The Ugly Showcase of Military, Intelligence And Defense Websites

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Members of military and intelligence forces around the world risk their lives daily to defend their countries and assist in peacekeeping and aid missions both at home and abroad. The men and women who make up the world’s defense forces make sacrifices that most civilians wouldn’t consider to serve their countries.

So, with everything they do for us, shouldn’t they be represented online by website designs that reflect the honor and responsibility they undertake every day? Unfortunately, that’s not the case in many countries out there. Many military websites out there are some of the worst designs in any industry. Whether they’re outdated, broken or designed by amateurs, some of the websites showcased below are bad enough to make you cringe.

There are some good ones, though. A number of countries have obviously dedicated the time and resources necessary to project a professional and polished Web presence for their members. A number of other websites have obviously put in some effort and are pretty close. If you know of examples of other great military or intelligence websites from around the world, please add them in the comments!

The Outdated

The websites featured here might have looked great 10 or more years ago (which was likely when they were created). But either their designs haven’t been updated in a very long time or their designers are still borrowing conventions from the late ’90s.

Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Argentina1
Everything from the color scheme to the header image to the skinny three-column layout dates this design.

Screenshot2

Royal Bahamas Defence Force3
This website wouldn’t look quite so dated if it weren’t for the drop-shadows behind the content blocks.

Screenshot4

Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela5
The overall layout of this website screams early-2000s.

Screenshot6

Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Belarus7
Very minimalistic website. Unfortunately, gradients, tiny links and many &nbsp-empty spaces make it look dated.

Screenshot8

Colombian National Police9
Here’s another great example of a website that would have looked right at home in the late ’90s or early 2000s.

Screenshot10

Hellenic Navy11
The thing that dates this website the most is its width: it would look right at home on a screen with a resolution of 800×600.

Screenshot12

Macedonian Ministry of Defence13
The layout, the partially rounded corners and the drop-shadow against the background all date this website.

Screenshot14

Pakistan Maritime Security Agency15
Using an image like this one as a background was very popular in the ’90s.

Screenshot16

Serbian Ministry of Defense17
The layout here is almost grid-like, but it doesn’t quite make it. The color scheme is the most outdated, though.

Screenshot18

Slovenian Armed Forces19
Another website that would have been current 8 to 10 years ago.

Screenshot20

Spanish Armada21
The rounded colors and glossy buttons would have looked great a few years ago, but now they just harken back to the earliest days of the Web 2.0 style.

Screenshot22

The Russian Federation Ministry of Defence23
The design has a striking resemblance to traditional Google AdSense blocks, and the line-height property for the content area certainly should be increased..

Screenshot24

Sri Lanka Ministry of Defence25
The color scheme and typography here are definitely reminiscent of Web design 5 to 10 years ago.

Screenshot26

U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation27
The skinny layout, color scheme and overall look of this website feel at least 6 to 7 years old.

Screenshot28

U.S. National Reconnaissance Office29
This website screams late ’90s and early 2000s, especially the navigation and typography.

Screenshot30

Uruguayan Air Force31
This looks like it was based on a standard template from 5 to 10 years ago.

Screenshot32

The Poorly Coded

These websites might not have been so bad if they were cross-browser compatible and adhered to Web standards even a little. But they are all so poorly coded that they don’t render correctly in browsers such as Firefox or Safari.

Luckily, there aren’t too many of them.

Brazilian Army33
The coding on this website isn’t noticeably horrible… except for all the thin white lines running through the backgrounds and borders of the content blocks.

Screenshot34

Pakistan Navy35
I don’t even want to begin figuring out how they got the rounded-corner background to repeat like that in the main content area.

Screenshot36

South African Army37
This website wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for the giant gray bar running down the main column, effectively blocking half the content.

Screenshot38

United States Special Operations Command39
The headers for all the content blocks here are fine, except the one for the news feeds, which prefers to be higher up on the page.

Screenshot40

The Poorly Designed

These websites are just poorly designed. Some look like they were based on stock templates… bad ones. Others look like they were designed in programs aimed at hobbyists or those needing to set up personal websites (in any case, definitely not appropriate for government agencies).

