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 Whether they’re outdated, broken or designed by amateurs, some of the websites showcased below are bad enough to make you cringe.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The Outdated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

    A great follow up to my article for Noupe some months back now: “The Ultimate Ugly Showcase of Current Government Websites” (http://www.noupe.com/showcases/the-ultimate-ugly-showcase-of-current-government-websites.html).

    There are some quite decent ones here, I like the British Royal Air Force site. Good work Cameron! :)

    -3
    • 2

      A great follow up comment to crow bar a link to your article.

      1
    • 3

      Indeed, it’s definitely a follow-up to your article. I recall ~50% of comments saying how bad your article was btw, and the same criticisms can be made of this one.

      1
      • 4

        This article is not that perfect, but it’s a hundred times better than your shameless plug link. No, definitely not a follow-up.

        1
  2. 5

    tot ugly to SHOW in every CASE.

    -1
  3. 6

    Haha funny to see this. Luckily the Dutch army does things better:

    http://www.werkenbijdelandmacht.nl/

    -1
  4. 7

    Cameron, what about Kosovo Defense Ministry http://mksf-ks.org/?page=2,1 which category would you put it?

    -1
  5. 8

    The website of the venzuelan Ministry of Defence is not “Bolivian and Venezuelan”… It’s “Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela”

    Very ugly site, BTW

    -1
  6. 9

    It’s called Bundeswehr not Brundeswehr ;) as a german website you should know that

    btw, some look really good, and i guess it’s just some of the countries don’t put much effort on their sites or don’t want to pay a professional designer

    0
    • 10

      Smashing Editorial

      June 23, 2010 3:27 am

      Thanks, Daniel. Corrected the typo. :-)

      -1
    • 11

      Well… it isn’t exactly not the ability for hiring a good designer…
      But in Bundeswehr’s case it is certainly the overall administrative approach which prohibts more excitement…. Just google and you might find the online-Corporate Design manual for the Bundeswehr…. it is detailled and comprehensive… even though it is quite outdated…

      But the PR work of our armed forced is traditionally subtle and kinda less bells ‘n whistles… compared to e.g. the U.S. Military…

      It reminds me of the case of the fired America Airlines designer who responded to the critisizm of their corporate website…
      It’s all structures and procedures after all…
      Cheers,
      M.

      -1
  7. 12

    Is it really useful? I think you are wasting your time with those kind of showcase. Did Smashing Mag ran out of good content?

    -2
    • 13

      Smashing Editorial

      June 23, 2010 3:30 am

      Gab, we are trying to be open-minded and cover both interesting and useful content on Smashing Magazine. Please take a look around, and check previous articles if you don’t like this one. The point of the article was to present the current state of the military / defense web design.

      0
      • 14

        To be fair, as a web designer, I find this article neither interesting or useful SM.

        -3
        • 15

          This article isn’t writen for you especially. I found the advices usefull, we can analize those websites in detail and we will know exactly what to avoid. As a designer, i always learn something.

          Good luck,

          1
      • 16

        I work full time as a web designer in a government agency. This article was really helpful. It is also nice to see that it can be done. One would be surprised how many user interface challenges I see, not to mention the political/bureaucratic website dogma.

        0
        • 17

          In a “design-by-committee” world or a “I-grab-all-the-power” situation, I imagine the web designers were being threatened to make changes by “creative” government administrators, holding a nuclear missile to the designer’s head.

          Obviously the request to the designer was to fit 20 liters of information into a five liter bucket while being given directions for content and not functionality or beauty. One of those jobs where you collect your paycheck and get drunk a lot to forget.

          -1
          • 18

            Interesting thoughts.. However, the-powers-that-be tend to be more concerned with the visual elements than the content. This is usually my biggest challenge: little to no content with grand ideas.

            …And it is a lovely paycheck. :D

            -1
    • 19

      I feel the same… lately the only bit is really worth visiting is the Smashing Network…

      -1
  8. 20

    Just and FYI. It is not the Bolivian and Venezuelan Army, its only the Venezuelan Army. The official name includes Bolivariano, in recognition of Simon Bolivar. And the Bolivian website is actually from Venezuela, same thing.

    Oh, and my eyes hurt. You would think if an army can afford a tank, they could pay for decent web designers.

    -1
  9. 21

    Federico Capoano

    June 23, 2010 3:25 am

    Military risk their life everyday. YES for who? For us? To protect us?

    NO!

    They risk their life for MONEY. Most soldiers have no other choice than join the army to sustain their family. They get BRAINWASHED.

    They risk their life every day for big reconstruction companies, weapon industry and the corrupted expanding bank system.

    They risk their life every day for the people who KILLED J.F. KENNEDY – for this reason I wouldn’t even dear to work for them or to be interested in checking out their web-site.

    Peace

    -2
    • 22

      That’s a very ignorant comment Federico…

      …And you have the freedom to post ignorant comments like that because Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen and Marines are out there everyday, risking their lives, defending those freedoms… which you obviously take for granted.

      0
      • 23

        Please tell me you’re joking Drew.. Didn’t you learn anything at high school? Defending our freedom, yea right. Oh wait, you’re american..

        -2
      • 24

        Federico Capoano

        June 23, 2010 1:57 pm

        Defending Freedom??

        Do you know anything about J.F. Kennedy?
        Do you know why they killed him?
        To shut him up because he wanted the people to be free from the corrupted banking system and secret societies.

        So you believe you are free?

        “The worst dictatorship is the one in which the citizens think to be free”

        These are not my words.
        Think about it

        PEACE

        PS: if you think I’m ignorant, well you should start to open your eyes
        In my opinion this is the crapest article here on SM. Ugly web-sites, sad subject.

        -2
    • 25

      Savarage and Federico Capoano if you’re not – from America – next time when you are invaded by alian forces don’t call America to save you butts. Call The UN they will help you for Sure.
      Get a life.

      0
      • 26

        Federico Capoano

        June 23, 2010 1:59 pm

        Italy and America are ruled by the same people, so there’s no need to call the UN, they’ll send their global army in case of need.
        Open your eyes.
        Peace

        -1
        • 27

          the world is controlled by a secret society that killed jfk, faked the moon landing, removed conan from the tonight show, something something vaccines, and orchestrated 9/11! wake up sheeple!!!

          -2
    • 29

      You should be thankful they are willing to do this so you don’t have to.

      2
    • 30

      I don’t usually advocate deleting comments, but if I were SM, I would delete this one.

      1
    • 31

      Wow dude…. you are on the wrong website…

      -2
    • 32

      I think Federico here needs to change out his tin-foil hat. Seems to be getting a touch rusty.

      0
    • 33

      The military risks their life for whatever reason they choose. I was in the Army and I was not brainwashed or anything like that. I joined simply to protect my country and do my part. Brainwashing implies that the military wants drones to do whatever is commanded of them. While I can’t vouch for other countries on that respect I’m sure they don’t either. A soldier should be a free-thinking individual who can carry out orders in the best way possible in a changing battlefield.

