What sucks about my website?

over 5 years ago from , Maker of Failory

Hey there! I am Nico Serdeir, co-founder of Failory.

Today I am here to ask you for some help, as during the last days I have been struggling so much with the design of my website.

If you enter to Failory, you will immediately realize I am not a designer ;) In fact, I suck designing. I am constantly reading articles, e-books, searching for some inspiration, but I run completely out of ideas when I have to start designing.

I started Failory a few months ago inspired by IndieHackers.com - I loved (and still love) their design, so I wanted to create something that looked similar, yet different. I didn't want to be seen as the IndieHackers for failures, but I wanted to keep a similar design. From these two contradictory thoughts, a strange and ugly website was born.

Since the beginning, people weren't happy with the appearance of the website. Just to give you an idea of how bad the website was at the starts, I had a font size of 12, which made content difficult to read. On the following months, based on feedback and my personal intuitions, I have improved the website a lot, but it still doesn't look well.

From "your website is not updated with the most recent trends", to "it looks like every boilerplate spam/scam site I've ever seen", I have received any type of feedback you can imagine.

And here it comes the worst thing. I know the design is not great... I know it can be really improved. But I don't know how! I see my website and I personally don't like it. But I can't figure out what is that I don't like.

That is why I am here today to ask you for some help. I would really appreciate if you could tell me what do you think it sucks from my website.

Thanks in advance!


  • Eric York, over 5 years ago

    Hi there. Brave of you to ask for feedback like this. Well, you are right there are issues. Certainly there are things to be happy about, but you asked, so here's my list. Overall, I'd say you have a start here, but need to keep iterating until you have an actual design. Remember, design is a process, not something you do once and be done with.

    Priorities, IMO

    • No clear identity, brand statement, etc. This is homepage material, top center. We need more than a single phrase to understand what this site contains and how to use it. Before jumping in, provide us with context. Related, there is no clear idea of who your audience is. (If you don't know what I mean by that, you should google about it).
    • Color palette is too aggressive, in my opinion. Fewer colors, easier on the eyes with more use of shading rather than different colors would be more to my taste and probably more effective at conveying information. Another, related problem, is the lack of color/design elements in many place. Use more design elements like backgrounds, shapes, borders, lines, points, etc. to break up the boring scroll through line after line of text. Don't just scatter these things in, of course, but use them as tools to create a cohesive design.
    • Typography is poor. Establish better visual hierarchy and use headings more effectively. Use font weight and position to convey relationships between information. Use font faces to convey identity.
    • Lack of visuals. Images if any are all small and don't play an integral role in communicating information. Strive to convey things visually. When you do use larger-sized visuals, currently, they are crammed into the middle column. Pull them out and make them big. Put words on top of them. Use them in some way.
    • Waaaaay too many words. Your site is filled with writing that no one will ever read. General advice from many online is to cut your number of words in half and then cut them in half again ;) I'd take this advice seriously and maybe even go for a third time. Strive wherever you can to present information through visual means. Tighten sentences so they act with purpose and focus. Mercilessly remove redundant and non-critical information (providing a way for readers to obtain secondary content if they want it).
    • Organize post content. For the articles themselves, no one is going to read undifferentiated content for long without giving up. Individual articles need much better internal organization/structure so that readers can skim (or raid) for the information they want, rather than having to read the whole piece and construct a mental map of where the content is. You are the writer, so it's your job to do that for them.

    Good luck and keep at it. You're not a bad designer, just need to keep iterating and iterating and iterating until you refine it. Look at models. Try on different ideas, even if you have no time and no budget. Strategize a way to get it done.

    (More on iteration: The ease with which we can change a design corresponds with our willingness to do so. That's why its essential we iterate with materials we can quickly manipulate, like post-it notes and paper sketches, so that we can iterate better and reach clarity faster.)

    12 points
    • , over 5 years ago

      Hey Eric. Thanks a lot! I really appreciate your feedback and will start working on improving the website, based on yours comments ;) Now that you say these things, I really see them on the website. But I wasn't able to discover them! Thanks again.

      2 points
  • Ken Em, over 5 years ago

    Not a suck so much but those tags / categories are so bright they are the first thing I'm looking at instead of the actual title of the business. I guess I think of such tags as secondary information which should be subdued. Good to have them, but they don't need to scream.

    I'm running a content blocker so I'm not seeing the CTA thing, but yeah, those are generally bad and hostile toward users.

