How to fail online — examples of websites that have failed and why

Guilty of Poor Design.

The 90s were chock-full of poorly designed websites. It makes sense, the internet was starting to come into mainstream use, and many computer hobbyists were trying their hand at making websites. That said, one website that should have been better was the CNN webpage for O.J. Simpson’s trial, which is miraculously still up and viewable. Right away, we see a cheesy 90’s clip art and a long unformatted list of related stories.

What Happened to Jeeves?

Next up, why don’t we look at an example that saw some success? Nowadays, just about everyone uses google, so much so that the term google is just a catchall for searching for something online. Younger internet users might not remember when Google wasn’t the dominant search engine, but it wasn’t always the case. One of the first popular search engines was called

The Problem with MySpace.

A more recent and still somewhat culturally relevant example is MySpace. MySpace originally started as a spin-off of Friendster (a social media platform from the early 2000s) but quickly took over the market.

Common Pitfalls.

Before we move on to examples of successful business websites with some longevity, we should look at some of the common pitfalls when designing a website.

Google's Mistake to Success

Google’s sparse, minimalist design can be traced back to when the founders were unfamiliar with HTML and just wanted a quick interface. While most websites, lack of arrangement could hinder it, it was a perfect fit for Google. If anything, Google’s barebones aesthetic contributed to its long-term success. Unlike AskJeeves or Yahoo, there wasn’t anything that could age poorly or that was superfluous.


What makes a website successful isn’t universal. It depends on who you are targeting and what is needed. If you are making a homepage for a business, you will not style it the same as a social networking site.



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A Seattle web design and online marketing agency that delivers high-end websites. A passion for web development and SEO.