      As for all the other things you mention, you’re entitled to your opinion. I’m not arguing any point just putting my two cents in.

      0
  10. 34

    I agree with @Gab above. This is a total waste of time and look at the design of how it is presented here!
    Also i noticed that the american armed forces websites do not figure here at all.
    This leads me to believe that the writer is either
    A. From the american armed forces or,
    B. Employed by the American Armed forces or,
    C. Has a very limited dataset to play around with.
    D. Biased.

    -2
    • 35

      Saulo Maia Neto

      June 23, 2010 3:47 am

      No american armed forces websites? Did you read the whole post?

      0
    • 36

      Most US military sites use PKI so the user would have to have a client certificate issued by the DoD trusted root. That being said the American Armed Forces are represented 10 times in this article. That’s 4 more mentions than the closest runner-up. They appear in all but one category, the poorly designed.

      Bias indeed…

      -1
  11. 37

    Phew! The Dutch Ministry of Defence site made it in the ‘good ones’ section.

    (Yeah, I’m Dutch!)

    -1
    • 38

      Marijn van de r Werf

      June 23, 2010 3:34 am

      Let’s hope they’re NOT gonna switch that one to the universal design as well. I really liked the old ministry sites a lot better…

      -1
      • 39

        They will, before januari 2011 most government websites will use the same branding. Here is a list of the organisations involved: http://bit.ly/9Bljub

        I personally like the fact that the government is taking it’s websites very seriously, by developing the web standards for government websites (see http://webguidelines.nl ) and a single ‘corporate’ branding.

        -1
  12. 40

    I don’t think you can tell good professional design apart from others

    -1
  13. 41

    I really do not see any reason why this kind of web site should be other than ugly. I mean, there’s no point in spending a lot of money for a cool design. They just need to share the info, that’s all…

    -3
    • 42

      Smashing Editorial

      June 23, 2010 3:37 am

      Right. However, every site needs to be user-friendly and have a proper presentation of the content. Visual design is indeed not important, but usability should certainly play an important role, don’t you think?

      0
      • 43

        Of course, I agree. But think that those sites aren’t visited by designers, so they do not have so many critics. All those websites are in a way or another user-friendly. I really do not like to call them ugly. Actually, that’s what a professional website is, even if nowadays “professional” doesn’t have the same meaning anymore.

        I could design a better website interface, but that doesn’t mean I am much better than the one who designed one of those. This is just what a site of that kind is needing…

        -1
        • 44

          “… so they do not have so many critics.”
          I totally can’t agree with that: isn’t anybody who visits a website a critic of the visited website? And, by the way, if someone likes the design of a site, he or she will stay longer – the more information a visitor reads, the more he or she knows about the organisation behind. Maybe he or she will recommend the website, if it looks nice; not many people will recommend a website which has no good design. I think, it has immense impact on an organisation, whether its website is eye candy or just offering information in an average way…You would also rather look at a model in a nice dress than at one who wears a gunnysack, wouldn’t you? Even if you were interested in the character of the girl.
          And especially on the internet, a good design means the possibility to survive and not to drown in the mass of bad designs…

          -1
        • 45

          I kind of agree with this.

          The fact is good design and usuability needs to follow on from who the target audience is. Us looking at the site as a critique from an aesthetic point of view is pretty pointless. Yes I think some of the sites look ugly but thats merely an opinion. If 90% of their target audience are finding the site usuable and pleasing then it has done it’s job.

          These “professional” sites shouldn’t be taken out of context that they were designed for.

          -1
      • 46

        “Visual design is indeed not important” – Smashing Editorial

        …. what?

        -1
  14. 48

    Looks like lots of opportunities for some enterprising person to get some new business ;-)

    -1
  15. 49

    The French one would fit in the “is this really an official website?” category: http://www.defense.gouv.fr

    -1
  16. 50

    Great article, few ones are really stunning !
    French Minister of Defense could be in the outdated designs don’t you think ? => http://www.defense.gouv.fr

    -1
  17. 52

    In the “poorly designed” section, the “Bolivian Army” shows the site of Venezuelan Bolivarian Army. Bolivia is another country. Great post, btw

    -1
  18. 53

    Saulo Maia Neto

    June 23, 2010 3:45 am

    The first site in the “The Poorly Designed” section is also from Venezuela, and it has NOTHING to do with Bolivia. In Spanish, Bolivian is “boliviano”. “Bolivariano” refers to Símon Bolívar, a hero in several Spanish-speaking countries in South America.

    As for the designs, there is absolutely no design I would consider very good. Don’t the military hire professional webdesigners?

    -1
  19. 54

    So , you rated websites solely on their design, not content? As I understand, color schemes are GIVEN and defined by national color.

    -1
  20. 55

    Well this is interesting, especially the “few good sites”, because most of them are terrible. Chile, Czech and Poland have great, even fantastic headers? And the British army website is “professional-looking”? Give me a break.

    Considering the available resources of these institutions, overall their web-presence is a complete disgrace, and there’s no sugar-coating it. I’m not surprised, though, because the military tends to be one of the most conservative institutions out there.

    Not saying there aren’t any good ones, though. The Finnish and the MI5 do stand out.

    -1
    • 56

      I’d agree with this. It seems like while she was writing the article the overwhelming mediocrity of these sites wore her down and by the end of the post up was down and right was wrong.

      The one from Chile has the worst header- they didn’t even change the default photoshop settings on the outer glow before they collaged it all together. It’s better than a broken website from 1995, sure, but it still ain’t great.

      -1
  21. 57

    Mark Welbedacht

    June 23, 2010 3:57 am

    What about the recruitment website of the Royal Dutch Airforce:
    http://www.werkenbijdeluchtmacht.nl/

    -1
  22. 58

    This post is like a what not to do on websites! Good post :)

    Not Military, but Police – Police Service Of Northern Ireland.

    They had their website re-designed within the last year, check it out.

    http://www.psni.police.uk/

    -1
  23. 59

    Nothing beats http://www.stratologia.gr/ , which is the official website of the conscription office of Greece.

    And of course, most of the website is still under construction. Most of the links are also dead. 75% of the budget is (as always) from the European Union, so, money well spent Comrade-Generals (Yuri voice)

    Hooray for conscription.

    -1
  24. 60

    What do you think of navy.com why did you leave it out?

    -1
  25. 61

    Excellent article.

    -2
  26. 62

    I think this is an interesting showcase. It provides an insight into the relationship between a country and its army.
    One page I definitely missed is the website of the American Air Force (http://airforce.com/). It’s one of the most emotional, persuasive, well-designed military websites with a great use of different media. I think they had a high budget for that website and it shows how much there is the need for more volunteers for the american army.

