It goes without saying that one of the keys to running a successful business is having a well-designed website that gets your point across effectively.  Your web presence says a lot about your business, and whether or not you can engage a potential customer without making them jump through hoops or force them to search for what you can offer them can make or break a conversion.  When designing your site, it’s just as critical to know what NOT to do as it is to know what TO do.  Let’s take a look at some big businesses who committed a fail in their web design, break down what’s wrong with it, and take away a lesson that you can apply to your own business.

1. Little Caesers

Right off the bat, this site offends by auto-playing music and showing their mascot skittering across the screen.  The days of force-feeding music to a visitor without his or her consent are long gone — this is highly frowned upon for a website hoping to conduct any sort of business.  While Little Caesers’ style is a little on the offbeat side, this is still a no-no.  Beyond that and the fact that the site itself isn’t exactly visually pleasing with its cheesy graphics, there’s no way to order pizza on the site.  If they wanted to compete with the top dogs in the pizza business, they would have this option available.  They also only offer one coupon, and you have to print it out.  What year are we in again?  Sorry, Little Caesers, I’m going to go with Dominos.

Takeaway: Know what your competitors are doing, and make sure you can offer everything they can and more.  Stay away from cheesy graphics and autoplaying music.

Little Caesers Website Disaster

2.  Bed Bath & Beyond

We all know Bed Bath & Beyond — they offer every item under the sun that you could ever want for your home.  Say you want a purple comforter under $60.  You could easily go to their site, click the bedding department, enter a sort by color and price option, and take your pick, right?  Nope.  The only sort option BB&B offers is by brand.  Is a cost-conscious consumer who knows exactly what they want going to waste their time browsing through the massive inventory selection on the site, or are they going to go to another website that gives them more options?  Bed Bath & Beyond is way behind in this area, and I wouldn’t doubt that they lose business because of it.

Takeaway: Know your customers and how they will search and use your website.  Make sure you buying your product easy.  If you force visitors to do all the work, they’re going to go somewhere else.

Bed Bath Beyond Website Disaster

3. My Fitness Pal

My Fitness Pal offers a free service to users who want to count calories and keep a food diary.  This is a valuable tool that a lot of people would probably love, but it’s hard to want to give it a chance when the site is riddled with intrusive ads and looks like a text-heavy eyesore!  Look, it’s all well and good if you want to use ads to monetize your website, but you don’t want it to be so in your face that it’s a complete turn off.  Look at this page for the nutritional content of a Milano cookie. There’s an ad smack dab in the center of the page, another one off to the right, and a banner ad at the bottom.  Yuck!  Consumers nowadays are fine with some ads and appreciate the fact that, especially if you’re offering a free service, you need a way to make money off your website — but there’s a right way to do it, and a wrong way.  This, my friends, is the wrong way.

Takeaway: Go easy on display ads, and put a little effort into make your site look presentable.

My Fitness Pal Website Disaster

Each of these businesses offer services or products that users want, but they could be doing a better job.  Learn from their mistakes and take a look at your own site with a new perspective.  Could you be doing better?

Join the conversation on Twitter!