what’s their opinion on html5. Im against the use of flash myself but its still a decent tool for high impact intros and whatnot – not to mention its a well developed technology with lots of courses and tutorials and many people are still very deep into it.

    – bad header: I know it sounds awful but many people simply don’t care how pretty your website is, while others will think your super pro website is horrendous. Its impossible to please them all, and sometimes you are just wasting your time with pixel perfection. BELIEVE ME.

    • James Richman

      Ahoy Diego

      Thanks a lot for your comment.

      Ouh man, You are totally right here and I believe what you are saying.
      It’s better done than perfect.

      But at least it’s good to be aware of the basic mistakes we can avoid.
      And even tough these are basic and obvious ones, still it doesn’t mean we can let them pass by if we are ware of them.

      Thanks for your opinion once again Diego :)

  25. To be fair not all of those things are the sign of a poor designer, but sometimes the sign of someone who is poor at marketing themselves.

    I know a few designers with sites built in Flash or no site at all. Some of these people are pretty successful and are simply too busy to work on their own site. It’s not ideal but they’re not all bad at what they do.

    • James Richman

      Hey Gareth

      Of course, there are exceptions too.
      Just like shoemaker has no shoes.

      But it’s better to be aware of the most basic mistakes to avoid.

      And by the way maybe you could give me a link to some of the designers you know, who have Flash sites?
      I wouldn’t actually mind them including in this article as exceptions :)

  26. Amadeus

    Hey, Thanks a lot for this article really a great motivation!
    i am starting webdesign this summer, i really enjoy reading your articles :)
    Thanks a lot 1stWebDesigner ^^

    • James Richman

      Hi Amadeus

      Thanks a lot for your kind words mate.
      I’m glad you enjoyed the article.

      Have you already been studying web design for some time?

  27. Here’s a puzzler:

    I have the opposite problem – too much work. My own website takes priority after all client work is completed. When I have a spare moment, I look at OmniFocus (my task manager) and realize, nope, I don’t really have a free moment, I could be working client-X’s requested palette change or client-Y’s requested Spanish language page, or client-Z’s e-commerce streamlining proposal.

    The past 1.5 years of work is the best work I’ve ever done, but I just don’t have time to add it to my gallery.

    So, there’s my puzzle. What are your thoughts on my poor, neglected, B-rate portfolio which still manages to bring me more business than I can handle?

    • My situation exactly.
      While I normally like the articles on this site, this one comes across as unprofessional and pretty lame guys. Something you’d expect from 13yr olds.

      Sure the designs aren’t…er, great, but these guys are having a go and in my opinion the market will decide if they really are “web designers” or not. Not you. If they manage to attract, and keep customers then they have as much right to call themselves web designers as you James.

      Even if this was deliberate attempt to generate responses from your readers, in my opinion it only makes the site look b-grade.

      • James Richman

        Hey Ben

        Thanks for your comment mate :)
        I’m sorry about the way you feel about this article.

        In all honesty my intention was not to offend or embarrass anyone.
        If you any chance I did, I genuinely do apologize Ben.

        And I totally agree – these guys are having a go, which is only a good thing.
        But by no chance I am trying to decide whether they deserve to be called “web designer” or not.

        I pretty much just gathered together some basic mistakes to avoid.

        And your comment definitely is something I’ll take into consideration when writing my next article.

        Thanks once again mate :)

    • James Richman

      Hey Tim

      Thanks a lot for your comment mate :)
      You know what, this puzzler is pretty easy – Head over to your portfolio page.

      When I checked it out, there was not a smell of it being poor, B-rated or neglected.

      Is your portfolio Under Construction?
      Well, at least nothing makes me think so.

      Instead you have plenty of information there, as well as testimonials.

  28. Man i wish i had subscribed months, thanks this is great and it’s helping to improve for real,
    thanks James :)

    • James Richman

      Ahoy Mukiibi

      I’m really glad to see you’ve enjoyed this article mate :)

      Any bad web design mistakes you could add, for other to avoid?

  29. There might be some really valid points in this article, but the way this article was delivered is in poor taste. Rather than try to embarrass these people publicly, I wonder if it would have been better to approach each of these people discreetly and advise them that their website could have been improved instead of calling them out like this.

    Everyone can improve their game, even the very best of us in the industry. Perhaps it comes down to whether it’s about elevating design as a whole, or grabbing a few more page views.