    -1
  27. 63
  28. 64

    Arrg, you could have included us, the french :)

    http://www.defense.gouv.fr/

    -1
  29. 65

    good showcase, but there are a few other military websites that deserve a good mention, the Australian defence force has a pretty good website http://www.defencejobs.gov.au.
    The Canadian Forces have a fairly average website but its worth a look http://www.forces.ca and the Ministry of National Defence for the peoples republic of China have a really nice site as well eng.mod.gov.cn/.

    reply and tell me what you thought was best.

    -1
  30. 66

    For at least one on this list, things are changing. We are working together with the FBI to redesign a few of their pages. The FBI site overall is getting a redesign, and Level 2 is handling the history section, and the fun & games section. It might be painful until it’s done, but keep an eye on the FBI site for upcoming awesomeness.

    -1
  31. 67

    I work in law enforcement and I am sure a similar set of screenshots could be pulled together to say how bad our websites are collectively too.

    I believe that branding is very important because it promotes public confidence. A first impression lasts. Therefore, it doesn’t inspire me that some of the defense sites are so poor because it gives me an impression of the rest of the organisation being similarly badly run.

    However, I also understand that branding isn’t, and shouldn’t be, the priority of most of these organisations. Defense or law enforcement is. It seems a little unfair to criticise them especially as most of them are publicly funded and facing extreme financial difficulties at the moment.

    A showcase like this is interesting when it promotes best practice but just criticism for the sake of it seems a waste and not constructive at all.

    -1
  32. 68

    US Central Intelligence Agency – as for me it is really cool…

    what do you want from them? some crazy orange and lime colors to catch eye? they just have straight official style…

    do you really think for example British Army site looks better O.o yeah…fading background is so up to date…

    -1
  33. 69

    I cant believe some of the sites you have suggested are good! There mostly all shockingly poor. Describing the Ecuadorian Army header which cant even repeat a background properly as great is beyond me.Smashing mag, perhaps you could try harder to ensure you publish articles from people with a basic understanding of the subject there writing about in future?

    -1
    • 70

      Smashing Editorial

      June 23, 2010 5:36 am

      At no point did the author of the article suggest that Ecuadorian Army is great. Please read the article again. Compared to sites mentioned in the very beginning of the article, this design is better.

      -1
  34. 71

    hey guys what you think about the mexican one: http://www.sedena.gob.mx/
    same ugly template used by all the mexican gov sites.
    I apreciate all your comments and what’s the comunity’s opinion

    -2
  35. 72

    That Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Belarus site gave my index finger a nice beefy workout on the mouse wheel having to scroll the content. The only two things I can say to that particular site are: a) ‘why’? and b) CMS.

    -1
  36. 73

    Hugely proud that the UK forces made it into the Good category.

    Don’t forget the ‘senior service’ http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/

    It would be interesting to come back to this one in a year or so, to see how this particular bunch of sites has further evolved – side by side.

    -1
  37. 74

    Darpa should be up there with the ugly’s at no.1 fact.
    http://www.darpa.mil/

    -1
  38. 75

    Holy crap, I feel like I am back in high school.

    -1
  39. 77

    Fun to watch, although I don’t always agree. For instance don’t understand how the “Defence Command Denmark”-website could go under “Good sites” – It’s just plain borring to look at :-)

    -1
  40. 78

    oh god let me unsee this

    -1
  41. 79

    http://www.iaf.org.il/Templates/Homepage/Homepage.aspx

    The Israeli Air Force site is a good example of great design and ui work..

    -1
  42. 84

    The Indian air force website is hilarious. Speaks to so many levels to me why not to hire an Indian outsourcing company. Lots of nastiness here, but I don’t expect much from government sites. Most of these are not created by designers, but someone who doesn’t know anything about websites, design or code.

    Mostly managers that want something to do with their day, or, an intern looking to take a break from support calls.

    I know there is a dream of all sites being clean, accessible, and up-to-date, but truly, there isn’t enough talent in this industry, or funding to complete, all the projects in the world. But, there’s no reason to stop trying to make the web world a better place ;).

    -3
    • 85

      Actually, I believe most of the web design and programming is done by the servicemen and women themselves. When I was taking Maya classes back in 2000, there was an army guy there and he was being paid by the army to learn Maya so he can do animations for them…i.e., new tanks and explosions and such, simulations type.

      I would cut these military designers some slack as I am sure they spend most of their day doing drills and training.

      -1
  43. 86

    Add one, this is Indonesian Military website: http://www.tni.mil.id/

    -1
  44. 87

    It would be more interesting to see a showcase of Military Recruitment Websites.

    -1
  45. 88

    Great article! The British and Finnish (my country!) seems to have the best websites. The Finnish Defence Forces even have a couple of RSS-feeds to the Finns, one with regular news and one that tells where they are training/shooting at the moment. And even if it’s split up in the Army, Navy, Air force and so on, they’re all on the same website. Something for the other countries to take learn from!

    -1
  46. 89

    saddly true. I’m from Argentina and i’m not glad to say that every page that belong to the government, or deppends on it, are very out of date. But, due to some research i’ve made a time ago, i’d notice that this is so because they have the same “designers” (if i can call them designers) from the 90’s. They are fulltime hired, and they answer to nobody. A disaster, endless loadings, overcharges, and what about cross-browsing…. forget about it! well, it works on IE6 however… but only on it…

    a disaster and a shame

    -1
  47. 90

    I see these websites as being a source of information, there’s no reason to get a marketing company involved and pay the tens of thousands to dress them up in a coat of gloss. Personally I’d rather the MOD, Army and British Navy spend more time and money investing in our current troops than throwing huge wads of cash at their already bloated advertising budget.

    Edit: That was probably a little more political than I intended to get, but my point still stands.

    -1
    • 91

      Why not take pride in all that you do?

      -1
      • 92

        Pride has nothing to do with fitting workload into budget restrictions and making sure money isn’t being wasted by ‘updating’ 10 year old websites so they look new and trendy amidst the sea of CSS galleries and design portfolios out there.

        These sites should be functional with easy to update copy. They’re information websites.

        -1
        • 93

          I disagree that they are purely ‘information’ sites – they do have other objectives than simply serving information. I expect they want to attract new recruits for example.

          -1
  48. 94

    [Offtopic: …. Book #1 is Professional Web Design, 242 pages for just $9,90.] – wow, thats an EXPENSIVE book.

    -1
  49. 95

    In fact, they mainly serve and help politicians corruption by oppressing innocents.
    If they don’t have good sites, it’s just a good thing, so they fool less people.
    Peace.

    -1
    • 96

      And Americans murdered thousands in the Serbian War. I was actually near the orphanage when they bombarded it with their smart bombs. 100+ babies dead.

      What now, should I not google anything anymore ?

      If you follow your mentality, you shouldn’t just not visit websites, you should stop breathing. You are human, no ?

