Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Website design fail

In looking around at regional official travel sites, one struck me as a great example of what not to do.

VacationStMaarten.com is the official website for the St Maarten tourist board. And while visually it makes an immediate impression, spend any time on the site and its failings become obvious. Here are but a few.

  • Images don't have ALT text, describing them (or what might happen when you click on them).
  • There's minimal text on the home page this - this undoubtedly impacts their search engine positioning
  • The navigation is non-standard (Jakob Nielsen would have a fit)
  • There's no site map...
  • ...and there's no search box.
  • At 33mb it's so 'image heavy' it's too big even for http://www.websiteoptimization.com to analyse it.

And my two biggest gripes:

  • total inability to print any page. If I wanted to print accommodation info, or a list of beaches, or the wedding requirements I'd be totally out of luck. The site cries out for a 'printer-friendly version' icon I can click on
  • total lack of a contact e-mail

This is one of those sites I'd classify as 'over designed'. I understand the need to pique the interest of a visitor, and images certainly speak volumes, but it really is possible to strike a balance between functionality and aesthetics in a website (see DiscoverSVG.com!).