    9 points
    • , over 5 years ago

      Okay, you are the second person who tells me the same. I should definitely do something. How would you improve them? Less opacity?

      0 points
      • Ken Em, over 5 years ago

        Personally, I would just make them more subdued in color.

        0 points
      • Vincent Jouty, over 5 years ago

        I would say it's not about colors, you may have to break the line. Something like this :



        tag tag tag tag

        Or align them so my eye does not have to browse left and right to find where they are.

        1 point
    • Duke CavinskiDuke Cavinski, over 5 years ago

      Agreed, your tags are designed in a way that makes them appear to be the most important thing on the page. It's pretty, but I'm totally ignoring the titles.

      1 point
    • Todd Padwick, over 5 years ago

      I disagree... most of these startups are unheard of, so let's be honest, who cares what the company name is. The titles are subjective, so again, not so relevant. So, that leaves the most important thing that I want to see when scrolling down the page is the tags. These tell me whether they are relevant to me and my project. Primarily the pink category tag.

      By the way, I think the site, on the whole, looks good and stands out. Colour palette could be seen as a bit jarring but I actually like it.

      0 points
      • , over 5 years ago

        Thanks for your kind words Todd! Some people are telling me I should make the name and brand of Failory more visible. Some others say I should do all the contrary. I will now check how it looks in both ways and use the one I like the most.

        0 points
  • Michael Nino EvensenMichael Nino Evensen, over 5 years ago

    Hire a designer?

    5 points
  • Eliot SlevinEliot Slevin, over 5 years ago

    For someone who isn't a designer, this is actually a fantastic job. You're doing a lot of things right, practical text contrast, mostly even spacing. You should be proud! My first website sucked ass! You've gotten a lot of great feedback on the aesthetics, I thought i'd just point out some experience things.

    A lot of content is hidden behind the hamburger. I dont know how much you want to promote your lists (i would argue they have less value than the content), but most people will never find them.

    The startup guide button looks like a login, or submit content link. I just presumed it was a register or something button so I never even looked at it. I think a better solution would be: have the side project guide a top level link, to the left of the ham. Then turn the red button into the 'submit startup' button - which is a super important action, as it drives content.

    Obv this is super inspired by indie hackers, which I love. However I think you're missing some descriptions to make me click on the stories.

    E.g. indie hackers each interview has name of the startup, then a one sentence description. Just from that I can get a basic understanding of what they do, and why I might be interested.

    I think this is even more important for your use case. I don't want to read about a failed startup, unless I'm interested in that market, or doing something similar. So it's crucial for me to click a link, that I know what that startup was doing.

    So one of your titles is : "Delite: How and Why it Failed". I didn't even read the tags even though they supply more info, because I'm so used to ignoring them on other sites. This title has a few thing, but no useful inforamation:

    1 - the name, cool, but doesn't tell me shit.

    2 - "How and why it failed", obviously thats why I'm here. The whole sites about that, no need to repeat it.

    What I'm missing:

    3 - Summary of what the company did. E.g. when I open I found "Delite was a SaaS platform for B2B wholesale orders." Maybe also add in it's for physical products.

    4 - Maybe a summary of the key market. "Started in the pet products niche"

    5 - Summary of failure "Didn't supply a strong nescisity, instead a 'nice to have'"

    So If we then rework that tile, could be something like


    A SaaS platform, for B2B wholesales orders, starting with pet products.

    KEY PROBLEM: Didn't solve a strong business necessity"

    Tells me heaps more about what this link is, and why I should click it. You might want to switch to a card style UI to allow a name, company description, and key failure reason. I'd argue the company description is the key info you're missing.

    But, it's looking great, excited to see version 2.0!

    3 points
    • , over 5 years ago

      Awesome feedback Eliot! Thank you very much ;) I will have to change to a card style. The biggest problem with this is that I don't have the logo of the companies, as some of them were only starting and didn't even have a branding. Would you put the profile pictures on those cards?

      1 point
  • Galen Strasen, over 5 years ago

    I was imagining that it would be much worse when I initially read this post. You've got decent bones to work with, but there is definitely room for improvement.

    1. When I landed on the website, it was difficult for me to discern off the bat what Failory is - I think "Failory: Learn from failed start ups" needs to be larger and I think there needs to be a line break after "Failory"

    2. The logo in the top left needs help. a) the image itself is pixelated - try using an SVG b) it is so small, it looks like an icon - ie an action/affrodance (like the share icon in the bottom right) - its not clear that this is your branding. c) why does it link to /index.html ?