      -1
  50. 98

    …the recruitment campaign webspecial of the swedish armed forces was pretty good:

    http://forsvar.fileflat.com/english/

    -1
  51. 99

    Go to Google … Type in “zimbabwe police” and then click “pictures” and (if you have a strong stomach) look and see what you are dealing with in your article

    How dare you refer to the thugs of the Mugbe and other dictatorship you and just say their web page design could be better

    – Chinese Forces = Tiananmen massacre
    – The Honduran overthrew the legal government last year
    – The Chilian and Argentinian, murdered and tortured tens of thousands in the 70s
    – Croatian and Serbian.. Have you forgotten the genocide a decade or so back ?

    What next .. a review of pedophile porn site designs maybe?

    I’ll give Smashing Mag a miss from now on!

    -1
    • 100

      Agree with you there.

      -1
    • 101

      Serbian and Croatian people did a genocide over Bosnian people, that’s not really a reason for having lame websites.

      -1
    • 102

      The person that designed these websites didn’t participate in the massacres you have just listed, this is a chance to learn from web designing faults and in my opinion just by mentioning those massacres in a comment box is a disgrace to the memory of the victims. this is about web design NOT politics.

      -1
    • 104

      I totally agree with Huw!
      This is an awful idea for an article, the author shows no sensitivity to the tragic and violent reality behind the face of ALL of the army marketing they’re commenting on here.

      -1
  52. 105

    I would like to see some interactive games where you can control a Predator over Afghanistan for example.

    -1
  53. 106

    amazing work. Thanks for that article.

    -1
  54. 107

    I have to say this article and its selections are kind of backwards. Some of the very same issues that the author says makes a website “bad” are repeated in the very same selections she calls “good”, which makes this whole thing a farce if you’re going to try to analyze these designs.

    Frankly, I also question the validity of a self-proclaimed web design professional who didn’t even bother to make a unique design for her own blog.

    -1
  55. 110

    Check out for the French Navy recruitment website : http://etremarin.fr

    -1
  56. 111

    I’m Argentinian, and i know better than most of you (probably) what happened in my country 40 years ago, but this has nothing to do with the post.
    Do not mess the post topic with politic or crap like that. This whole blog it’s about design and web design, not politic, not government.
    Try to focus on the topic please.

    Good article, bad comments

    -1
  57. 112

    Great work Cameron. People absolutely need to see and study poor web design. Ugly site showcases can be more helpful than beautiful site galleries. Pay close attention designers!

    -1
  58. 113

    Hey,
    Nice article, but I think the Canadian Forces website should have been mentioned in the good section:
    http://www.forces.ca/
    HTML: http://www.forces.ca/html/index.aspx?lang=en
    flash: http://www.forces.ca/flash.aspx#/flash/en
    HTML is simple/clean/sleek and very user friendly while the flash is fun and interactive… both user oriented…
    let me know what you think!
    thanks :)

    -1
  59. 114

    The Denmark and Finnish sites over the China one ? Odd …

    -1
  60. 115

    This is the bolivian army site: http://www.ejercito.mil.bo/ isn’t on the list (but should be) :D
    Greetings from Bolivia

    -1
  61. 116

    The US Air Force .com site is a little better showcase of design.

    http://www.airforce.com/

    One would think that with all the money the military pumps into commercials, their websites would look a little better. Limited budgets only go so far I suppose.

    -1
  62. 117

    Usually I’m a big supporter of Smashing Magazine, but in this case I must agree, what is the point of this article? Showing us poor web design… I could find plenty of poor web design on my own. Giving it a common theme of Military web sites doesn’t give it more of a point. There is nothing to learn from it here. Even the “good” sites aren’t very good.

    I’m guessing in most of these cases, the internet is not the primary way that these organizations communicate to recruits / members, so good design isn’t a priority for them. So they put their resources into other areas.

    It also seems like a rip off of that noupe article linked previously. Reading the comments on that article show it was unsuccessful, which makes me wonder why Smashing would even publish this article.

    0
    • 118

      You seem like someone who likes to be inspired. Here’s a link to the new Navy SEALs Website. I hope it fuels your imagination. It’s a hybrid site. Here’s how the bulk of it was done:
      – Slideshow made using SlideshowPro with Director hosting
      – Video editing done by one person inhouse
      – Site design done by one person inhouse
      – Photos of Navy SEALs done on a photo shot + from history archives. All photos are of Navy SEALs using the gear of their choice. Everything is authentic.
      – Content area created using Adobe Flash Catalyst Beta 2 to combine text and slideshows.
      – Modal box load on page load by Shadowbox.
      – Center entire site on page load code courtesy of a great supporter of the Navy over at Wikipedia.
      – Navigation design emulates “Smashing Magazine” see the article on “Speaking Block Navigation” at http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/02/26/navigation-menus-trends-and-examples/

      Enjoy, download + share photos and videos. View the source code for Shadowbox on page load code and the center any page on page load code.

      http://www.sealswcc.com

      -1
  63. 119

    And this is spain: http://www.policia.es/

    horrible¡¡¡¡

    -1
  64. 120

    Wow! And I thought the Canadian Government websites were bad, these are way worse. But still, Canada’s CLF 2.0 website design standard isn’t stellar.

    Nice roundup there!

    -1
  65. 121

    Interesting !
    You should have a look to the websites from France, I’m suprised there is none of them in this article :)

    http://www.defense.gouv.fr/
    http://www.defense.gouv.fr/terre/
    http://www.defense.gouv.fr/gendarmerie/
    http://www.impots.gouv.fr/portal/dgi/home?pageId=home&sfid=00

    And so on…

    But we also have nice websites of our politicians like http://nkm-blog.org/

    -1
  66. 122

    fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugly
    hahahahaha
    XD
    At least Peru guys’ve put a jet plane pic.

    -1
  67. 123

    Rather than a showcase, I think people would appreciate case studies a lot more. That is, select a handful of sites and then really analyze them. I think showcases such as this one should include conclusions/generalizations/trends in any case.

    I haven’t read through the entire article, but the sites from developed countries generally look more professional than the ones from developing countries. Call it bias or whatever, but it’s true. Also, the sites with target audiences who are mostly young, male, and tech-savvy (e.g. US Army, US Marine Corps, NSA) look more cutting-edge. Their audiences probably spend a lot of time on the Web, so these organizations really would have to invest in how their sites look/work.

    -1
  68. 124

    As a multimedia person who works for a government contract, I can really appreciate the fact that someone notices that things can get dated and that the envelope can be pushed more, while still feeling professional and well developed.

    Thank you. Would agree with poster *Tim* on more analysis/case study model.

    Again thank you!

    -1
  69. 125

    I think this is a nice showcase. You need to know that in most of the countries most of all in 3rd world countries in this showcase the internet is not for everyone, we have very important life and economics problems to stop and worry about the “looks” of a military web site design. Here the internet is very expensive to the home user and not many people is able to afford it, thats why the goverment among other things doesn´t think of a website or the internet as an efficient communication channel (at least in Argentina, where I´m from). Again nice showcase, this is the first time I see military web design of any kind.