Venezuelan Bolivarian Army41
Between the color scheme, the header (which doesn’t come close to spanning the whole design) and the broken icons, this website just doesn’t look good at all.

Screenshot42

Cuban National Defence43
I’m not sure where to begin with this one…

Screenshot44

Egyptian Armed Forces45
It looks like they couldn’t decide whether they wanted a minimalist website.

Screenshot46

Republic of Fiji Military Forces47
This looks like your classic template website, with minor modifications.

Screenshot48

Ministry of Defence of Georgia49
This wouldn’t be so bad if the content areas weren’t so disjointed.

Screenshot50

Indian Air Force51
This might have been salvageable, except for the horrible alignment.

Screenshot52

Kenyan National Security Intelligence Service53
The padding and margins in this website aren’t adequate, and the alignment is off in places. The concept is sound; it just needs to be better executed.

Screenshot54

Lebanese Army55
This website might not have been so bad if the colors complemented the camouflage background, rather than clashed with it.

Screenshot56

The Philippine Marine Corps57
This is another one for which I’m not even sure where to start.

Screenshot58

Polish Land Forces59
Forget for a moment how amateurish this one looks. Notice how the text doesn’t even match up with the navigation buttons.

Screenshot60

Portuguese Army61
From the header alone, it’s not so bad. It’s the lower area of this website that doesn’t seem to have any aim.

Screenshot62

Romanian Land Forces63
I’m still trying to figure out if that white bar across the top of each column is supposed to be there. Beyond that, they should have paid more attention to how the header colors go with the rest of the color scheme.

Screenshot64

Royal Thai Army65
There’s just way too much going on here, and no focal point to grab your attention.

Screenshot66

Turkish Air Force67
This almost made it into the “Not So Bad” category below, except that it doesn’t have any focus, and the alignment of some elements is off.

Screenshot68

Ministry of Defence of Ukraine69
The ads on this website should be better integrated in the overall design. Other than that, the design looks very dated.

Screenshot70

United Arab Emirates Ministry of Defence71
Where’s the content?

Screenshot72

Zimbabwe Ministry of Defence73
There’s no color scheme here, and the entire thing looks like something a kid did in class.

Screenshot74

The Not-So-Bad

The websites here aren’t terrible. In most cases, only minor things hold them back. Most of them could be great with just a bit more work.

Ministry of Defence of The Republic of Armenia75
Other than the width of this website (which is a bit narrow for even an 800 x 600 display), it’s not a terrible design.

Screenshot76

Australian Secret Intelligence Service77
This design is just fine, other than being a bit boring. And the text could be slightly enlarged for easier reading.

Screenshot78

Ministry of Defense of Bosnia and Herzegovina79
If more attention was paid to the baseline or vertical rhythm, this would be a reasonably good design.

Screenshot80

British Secret Intelligence Service81
The angles in this design should either be better incorporated into the other elements or removed altogether. Other than that, it’s not bad.

Screenshot82

Bundeswehr83
This is one of those websites that doesn’t have anything particularly wrong with it. It’s just underwhelming.

Screenshot84

Ministry of National Defense of the People’s Republic of China85
The elements on this website don’t quite have enough continuity, but the color scheme and overall layout are good.

Screenshot86

Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Croatia87
This website is also underwhelming. Nothing particularly “wrong” with it, but not impressive either.

Screenshot88

Ecuadorian Army89
The header here isn’t that bad, but the rest of the website doesn’t match up, and it feels a bit like a generic template.

Screenshot90

Ecuadorian Navy91
Parts of this website are great (the slidehow in the header, for instance) but other parts don’t quite match up, particularly the buttons on the right-hand side and the off-center navigation elements.

Screenshot92

Armed Forces of Honduras93
This website isn’t bad. But again, nothing makes it stand out.

Screenshot94

Norwegian Ministry of Defense95
Another example of a website that doesn’t do anything to stand out.

Screenshot96

Peruvian Air Force97
The idea here is good, but the result isn’t very interesting.

Screenshot98

Portuguese Ministry of Defense99
Another inoffensive yet unimpressive website.