    • Fred V

      Wow. Would I recommend the design team who created this article? Probably not.

      I’m shocked that you’d request names of web designers and hold them up to your standards publicly.

      I’d be extremely careful about being a judge of other people’s work at all times. The way this was handled smacks of arrogance and false elitism.

      The Graveris’ team would be better served pointing to samples of the excellent, and providing reasons why employers should want these skills.

      Also, Flash is still being requested as a job skill these days. Flash and Flex are on the way out IMHO, however these are still many agencies that seek these skills.

      BTW this web form does not label the form fields correctly. I had to read the source code to figure out what to put in the fields. Please look after your website.

      • James Richman

        Hey Fred

        Thanks for reading this article and commenting.

        This article was not intended to offend anyone or judge anyone.
        It really was about showing what are the few things to avoid if you don’t want to look unprofessional.

        In no way my aim was to offend anyone, I’m sorry if it has happened.
        Just like everyone – I myself have to learn and learn and learn.

        So your comment is again – another lesson for me :)

        Thanks a lot Fred!

      • Fred,
        would you recommend – no? Well, I could than say that we receive tons of requests of people who would like for us to do design job, but that’s not the point..

        But I see your point how message may seem to be arrogant if you look at it like that. However I still think you are not being fair – can you look back at past year articles we have created just for your learning? Do they seem arrogant or maybe you read this site because you can learn something new?

        If you want to check out excellent website design examples, we have created countless of these articles, here you go –

        We are just trying something new – sometimes we succeed, sometimes we don’t, but point is always to provide value :)

        About Flash popularity – can you please point out source of your information? Because that doesnt make any sense, especially since Adobe stopped supporting their own software.. Flash a while ago.

        About web form labeling, I am sorry, but I cannot find the issue – if you would be so kind and send me email with screenshot to dainis at 1stwebdesigner com so we can fix it, I would be so thankful! This website design is new and of course, we still have some bugs and mistakes, but we are fixing them all the time!

        Thanks again for your valuable input, Fred! Appreciate you taking time to share!

        • FredV

          Remember no one is exempt from mistakes and failure to view the big picture. I do see your site as being helpful to thousands of fresh talent looking to merge into web design. But the buck stops there.

          I’ve seen some rudimentary articles on this blog that do serve this segment, however I think rather than suggesting you are experts, I’d say your blog content is only somewhat above its audience, and I hope you don’t lose sight of that.

          I am constantly searching FED jobs and there are always a handful of agencies that are still looking for Flash/Flex app and banner ad developers. Simply look for them. Everyone knows Adobe stopped chasing that rabbit several years ago, however there is still around 5 to 10% of the market that is doing old school. It’s only human. AS3 is not quite dead yet and some major sites still use Flash components in one form or another.

          I only pointed out errors in your site because I was infuriated about the lack of thought and professionalism put into this article and the attitudes you are passing along. Perhaps you’ll include an article regarding professional testing techniques at some point.

          Gratz if you’re getting jobs primarily because of your visibility and presence. May you never profess a position that you can’t deliver.

        • FredV

          Yeah, and what’s so bad about Taylor Swift in particular relative to this article?

          I don’t particularly care for her either, but again, I’d never hold her up as an example of something that is bad across the board.

          Tons of people like her and she sells a lot of… (well, whatever she sells)… but there’s no accounting for taste, is there?

        • Tim

          Dainis, Flash is being used less in web design as a whole, but it is still quite popular at creating animations, even if to save out as GIFs. It will also save out as HTML5. It’s also used to create some animated television series.
          Many intranets also use it because it is easy to hook the interface into a backend database and deliver the same user experience across all platforms (aside from mobile).

    • James Richman

      Hey John
      I’m sorry to hear you find this article delivered in poor taste.
      Well, we all learn, myself including.

      Regards embarrassing these people.
      To be honest it was not my goal whatsoever.

      I think internet is open where you can express your thoughts and opinions.
      And I’m sorry if I have offended anyone. I really hope just for the best – that the guys mentioned in this article would just take it as an advice to learn and change few things in what they do.

      The same with myself, all of these comments are a really great proof of what I need to take in consideration for my next articles. What you like and what you do not.

      Thank you for your opinion once again John :)

      • Marc K

        I have enjoyed reading 1stWebDesigner in the past. I have no problem with bad examples being showed, that is part of the critiquing process. Anyone that is involved in design should be able to take negative criticism. It is how we learn; from our mistakes.