    -1
  70. 126

    I can’t believe you included third world countries and/or countries that have undergone war/political upheaval etc in the past few years. Yea, good call, let’s mock those websites …..

    0
    • 127

      Yeah because it’s well known you need a lot of money to build a good website ^^

      -1
  71. 128

    Such a useless article.. seriously smashmag? If you don’t have anything to say exepting ‘ Hey look at that website it’s ugly’ just don’t say anything …

    -1
    • 129

      Indeed, this is useless and boring. I can’t believe that SM accepted such an article.

      -1
  72. 130

    What a waste of bandwidth, worst post I’ve seen on smashing – and I’ve been reading for a while

    -1
  73. 131

    They use photoshop as a weapon just to kill designs

    -1
  74. 132

    As the Chief of Web / Creative Director for the US Navy effort I would like to point out a few things that were left off the screen shot from the bottom of Navy.mil.

    1. Webby Award Honoree 2008 – industry leader peer review judged
    2. Thomas Jefferson Award 2008,2009,2010 (peer review award among the services)
    3. Two Davey Awards 2009- industry peer reivew
    4. Communicator Award 2010 – industry peer review

    So I think something is a little different that you present it. Other things that have been said about Navy.mil in the last few years.

    Brookings Institute – identified Navy.mil as a leader in using new ideas and concepts to communicate government information to its audience. They sited the “media port” as a great way to communicate and engage the end user – Sept 2007

    US Navy Social Media Directory: A Great Idea
    November 16th, 2009
    http://blogs.gartner.com/andrea_dimaio/2009/11/16/navy-social-media-directory-a-great-idea/

    Navy.mil rates an 82 – 84 for customer satisfaction via Foresee which places it behind only Social Security in the federal government and well above the industry average of 72.

    This entire effort is created and manned by a minimal staff that keep a content management system and interface going as well as the development and deployment for special efforts like:

    http://www.navy.mil/gwf

    http://www.navy.mil/midway

    http://www.navy.mil/moh

    http://www.navy.mil/ussny

    While Navy.mil is due to have some redesign done to it, after all it’s 3 years old, it still stands toe to toe with sites of similar content and reach. While the design to you might be stale because its been around for HALF of your total life experience in this field, it is still relevant and possess advanced human interaction design compared to most of the industry.

    In the end most of these efforts that you gun down are utilitarian in function and design. They are created to provide large amounts of information in clusters. Some of these designers are overworked, underfunded, undermanned and have to manage the expectations of stakeholders that range from the age of 15 to 65.

    The goal of government websites is not to entertain but to provide transparency and communicate critical information to its stakeholders, presenting the content in an engaging manner should be a critical goal but is not the core of what must be achieved to be a successful effort.

    In the end its all about access to information.

    Bill Spencer
    Chief of Web / Creative Director Navy.mil
    http://www.navy.mil
    http://www.popedeflash.com
    http://www.linkedin.com/in/popedeflash

    0
    • 133

      “In the end most of these efforts that you gun down are utilitarian in function and design. They are created to provide large amounts of information in clusters. Some of these designers are overworked, underfunded, undermanned and have to manage the expectations of stakeholders that range from the age of 15 to 65.”

      As a designer in a company contracted to produce DoD websites and graphic work, I concur. With the military and non-military (civilian) health information sites, what might be viewed as beautiful/stunning/impressive here (on Smashing Magazine and to me personally) is, quite honestly, viewed by our clients as Fisher Price-looking and immature. As the gentleman stated, it is about access to information. Bear in mind these websites are used by persons within a wide range of education and experience. It is much more important to reach all of the users – even the ones on dial-up using IE6, of which, unfortunately, there is a much higher ratio of users in this particular group.

      We also provide user support for military and civilian health education sites. In the early stages of working at my company, I was shocked that so many people didn’t understand what we take for granted as designers and developers. Working around the many issues of the inexperienced user, the iconoclast, and even the luddites who are all REQUIRED to get their CE via that military site you’ve created, was an education in itself.

      Sometimes, designers aren’t allowed the luxury of designing for the rich and sophisticated user who “gets it.” Instead of simple lists of bad design that the client will have no interest in anyway (save for Bill Spencer), how about a piece directed towards that particular type of client to demonstrate how much more effective their site would be at disseminating information if ‘this,’ ‘this,’ or ‘this’ was implemented? It would help the designer in the trenches trying desperately to educate an entity much bigger than he/she.

      Really. We’re exhausted over here.

      0
    • 134

      But it’s ugly!

      -1
  75. 135

    My opinion has already been covered by some of the other readers, but this isn’t an article at all… it’s a list post… one that’s quite opinionated.

    I enjoy Smashing and check out the other articles, but ones like these the periodically pop up shake my confidence in the site.

    There isn’t much though put into any one example… maybe this topic would be more interesting if just a handful of these examples were focused on a bit more thoughtfully?

    -1
  76. 136

    Wow…

    I can’t believe some people on here. This was a post on poor web design, not an endorsement of any political state.

    Also, if you hated the post so much, why bother reading through it?

    -1
  77. 137

    It is strange that author not writed about Estonian Defence websites.

    http://vk.kra.ee/ – Estonian Army Recruit Agency website – I think its very good work
    http://www.mod.gov.ee/ – Estonian Ministry of Defence

    But it is very good showcase.

    -1
  78. 138

    I am surprised how such content is being showcased at SM. It is a poorly written article and some of the “good” websites are shockingly poor. Instead of concentrating on how to improve a website, you are talking about “screaming 90s” etc. That really doesn’t make much sense to me. I have nothing to learn from it. Instead you should showcase a website and talk about how you can improve it etc.

    I wonder how so many found this article informative and fun. It is disheartening to see that so many users blindly follow the content being posted.

    -1
    • 139

      “Instead you should showcase a website and talk about how you can improve it etc.” – Thank you Alec. Well said. It’s very easy to just criticize.

      -1
    • 140

      I totally agree with you Alec. Instead of criticizing they can concentrate on how to improve a website.

      -1
    • 141

      You’re right, but she probably didn’t because she doesn’t know how to actually provide constructive criticism… much less how to improve these sites.

      As I noted above, the author claims to be a design professional, yet she uses a wordpress template for her blog…

      Maybe she’s afraid of having her own designs criticized….

      -1
  79. 142

    “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.”

    I cant believe it, these two first sentences made almost never read smashing magazine again. Has the author of this statement for one second really dared to look what is happening in the so calles “peace keeping opeartions” !?

    Please educate yourself and watch a few testimonials from veterans from the Iraq war for example.

    And pleas no more of these kind of posts on smashingmagazine.com anymore.

    Thank you.

    -1
    • 143

      “Please educate yourself and watch a few testimonials from veterans from the Iraq war for example.”

      Please educate yourself and not rely solely on anti-military propaganda.

      “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.”

      Sounds about right too me.