    3. I think some hierarchy needs to be established between (as I said) "Failory: Learn from failed start ups"and the newsletter sign up area. Maybe wrap that form field and accompanying text in a box with a slightly lighter background?

    4. I agree with other commentors on the "tag" conundrum - if you want to use fun / bright gradients - use them on your CTA - not these tags

    5. I might try a masonry style "card" design for the interviews - as opposed to this list style... it took me a second to realize what that filterable content was - not super engaging as is.

    3 points
    • , over 5 years ago

      First of all, thanks for your feedback! I am glad to hear a designer saying the website is not so bad :) Let's get into the feedback.

      1. I will work out on a more descriptive tagline.
      2. I will now fix those errors with the logo. Just one question. Why should the logo link to the homepage? What should it link to?
      3. I will try to make a difference between the tagline and the newsletter form. I could understand the way you thought.
      4. Yes, I need to change the tags now!
      5. Mmm okay. I think the Masonry style is better. But it would look too similar to IH, so I will think it.

      Thanks again for your feedback, Galen!

      0 points
  • Russ BrownRuss Brown, over 5 years ago

    Long time reader, love this site mate. Keep doing your thing

    1 point
    • , over 5 years ago

      Thanks for your kind words Russ! I will keep publishing the new interview, and I promise you I will try to improve their quality every week :)

      0 points
  • Anand DoshiAnand Doshi, over 5 years ago

    Hi Nico. I like the concept of your website! But, right now the design and content does not draw me in to spend time on it. The landing page gives only a one line text preview of what each story is about, without connecting me to the founder or the product. I like the abstract at the top of each article. Perhaps you can use that in the front page listing.

    I think the existing content can be structured (as a story?) for more emotional impact. Failure hurts, and is an experience that forces us to grow. The reader is someone who wants to learn from this experience, and is likely looking for a sticky message. The interview structure could work too, but lacks a rhythm.

    You should look at how The Great Discontent does it: https://thegreatdiscontent.com/interview/gary-taxali

    As a first step, just add more pictures and screenshot to give readers some context. Right now I feel lost as to what product are you talking about. Also, use quotes to bring attention to important lessons or events.

    1 point
    • , over 5 years ago

      Thanks for your feedback Anand! I will start working on creating a structure that gives more emotional impact.

      During the last weeks, I have started to ask for some screenshots and pictures of the business. I am publishing at least 2 per interview. But one of the biggest problems I have found is that some failed startup owners I have interviewed, have deleted all the images and existing data from the internet, and from their computers :/

      0 points
    • Samantha S, over 5 years ago

      great link, thanks for sharing.

      0 points
  • Taylor PalmerTaylor Palmer, over 5 years ago

    Agree with much that has been said already.

    Also, looks like you took a lot of inspiration from indiehackers.com—down to the red underlined links.

    1 point
  • iterati designiterati design, over 5 years ago

    Interestingly, I always stumble upon links to Failory and noticed I hate the website (subjectivity) and instantly close the tab. I've been thinking why is it so, and here's what I came up with.

    The problem I see is that it looks like a landing page for a product or service, not a long-form reading page. That's the dissonance. I will not go into detail, I'm sure you can figure stuff out yourself.

    1 point
    • , over 5 years ago

      Okay, that's true. People who arrive directly to a Failory interview can think it is a landing page. I should work on this. However, I think that someone who is navigating around the website will realize its just a content page.

      0 points
      • iterati designiterati design, over 5 years ago

        Yes, you are right, but it's an additional cognitive load and it takes a while before you realise where you are and what you're supposed to do there.

        Also, stories on the homescreen look nothing like articles, and are overwhelmed by tags.

        In a nutshell, make the background white or dark-grey, make the type larger with body at least 18pt. Scale down on colors.

        1 point
  • Tyler RenfroTyler Renfro, over 5 years ago

    Combining Lato and Open Sans? Hindigar please.

    1 point
    • , over 5 years ago

      What would you change?

      1 point
      • Eric York, over 5 years ago

        Try a font pair that complements one another, rather than two that fill the same niche.

        1 point
      • James FutheyJames Futhey, over 5 years ago

        Another alternative is to just pick one of these fonts and stick with it. They're both robust enough to provide a good starting point for the main user task, which is essentially a blog post.

        0 points
        • , over 5 years ago

          Great! I will now check which is the best one.