Screenshot100

Portuguese Navy101
This would be great, but it has just a little too much going on. Some negative space would make a huge difference.

Screenshot102

Saudi Arabian Ground Forces103
This website is more interesting than some of the others here, but it doesn’t quite pull it together.

Screenshot104

Sri Lanka Navy105
Here’s another website that looks like a template. The use of white space could be better and makes everything look a bit disjointed.

Screenshot106

Swiss Army107
Another underwhelming, uninteresting design. At least it looks professional.

Screenshot108

US Air Force109
A professional yet boring design. But maybe that’s how military websites should look?

Screenshot110

US Central Intelligence Agency111
This website is way too narrow, and overall it’s just not eye-catching.

Screenshot112

US Department of Defense113
Too much is going on here, and the social media links (the icons especially) on the left look out of place.

Screenshot114

US Navy115
The icons and banners in the header don’t really fit the rest of this design.

Screenshot116

A Few Good Sites

The websites below are the stars of this post. They are well designed, easy to use, professional and worthy of representing the armed forces and intelligence services.

Austrian Armed Forces117
This one’s clean and well laid out, with plenty of white space and a great color scheme.

Screenshot118

British Army119
A professional-looking website, with a background that’s more interesting than most.

Screenshot120

British Royal Air Force121
Another website with an interesting background and a clean overall design.

Screenshot122

British Security Service MI5123
The color scheme here is great, as is the overall aesthetic, which is a cross between minimalist and magazine-style.

Screenshot124

Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Bulgaria125
A clean, well thought out design that makes good use of textures and gradients.

Screenshot126

Chilean Navy127
The header here is fantastic, and the rest of the layout works well.

Screenshot128

Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces of the Czech Republic129
Another great header design: this one doubles as navigation. Each section of the website has a different color scheme, while maintaining the same basic look.

Screenshot130

Defence Command Denmark131
A minimalist layout that leaves plenty of white space.

Screenshot132

The Finnish Defense Forces133
A clean and organized design, with double-tabbed navigation bars.

Screenshot134

Netherlands Ministry of Defence135
The purple color scheme here is unexpected, but it works well and sets the website apart.

Screenshot136

Polish Ministry of National Defense137
This is one of the nicest designs in this post, especially because of the header.

Screenshot138

Swedish Armed Forces139
A good clean design with a minimalist aesthetic and great typography. The transparent titles over the images on the right really take it up a notch.

Screenshot140

US National Security Agency141
Professional, easy to use and coherent: everything an intelligence website should be.

Screenshot142

US Army143
The US Army website brings together a lot of content of various types while maintaining a usable and consistent user interface.

Screenshot144

US Marine Corps145
This website stands out mostly because of the grid used for the main content area and the ample white space everywhere else.

Screenshot146

(al)