      Yes, I am a veteran.

      When you are a veteran maybe your opinion on these issue will have some value.

      Oh yeah, weak article SM, is the editor-in-chief on vacation?

      0
  80. 144

    You should add this site to the list of Argentina

    http://www.policiafederal.gov.ar/

    0
  81. 145

    Sometimes is important to take a look at ugly websites to learn what things we don’t have to do.
    Cameron, I like your article.

    0
  82. 146

    How often should a website’s design be updated then? Since all designs become outdated sooner or later.

    0
  83. 147

    Clearly these screenshots were made using Internet Explorer.

    0
  84. 148

    dated is not bad, hard to use is.

    0
  85. 149

    Defence Command Denmark is a good site? Really?!

    0
  86. 150

    I appreciate this article.

    A big part of being a good web designer is understanding what doesn’t work as well as what does.

    Thanks.

    0
  87. 151
    • 152

      Hooyah! :P Looks nice.
      But the page performance sucks, the navigation doesn’t match the rest of the design at all and is broken and there’s a horizontal scrollbar!?
      Why does the main focus seem to be a slideshow? That’s what SEALs are about?

      0
      • 153

        Thanks for the feedback. Here’s an explanation. Performance has taken a hit ever since we experimented with Flash Catalyst and 3D imagery. SEAL man was originally a 2D image. He was made 3D using After Effects. His load size is 2.5 megs. Eventually he’ll have to loose his animation. Right now it’s just an experiment to push the envelope using 3D imagery on the site.

        The navigation was inspired by Smashing Magazine and their article on the trend toward “Speaking Blocks” navigation.

        The site was designed for large monitors and small. Small monitors are found on military bases. Large monitors are used by the potential SEAL candidates we are interested in. What’s important to note is that all content falls within the range viewable on a 17″ monitor yet allows for great visual impact when viewed on a 22″ or larger monitor. Even more, the entire site centers itself on any browser. A very cool feature. Compliments of a very cool guy at Wikipedia.

        The site features a slideshow and videos for visual impact. SEALs prefer to remain, for lack of a better word, mysterious. Using slideshows and videos is how that mystery is revealed to the general public. This imagery resonates with high potential SEAL candidates. In order to come up with the right imagery for the site, we asked SEAL candidates [ students of the Naval Special Warfare Preparatory School ], SEAL officers and SEALs what they thought?

        Thanks again for your comments. They will help us on a go forward basis.

        http://sealswcc.com

        0
        • 154

          VERY interesting. Thanks for the link and the insight into the 3d aspect!

          0
        • 155

          This site puts up a good laugh and begs the question: Why would a spec-op club need a public recruitment website?

          The majority of the candidates for JSOC are invitation-only types. This site seems pointless even as the intention seems noble. The videos are training videos taken by the public affair crew, reflecting zero truth to the actual missions.

          And another thing: Any SEAL or D-boy would tell you, we got no time looking at websites. Besides, the most comprehensive infosys used by the DOD and JSOC are offline and isolated from the public. We’re just that practical and free of vanity.

          0
        • 156

          After looking into the SOF community, you would realize that they are NOT invite only. I’ve been following the SEALS and they are really trying to get more people recruited into BUD/S training. By giving out a glimpse of what the training is like, more candidates are becoming better prepared both mentally and physically. It also shows the type of training they do. Someone who has no idea what to expect might not want to try it out even though they could possibly be a better mentally prepared candidate. That in return decreases the washout rate and stops wasting money.

          Also the site is loaded with proper exercises as well as a workout guide to follow as well as ways to prevent injury. Sure no SEAL would need that site, but if you are looking into the program it gives you a hell of a lot more info than the navy site does.

          0
        • 157

          Jason,

          Your comments were very accurate and astute. The Naval Special Warfare Command Recruiting Directorate is charged with identifying high quality SEAL candidates, making them aware of Naval Special Warfare opportunities, and for those who are interested, assisting them through the accession process. The Website is a tool to help those who choose to use it.

          We’re glad you enjoyed the photos and videos. All photos and videos can be freely downloaded and shared. All photos and videos are hi-rez. Some of which are quite large. We left them this way because we wanted everyone to have them in their highest quality form. The hi-rez videos can be downloaded in the following formats:

          1. Quicktime
          2. Windows
          3. iPhone/mobile
          4. H.264/MPEG4

          We welcome you to check out the “Official U.S. Navy SEAL Training Forum.” A great place to meet others like yourself.

          LINK: http://sealswcc.com/forum/

          Hooyah!

          Naval Special Warfare Command Recruiting Directorate

          0
    • 158

      Flash sites are pointless

      0
  88. 159

    gosh that is really just the most ridiculous article I have read on Smashing Magazine. I hope it isn’t part of a series. I don’t think I could take the meaningless babble about whether the Estonian tax office website is 6 or 7 years out of date in its styling.

    Get a life.

    And as a general rule it is a bad idea to tell people who have a good supply of weapons that their websites suck.

    0
    • 160

      When did it become a general rule that some country that would probably never see this site (I mean seriously, if they were reading ANYTHING on this site they’d probably not have such a sub par website) can’t be mentioned on a list of bad website designs? A country isn’t going to launch and attack on a random person for saying their defense websites suck. Many of these countries with shitty websites seem to be ones that may not be able to afford or care about having something state-of-the art, which is why it sucks in the first place. Maybe if you said to them “A thousand dicks in your religion” would they care!

      0
  89. 161

    I found this kinda hilarious. Notice how many of the bad ones were Arabic? When I see crappy sites like this, it makes me want to give them at least a simple functional template for super cheap because I feel so sorry for them and their terrible taste/eye for design and functionality.

    0
    • 162

      Dude, are you an Arab-hater? What has being Arabic to do with this? There are 3 sites from Arabic countries that are ‘bad’… 3 out of 50 (or more)… so what are you trying to say?

      0
    • 164

      Here you go sweetcheeks. Open your mind and stop being so prejudice:

      arabiancss.com

      0
      • 165

        1. Don’t call me sweetcheeks.
        2. I’m not prejudice. It just seemed like many of the sites that were bad had some form of Middle Eastern language written on it it.

        0
  90. 166

    I’ve done business with the defense and intelligence sector. They area very conservative group.

    Don’t count on them to follow trends that are less than a year old.

    0
  91. 167

    And for the record, the Philippines Marine Corps. site is HILARIOUS! But really, I feel like more could’ve been said about these sites if there was going to be such a long list of bad ones. Many of them seem to be 3rd world or otherwise struggling countries.

    0
  92. 168

    To be completely honest with you, your site doesn’t look any more cutting-edge. Except maybe for the ad cluttering.

    0
  93. 169

    Whoever created this list never looked at the real United States Navy website, its http://www.navy.com/navy/. Navy.mil is for internal use only.