          0 points
          • Tyler RenfroTyler Renfro, over 5 years ago

            I agree with both of the above comments. Mixing typefaces that have contrast in form, or only using one typeface for the entire project would be the best way to go

            0 points
  • Scott ThomasScott Thomas, over 5 years ago

    Side Commends

    • Remember to A/B test the new version and get feedback if its a drastic change.

    • Hot jar is analytics tool to watch your users use your site. They also let you prompt users with questions.

    • Also remember to find out what is working as well so you don't lose that as well.

    • Define what your goals are and set metrics... what does success look like for a new look.

    • Create a mood board of styles around the web that fit the vision of your brand.


    • Add the name to the site by the logo. Not all your users will come into the homepage... to be honest i like the big red text Failory on the homepage more then the icon.

    • Darker background makes it harder to read large amount of text.

    • Maybe better and more pronounced headlines since most of the companies are unknown. I wonder what get more clicks more direct with their problem like "How bad partners killed an e-Commerce" vs more vague one "From $250/Month to failure"

    • Summary text on the articles on the homepage, to provided better background to get me to click on a story.

    • Curious what is your share rate is since your share button is hidden

    • More imagery on the homepage. Just help me relate to the stories. Also make it look less of a link fest.

    • Filters to stand out more. I didn't even know they existed.

    Sorry for the formatting... DN keeps removing my list items

    0 points
    • , over 5 years ago

      This is such a valuable feedback Scott! Thank you very much ;)

      Here are a few answers to some of your points:

      • We know it is much more difficult to read on a dark background. Do you think we should change the colors? Our users already connect the dark theme with Failory.

      • Headlines with numbers tend to engage more :)

      • Where would you put the share button? We don't want to bother our readers, that is why it is the corner.

      • I will definitely make filters more visible!

      Thanks again Scott! I really appreciate this.

      1 point
      • Scott ThomasScott Thomas, over 5 years ago
        • Ha! Never excepted the hits on the numbers!

        • One way to increase legibility is to Increase the font-size and line height. Medium I think is 21px, Washington Post & verge is 18px. Darker background, will make user strain more to read, which is why you don't see a lot of dark sites that showcase blocks of content. Then again, if just me complaining about it, it not worth changing.

        • Regarding the share, that arrow you used is more for a "return" or "exit" then a share button. Usually share buttons have that weird molecule icon or a plus sign. Also, having it in the corner is more out of sight our of mind. This is why you find the social buttons on the left hand side of the article. If you are worried about space, addthis offers you different breakpoints to toggle methods to show it. I would try moving the share options around as an experiment and see what gets more action. http://www.addthis.com/get/share

        0 points
  • Duke CavinskiDuke Cavinski, over 5 years ago

    Maybe you don't mind, but scaling objects with text in them doesn't look very good on non-retina or standard def displays. The text becomes distorted and strange looking. I've avoided this in professional contexts despite how seductive the effect may be for some.

    0 points
  • barry saundersbarry saunders, over 5 years ago

    pick one of these, can't go wrong https://twitter.com/jongold/status/694591217523363840?lang=en

    0 points
  • Sam Linville, over 5 years ago

    That big giant orange dropdown CTA trying to get people to sign up for your emails has got to go. It triggered on a delay for me, so I had already tried to start exploring the page when it unceremoniously forced itself onto my screen. The animation was jerky, too.

    Other than that, one of the big things is that I think you should introduce some kind of white background for the actual interview content. On the one I clicked on (https://failory.com/interview/howell-market), there were images with white backgrounds that looked messy.

    Implementing some sort of variation in that dark background will also make the site a bit more dynamic– I really think this will go a long way towards improving things.

    Double check contrast ratios on all the text on the site– make sure it meets WCAG 2.0 minimum.

    The tag interaction is weird– you need some kind of hover state, and maybe also some way for people to understand that things are being filtered.

    0 points
    • , over 5 years ago

      First of all, thanks for your feedback. I really appreciate it.

      I have just quite the big orange CTA. I have been thinking about quitting it for many weeks, but I didn't want to as it converts pretty well. But, it sucks. So DELETED.

      White background seems like a great idea. We were even thinking of turning all the website to the white background. Does it make sense?

      What you say about filters and tag is totally true. I will create something to let users know which filter are they seeing.

      1 point
  • Ken Em, over 5 years ago

    The first thing that sucks is that there's no link to the site in this post. You're asking people to go look at it, but they shouldn't have to copy and paste or type in a URL to get there.

    0 points