        I do have one question though…who wrote the article? The style and the sheer number of mistakes in the reply post compared to the article is just too different. I have a hard time believing that the author of the response post and the article are the same. I am in no way saying I am perfect; I am not. I am just saying that I have a hard time believing that an authors writing style and number of mistakes can be that different in 1 to 2 days.

    • Hey John, as James pointed out goal wasnt at all to embarrass people publicly, but to show the point.. – you can usually show point by showing either the most beautiful, best examples or showing the worst.

      Average designs simply do not offer clear lesson, because they are neither right/neither wrong.

      We didnt include links to sites, though with last example I admit we should have done it differently, we blurred out these parts now.

      What I liked that after this article was published people kept pointing out mistakes in 1stWebDesigner. Of course, we are making bad taste mistakes ourselves too – and I dont have problem admitting that and fixing those mistakes :)

      In final, I would say, don’t look at this article as us wanting to blackmail anybody – let’s all learn from mistakes and improve our own sites!

      As some commentators pointed out – sometimes portfolio site doesnt even matter, but I am pretty sure that’s because they have relationships, offline contacts, recommendations already. But then again imagine you going to important meeting in dirty shirt and sneakers. You wouldn’t do that.

    • Ridwan Sheikh

      Generally speaking John, your point is valid but for this purpose, the ‘naming-and-shaming’ approach is quite common. Real mistakes need Real examples.

      It’s also been known when highlighting bad design to individuals, they believe they’re still right, perhaps on the basis of having customers, no matter how small the number. You’ be surprised at how many people change their mind, once they see a common theme of feedback comments from such posts. (After all, everybody can’t be wrong!).

  30. Wayne

    “How does it make you feel? Does it remind you of good quality work, fast service or trust?”

    Yes, it does actually. You write an article about bad web design, but for that example you do not tell us why you think it is bad. What’s the problem? I see no problems with it.

    • James Richman

      Hey Wayne

      Well, if you have a look at it again – that part of the article talks about Headers.
      And bad quality headers are a really off putting element, as it’s one of the first thing you see.

      Don’t you agree? What do you think is the worst web design mistake then?

    • James Richman

      Ahoy Venkatesh

      Thanks for your comment,
      I’m glad you enjoyed the article and you learned something from it.

      Have you already got your personal portfolio website?

  31. Daniel

    Every profession has its dabblers. I met tens of worst portfolios and webdesigners then these mistakes above (maybe the last is enough bad for example), and what surprises me, that they have some clients (not that much tough). I also saw some webdesigners who use the free website builders and all the sites in their portfolios look like the client made it for himself. Maybe its cheaper (but not all) altough a company should have enough knowledge to use themes or crowdsourcing platforms if they have smaller budget. Wise words and advices in this article, anyway these extremes does not really have enough skill to build a great site, altough they offer these services. They usually dont think these are real advices to them and just don’t listen to fellow designers, news, trends (there is always exceptions of course). Some of them may think its easy money, just throw something together aaand its done, without any extra effort. Meanwhile somebody who wants to be professional works and learns his/her ass off at home or at agencies, read the news on the toilet, learn js when walk the dog or just get an idea of a website from the meal he/she makes for dinner. And it makes difference, like in any other professions.

    • James Richman

      Hey Daniel

      Wow, such an insightful and in-depth comment mate :)
      You’re totally right, there are people that will put in some effort to learn more about the industry.

      But at the same time there will be people who think, it’s really easy money, let’s put something real quick together.
      At the same time you can always learn as you earn in web design industry.

      Do you know any really bad web design example?

  32. AND I put the Under Construction sign on my site! I knew the others were bad web design, but Under Construction? Thanks a lot! I just got a few more ideas how to do up my website construction page!

    • James Richman

      Hey Bravo

      Nothing wrong with an under construction sign where it’s needed.
      But you see if your portfolio is under construction, that doesn’t really look impressive, does it?

      It’s a good idea to at least get some volunteer work done and put it up in your portfolio section :)

      What about yourself? Do you believe there are few mistakes in web design that I’ve missed here?

    • James Richman

      Hey Alexander

      Thanks a lot for your comment mate.
      I’m really lad you enjoyed them :)

      What’s in your mind a really important mistake to avoid in web design?