    0
  94. 170

    I found this interesting because where I work we win a large number of government and pseudo government work (including Defense & Military work). Most of the time we are very limited in what we can design both front and back end wise. It can a very controlled process too in that there are usually many stakeholders, standards and a large market demographic to consider and appease – 95% of the time the sites aren’t anything interesting to look, rather more about the ease of use and accessing content which in reality is first and foremost the most critical function.

    And before anyone comes on here stating a good designer would rise above this… the real deal is this sometimes our hands are tied (very tight) and we can’t do anything about it – when a large govt client has to adhere to strict guidelines, protocol and so forth then a lot of the design will unfortunately suffer in my experience. That’s no reflection on the developer/designer either – usually more to do with a lot of red tape.

    Keep up the good work SM.

    0
  95. 171

    Yeah let’s use a whole article to rip on 3rd world military websites. SM used to be cool… what happened?

    0
  96. 172

    What about IDF? http://www.idf.il ?

    0
  97. 173

    Ok, this was my last read from smashing magazine, I have removed your feed from my list. I felt the need to tell. Not only in the past 6 month or so, the articles quality went down. We then started to have opinion columns. I do not care about random unknown and wannabe authors opinion, I “want” objective, useful information, and inspiring topics that I can learn and grow from, and on top of that, I “want” this deliver in the most positive way, that is: show us good stuff.

    Obviously, something bad happened internaly at smashing magazine: Stop polluting the web, your task and effort should focus on improving on the web content, not the opposite.

    You failed

    0
    • 174

      hah polluting the web? go to pen island .com and tell me if you still think that smashing magazine is still polluting the web.

      0
  98. 175

    I know smashingmagazine having hard times about financial problems. But this is not an excuse for such crap articles. Look at the articles that you have posted in the last month. Not one of them worth reading.

    0
  99. 176

    nice article, but I don’t agree with the mention that a boring (military) site is a bad thing, bad design yes, but honestly – the more boring the page of my country’s military is, the happier I am

    0
    • 177

      Yes, definitely. The more boring and bad designed these kind of websites are, the better.
      You SM didn’t have to public such an article! You have just blessed these sites with more audience for a while. They didn’t deserve it. You gave them visibility while they definitely should not be visible, maybe not exist.
      If we’re artists, and I think we are, we all should believe in peace and fight for it. No weapons, no war.

      0
  100. 178
  101. 179

    Girl from Belgrade

    June 24, 2010 2:13 am

    We all know how the government gets design jobs, and yes, if the aesthetics is not important here, then we turn to user interface. It should be clean and simple, informative and functional.

    /Btw, people working for the government aren’t known for their good taste or creativity, right?/

    Nevertheless, the subject is very personal, and one can’t be totally objective, because people always need a sense od belonging. The best example is, of course, our country. We were born and raised in one typicall society and culture, and therefore, this subject raises temper.

    If we get past this, we can be objective. If we don’t, we are subjective.

    Either way, we all love our countries. There is no place like home.

    0
    • 180

      I think you are as naive as the author to assume that we all love our own countries.
      We should be striving for freedom of movement and equality for all!

      1
  102. 181

    The Israeli Aerospace Industry (they construct and develop airborne military systems) website is much better than everything in this showcase
    http://www.iai.co.il/22031-EN/homepage.aspx

    0
  103. 182

    You obviously missed this one. This is well worth a look. do the virtual 3D tour of the HMAS ANZAC. This awesome site was developer by Visual Jazz. http://navylifestyle.defencejobs.gov.au/main.asp

    0
  104. 184

    Im a webdesigner at Portuguese Navy and this post is VERY usefull to me and all webdesigner whom want to learn the goods and the bads of military webdesign.

    Thx Smashingmagazine,

    Carlos Almeida

    0
  105. 185

    Thanks for the article.

    As a professional web designer, you were right to critique the sites in this way. This is especially true for sites such as these that we would not normally come across and so we can be as objective as possible.

    I for one found the dating of the designs very interesting – I’ll make sure I don’t make my sites too narrow or buttons too glossy. Easy traps to fall into, even in 2010!

    As for the political comments that followed, this is not the place for them. Thanks to all those that posted positively, I enjoyed your suggested links too.

    0
  106. 186

    One of both: Or Intelligence or Military.

    0
  107. 187

    Canada forgotten again! http://www.forces.ca

    0
  108. 188

    this writer is one of the worst, and naif i aver seen. this is not the first time i read article so poor and completely arbitrary.

    0
  109. 189

    This design is just fine, other than being a bit boring. And the text could be slightly enlarged for easier reading. — True, but they would have to eat more paper when printed.

    0
  110. 190

    that`s funny

    0
  111. 191

    Thank you all for reminding me why I never read the comment section.

    0
  112. 192

    In France : http://etremarin.fr/ the promotionnal website to enter in “French navy”

    0
  113. 193

    check this out.

    Royal Malaysian Armed Forces
    http://maf.mod.gov.my/eng/index.html

    0
  114. 194

    Hi, Good article, but they have their own work ,Army’s duty is not to create a aesthetically nice website , but to protect the Country.they can least bother about the site, I know that you all designers are very good, but why don’t you offer a free re-design to them ?( at least for your country’s website) , instead of commenting on their website ?

    0
    • 195

      I doubt the soldiers dabble in web design between operations, I am sure they put the job out to tender or employ an in-house team. I also doubt they would just let anyone do a free re-design. I expect they would actually welcome feedback on their sites. Who wouldn’t want to improve their site (no matter how exhausted they are)?

      0
  115. 196

    Wow!
    Interesting(::)

    0
  116. 197

    I am surprised to see Indian website in Hindi besides it’s ugly look. Cause ‘Hindi’ is not national language. Well, if not, why not entirely in english?

    Hypocrites!

    I am Indian, btw.

    -1
    • 198

      The principal official language of the Republic of India is Hindi…

      0
    • 199

      Mr. Vinod –
      Dude. You haven’t even checked the site and have started pointing fingers. The website is in English Language , only the logo is in Hindi. Better act like an Indian.

      0
  117. 200

    I wonder what will happen when we realize that all nations are tied together financially and warfare and military spending both cease to exist. What could be done for those trillions of dollars? Oh, and the funding for all these web sites?

    0
  118. 201
  119. 202

    I think this is a great listing. Maybe you haters forget that there are many designers that create these sites for governements, plus there are tons of websites that are created that the public cannot see. I work for the US Gov on a classified web app and I find posts concerning gov sites very interesting. It’s one of the great ways we can see how behind governments are with their technology, and what the trends are on new sites. Thanks for the post Cameron!

    0
  120. 203

    Could you make a similar post for government websites? I’d like to read your opinion, for example, to the EU portal (odd), to the page d’accueil de Palace du Champs Elysées (plagiat) or to the Deutscher Bundestag (pimped-up dust).

    0
  121. 204

    Never commented here before, here goes.