Footnotes

  1. 1 http://www.mindef.gov.ar/
  2. 2 http://www.mindef.gov.ar/
  3. 3 http://www.rbdfmil.com/
  4. 4 http://www.rbdfmil.com/
  5. 5 http://www.mindefensa.gov.ve/
  6. 6 http://www.mindefensa.gov.ve/
  7. 7 http://www.mod.mil.by/news_eng.html
  8. 8 http://www.mod.mil.by/news_eng.html
  9. 9 http://www.policia.gov.co/portal/page/portal/HOME/Home/operatividad
  10. 10 http://www.policia.gov.co/portal/page/portal/HOME/Home/operatividad
  11. 11 http://www.hellenicnavy.gr/index_en.asp
  12. 12 http://www.hellenicnavy.gr/index_en.asp
  13. 13 http://www.morm.gov.mk/morm/en/homepage.html
  14. 14 http://www.morm.gov.mk/morm/en/homepage.html
  15. 15 http://www.msa.org.pk/
  16. 16 http://www.msa.org.pk/
  17. 17 http://www.mod.gov.rs/
  18. 18 http://www.mod.gov.rs/
  19. 19 http://www.slovenskavojska.si/en/
  20. 20 http://www.slovenskavojska.si/en/
  21. 21 http://www.armada.mde.es/ArmadaPortal/page/Portal/ArmadaEspannola/_inicio_home/
  22. 22 http://www.armada.mde.es/ArmadaPortal/page/Portal/ArmadaEspannola/_inicio_home/
  23. 23 http://www.mil.ru/eng/
  24. 24 http://www.mil.ru/eng/
  25. 25 http://www.defence.lk/english.asp
  26. 26 http://www.defence.lk/english.asp
  27. 27 http://www.fbi.gov/
  28. 28 http://www.fbi.gov/
  29. 29 http://www.nro.gov/
  30. 30 http://www.nro.gov/
  31. 31 http://www.fau.com.uy/
  32. 32 http://www.fau.com.uy/
  33. 33 http://www.exercito.gov.br/
  34. 34 http://www.exercito.gov.br/
  35. 35 http://www.paknavy.gov.pk/
  36. 36 http://www.paknavy.gov.pk/
  37. 37 http://www.army.mil.za/
  38. 38 http://www.army.mil.za/
  39. 39 http://www.socom.mil/SOCOMHome/Pages/default.aspx
  40. 40 http://www.socom.mil/SOCOMHome/Pages/default.aspx
  41. 41 http://www.ejercito.mil.ve/index.php
  42. 42 http://www.ejercito.mil.ve/index.php
  43. 43 http://www.cubagob.cu/otras_info/minfar/default.htm
  44. 44 http://www.cubagob.cu/otras_info/minfar/default.htm
  45. 45 http://www.mmc.gov.eg/
  46. 46 http://www.mmc.gov.eg/
  47. 47 http://www.rfmf.mil.fj/
  48. 48 http://www.rfmf.mil.fj/
  49. 49 http://www.mod.gov.ge/?l=E&m=5&sm=5
  50. 50 http://www.mod.gov.ge/?l=E&m=5&sm=5
  51. 51 http://indianairforce.nic.in/
  52. 52 http://indianairforce.nic.in/
  53. 53 http://www.nsis.go.ke/
  54. 54 http://www.nsis.go.ke/
  55. 55 http://www.lebarmy.gov.lb/?ln=en
  56. 56 http://www.lebarmy.gov.lb/?ln=en
  57. 57 http://marinecorps.mil.ph/
  58. 58 http://marinecorps.mil.ph/
  59. 59 http://www.army.mil.pl/
  60. 60 http://www.army.mil.pl/
  61. 61 http://www.exercito.pt/portal/exercito/_specific/public/allbrowsers/asp/default.asp
  62. 62 http://www.exercito.pt/portal/exercito/_specific/public/allbrowsers/asp/default.asp
  63. 63 http://www.en.forter.ro/en/
  64. 64 http://www.en.forter.ro/en/
  65. 65 http://www.rta.mi.th/torbor.html
  66. 66 http://www.rta.mi.th/torbor.html
  67. 67 http://www.hvkk.tsk.tr/homeEng.aspx
  68. 68 http://www.hvkk.tsk.tr/homeEng.aspx
  69. 69 http://www.mil.gov.ua/index.php?lang=en
  70. 70 http://www.mil.gov.ua/index.php?lang=en
  71. 71 http://www.mod.gov.ae/en/
  72. 72 http://www.mod.gov.ae/en/
  73. 73 http://www.mod.gov.zw/
  74. 74 http://www.mod.gov.zw/
  75. 75 http://www.mil.am/eng/index.php
  76. 76 http://www.mil.am/eng/index.php
  77. 77 http://www.asis.gov.au/index.html
  78. 78 http://www.asis.gov.au/index.html
  79. 79 http://www.mod.gov.ba/en/
  80. 80 http://www.mod.gov.ba/en/
  81. 81 http://www.mi6.gov.uk/output/sis-home-welcome.html
  82. 82 http://www.mi6.gov.uk/output/sis-home-welcome.html
  83. 83 http://www.bundeswehr.de/portal/a/bwde