    I didn’t find that much useful here, basically because the article was saying “Look at these, they’re rubbish.” I didn’t need to see the huge amount of sites either. Oh and what is the point of saying a colour scheme is outdated when they are the national colours of that country and its their flag in the design?

    There were way too many examples of the ‘bad designs’, towards the end of them its got to the level of saying things like “there’s nothing really wrong with this but nothing stands out”. Something better would have been to take a few examples and give more of a workshop article, saying what is wrong, whether its code or graphics, and how they could fix things, maybe with a mockup redesign showing examples.

    0
  122. 205

    I agree with ajprice. The topic itself is so very polarising that a more objective point of view might have been the better solution to ‘amuse’ the Smashing readers. Rather that saying “this is so nineties” (very personal opinion) it would be interesting to find out why different websites look of different age. Many countries in the world are still only starting to use the internet for communication. I am not just talking about the “third world” countries, but even Australia – compared to countries like the UK or maybe the USA – are a good few years behind with regards to web design and internet usage in general. So it might have been a good way to point these things out rather than sitting up on the high horse to laugh about people who are sitting with 486 series PCs… (I know, I am exaggerating)

    Another interesting point of view would have been to compare the different designs under the aspect of how military service is regulated in these different countries. The German Bundeswehr site looks a bit boring yes, but this is probably because there is a compulsory military service where theoretically every lad older than 17 will have to join. There is a constant stream of thousands of recruits every year, so many that they actually don’t know what to do with all of them… However, a British army site will try to be much more visual and mindblowingly (…) fantastic to attract young people – especially if on a weekly basis British soldiers get sent back from Afghanistan or Iraq in boxes, which is not the best publicity… It would be very interesting to see this sort of things and to try to understand why certain website look the way they are. You cannot really compare a French/American/Canadian website to the web attempt of some communist regime.

    However, this article at least made me look at websites I have never ever been interested in and I now know they exist. This is a good point. But as described above, I think every now and then articles like this should be written from a different point of view, to break out of the “I am a designer and this looks crap” mentality because, to be honest, people who would usually look at these sites, don’t care about the design – for them it just has to “work”.

    Keep the articles coming, Smashing Magazine, and try some new ways – some interesting unbiased stuff – it would be great.

    0
  123. 206

    I’d like to see showcase of some music web sites!

    0
  124. 207
  125. 208

    Nice article, love it…

    0
  126. 209

    I like the article, and of course it’s been making something move around.
    The thing is, Military is the one with more money and resources than any other organization around the world, and we all know (as developers) that making a great website doesn’t need a lot more than making a poor one. You just need the right people to do the right job, they obviously picked the wrong people.

    0
  127. 210

    Personally I dont think most of them are that worse. And at the end of the day they should represent information (in a readable manner). But as military web sites , who cares about being it Web 2.0. Its will be OK for a web designing firm

    and if a web site is ugly (as per the author) there should be a clear measurements how to say ugly. There should be a defined set of rules and then should match them with each of these sites.

    0
  128. 211

    What a ridiculous article. Who wants to see a collection of poorly designed websites?

    0
  129. 212

    There is something I don’t like about this article but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Wait I can. The voice and the reasons for categories. I don’t like it and I am sticking with it. Having said all that IT IS THE FRIGGAN ARMY. They are not working towards your cuteness vote!

    0
  130. 213

    you missed this..maybe should go on the top of the list : http://www.mmc.gov.eg/ ..thanks for @abdozdotcom

    0
  131. 214

    I don’t think there is a single decent design on the list, not even in the ‘good’ category. A few edge into acceptable, but that’s it.

    I don’t care whether a site uses the latest design trend or one that’s ten years old. What matters is whether is clean and easy to use, with decent focus and a clear path through the site. These sites don’t have that, for the most part. The basic design is bad for almost all, and that’s nothing to do with trends.

    I agree that this article is a waste of time. If you want to look at badly-designed sites, just google any term at all and look through the results.

    The article would have value if it really analysed why the sites didn’t work, but it doesn’t. It’s just a list, with nothing behind it. I thought Smashing Mag had gone beyond this.

    0
  132. 215

    You should take a look at the Canadian Army recruitement website…. yes we do have an army! ;-)

    http://www.forces.ca

    0
  133. 216

    ‘British Royal Air Force’???? No no no no, it’s just ‘Royal Air Force’. No other air force has the same name and the RAF was the first one!!

    0
  134. 217

    Talking about the ugliest: http://www.ima.edu.co/

    0
  135. 218

    on the other hand, the new airforce website of the Netherlands;
    http://www.luchtmachtbase-x.nl

    Beautiful :)

    0
  136. 219

    Some dutch examples which are pretty good:

    Landmacht
    http://www.werkenbijdelandmacht.nl

    Defensie (Ministery of Defence)
    http://www.defensie.nl/landmacht

    Marine
    http://www.werkenbijdemarine.nl

    0
  137. 220

    That would be really funny if any of this websites had an online support button or something like “special offer! 20% off, order now! :)

    0
  138. 221
  139. 222

    I believe that why don’t budding or successful designers of every nation write petitions to the govt. and volunteer to make beautiful websites rather than just commenting that this is not good and that is not good..? Its our nation and its our duty to improve the site if its not up to the mark. Serving ones nation is not only limited to the field of war or is it?

    0
    • 223

      The problem is that you cant just volunteer to work on a govt site. They have their own way of going about and finding developers/designers; and their way sucks.

      0
  140. 224

    To me, military is the highest form of bad taste in any way. I’m not surprised their websites are ugly too.

    0
  141. 225

    didn’t like the article. the “good” designs look like the thousands of free templates you get for open source cms, and the poor ones look the same, just with a buggy stylesheet. nothing creative here….

    0
  142. 226

    Most of these sites are asp.net based. Who uses asp anymore? Get with the times and technology. Most asp.net sites I see are pretty ugly and are still using old tech.

    0
  143. 227

    have you seen guatemala Defense website? http://www.mindef.mil.gt/

    0
  144. 228

    IMO abw.gov.pl looks great! Just take a look..

    0
  145. 229

    hmmmmmmmmm how about indonesian army?

    0
  146. 230

    Did you know the French website for the french marine? http://www.etremarin.fr
    I like it! But it’s not for your ugly showcase…

    0
  147. 231

    This is the case with govt websites of many many countries. Even e-governance portals are pathetic as far design and usability go.
    This article shows what not to do to keep the design current.
    So, great job, thanks.
    I hope none of these armed forces come looking for you ;-)

    0
  148. 232

    Thanks for showing the good and the bad. One can only learn from poor design. I find it interesting (and positive) that SM obviously pays a lot of attention to the comments to this article by Cameron after the last article which did hurt SM really bad.
    So again: thank you for this great and FREE content!

    -1
  149. 233

    Is it required to have an afro to join the Royal Bahama Defense. Lol

    0
  150. 234

    http://www.forces.ca/en/home/

    This is a nice site from Canada.

    0
  151. 235

    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.

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