  84. 84 http://www.bundeswehr.de/portal/a/bwde
  85. 85 http://eng.mod.gov.cn/
  86. 86 http://eng.mod.gov.cn/
  87. 87 http://www.morh.hr/
  88. 88 http://www.morh.hr/
  89. 89 http://www.ejercitodelecuador.mil.ec/
  90. 90 http://www.ejercitodelecuador.mil.ec/
  91. 91 http://www.armada.mil.ec/
  92. 92 http://www.armada.mil.ec/
  93. 93 http://www.ffaah.mil.hn/
  94. 94 http://www.ffaah.mil.hn/
  95. 95 http://www.regjeringen.no/en/dep/fd.html?id=380
  96. 96 http://www.regjeringen.no/en/dep/fd.html?id=380
  97. 97 http://www.fap.mil.pe/
  98. 98 http://www.fap.mil.pe/
  99. 99 http://www.mdn.gov.pt/mdn/pt/
  100. 100 http://www.mdn.gov.pt/mdn/pt/
  101. 101 http://www.marinha.pt/PT/Pages/homepage.aspx
  102. 102 http://www.marinha.pt/PT/Pages/homepage.aspx
  103. 103 http://www.bariah.gov.sa/
  104. 104 http://www.bariah.gov.sa/
  105. 105 http://www.navy.lk/
  106. 106 http://www.navy.lk/
  107. 107 http://www.vtg.admin.ch/internet/vtg/de/home.html
  108. 108 http://www.vtg.admin.ch/internet/vtg/de/home.html
  109. 109 http://www.af.mil/
  110. 110 http://www.af.mil/
  111. 111 https://www.cia.gov/
  112. 112 https://www.cia.gov/
  113. 113 http://www.defense.gov/
  114. 114 http://www.defense.gov/
  115. 115 http://www.navy.mil/swf/index.asp
  116. 116 http://www.navy.mil/swf/index.asp
  117. 117 http://www.bmlv.gv.at/english/index.shtml
  118. 118 http://www.bmlv.gv.at/english/index.shtml
  119. 119 http://www.army.mod.uk/
  120. 120 http://www.army.mod.uk/
  121. 121 http://www.raf.mod.uk/
  122. 122 http://www.raf.mod.uk/
  123. 123 https://www.mi5.gov.uk/
  124. 124 https://www.mi5.gov.uk/
  125. 125 http://www.md.government.bg/bg/index.html
  126. 126 http://www.md.government.bg/bg/index.html
  127. 127 http://www.armada.cl/prontus_armada/site/edic/base/port/armada_ingles.html
  128. 128 http://www.armada.cl/prontus_armada/site/edic/base/port/armada_ingles.html
  129. 129 http://www.army.cz/
  130. 130 http://www.army.cz/
  131. 131 http://forsvaret.dk/FKO/ENG/Pages/default.aspx
  132. 132 http://forsvaret.dk/FKO/ENG/Pages/default.aspx
  133. 133 http://www.puolustusvoimat.fi/portal/puolustusvoimat.fi/english
  134. 134 http://www.puolustusvoimat.fi/portal/puolustusvoimat.fi/english
  135. 135 http://www.defensie.nl/
  136. 136 http://www.defensie.nl/
  137. 137 http://www.wp.mil.pl/en/index/
  138. 138 http://www.wp.mil.pl/en/index/
  139. 139 http://www.forsvarsmakten.se/en/
  140. 140 http://www.forsvarsmakten.se/en/
  141. 141 http://www.nsa.gov/
  142. 142 http://www.nsa.gov/
  143. 143 http://www.army.mil/
  144. 144 http://www.army.mil/
  145. 145 http://www.marines.mil/Pages/Default.aspx
  146. 146 http://www.marines.mil/Pages/Default.aspx

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Cameron Chapman is a professional Web and graphic designer with over 6 years of experience. She writes for a number of blogs, including her own, Cameron Chapman On Writing. She’s also the author of The Smashing Idea Book: From Inspiration to Application.

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  1. 1

    Of course, none of your design-related comments mean much in the grand scheme of things. A website either accomplishes its goals, or it doesn’t. Period. And since you know absolutely nothing about how well these sites accomplish their individual goals, this entire post is merely window dressing. You can say you do or don’t like gradients until the cows come home. But it doesn’t have anything to do with the success of a website.

    -1

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