Best of the worst Khoi Vinh 25 May 2005

22 comments Latest by GO77

“What’s the worst Web application you’ve ever seen?” Doug Hughes cites the Virginia State Corporation Commission’s public Web site, and recounts an experience that’s both epically bad and perversely entertaining.

22 comments so far (Jump to latest)

James 25 May 05

It’s clearly a web interface for an old green screen mainframe application (probably accomplished through screen scraping). Without that knowledge it does seem quite insane.

Darrel 25 May 05

This list could get long. One I ‘fondly’ rember was my Great Lakes Student loan site. They had a database system that you could log into to check the status of everything. BUT…you could only use their web application during THEIR business hours. Ie, after 5, you couldn’t log into the site.

More recently, our organization decided to go with Netilla to allow us to log-in to our intranet remotely. It’s a java app. It doesn’t work on a Mac. Or Firefox. Their excuse was ‘well, those things use a ‘special’ kind of java that we don’t support;.

Of course, what they meant was ‘we built our application out of Java but, like idiots, we went with the MS-version of Java…thereby invalidating any benefit of choosing Java in the first place’.

Anyways, like James said, this is a web wrapper around a terminal application of some sort. Which, one could argue, is better than NO access to this application.

Jeni 25 May 05

Even with the knowledge that it’s a mainframe app, it’s still seems insane. With the effort that it would take to scrape a terminal, you could put together a web app that did the same thing.

Of course, it is a government application. No one said that government was smart.

Darrel 25 May 05

No one said that government was smart.

Or properly funded.

Working at a .gov, I don’t see a huge difference between it and the large .coms I’ve worked with…both tend to have a habit of buying overpriced, underfeatured, buggy, outdated boxed software from vendors. The big difference is that the .coms have a pile more money to pump into IT, whereas the .govs tend to have to ‘make do’.

Don Schenck 25 May 05

I wrote a browser-based app for the service department at one of my clients.

It’s horrible beyond words.

I’m in the process of rewriting it … Spolsky be damned! *grin*

Matt Haughey 25 May 05

Anyone here have a student loan with the US dept of ed? Personally I think the entire process of paying your student loans online using that .gov site is the worst application I’ve been forced to use.

The application linked here appears to be a web-to-telnet gateway. I swear I’ve used similar apps several years back, before they were converted to normal web apps.

Dan Boland 25 May 05

LOL… I had to use Blackboard too! What a piece of shit that thing is, I had forgotten all about it.

Rob 25 May 05

The app is most likely running on a Legacy system (AS400) with Lansa. That is a really bad app. But then again, can one expect the a local government site to be well designed and implemented?

Darrel 25 May 05

Definatly going to go with Blackboard.

To add to that, I’ve found many (most?) commercial CMS products to be akin to that. Just got back from 3-days of Sharepoint training. I have a feeling that app will be on my list soon, too… ;o)

can one expect the a local government site to be well designed and implemented?

They should expect that. Just as they should expect that from any organization that is attempting to put their business online. Probably not ideal for this thread, but I’d love to see a topic started on good .gov sites. I admit they are far and few between—though the same is true in the private sector as well…

Sara 25 May 05

I have to use Blackboard too, and it’s horrible. But my university’s registration and records web app still tops it on the crappyness scale, with probably the worst usability I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

Lee 25 May 05

Interwoven Teamsite. It has a bad, incomprrehensible interface with lots of manual steps to update content. Most people I know who use it create their whole page in Dreamweaver, then paste it into the Interwoven form.

Craig Beck 25 May 05

Blackboard is the worst POS web application I’ve ever come across. Worse yet, we’re actually forced to use it by instructors. It seems that people didn’t want to use it beacuse it’s so bad, and the IT depty had to justify all the money spent on it.

Meanwhile, the students could put together something better and more appropriate for the school. Who’d a thunk?

pb 25 May 05

Salesforce is pretty bad. The Open Source SugarCRM is an improvement although copies some of Salesforce’s bad-ness.

Levi 25 May 05

“Interwoven Teamsite”

Arrgh! Yes!

I work in a company where we maintain 100+ websites with Teamsite and it is about as big a piece of crap as they come. The interface and workflow — where not broken — just doesn’t work.

Pretty much with any Interwoven product you can sure that it will feature either incoprehensible usability design or a host of broken features.

twp 25 May 05

One word … LiveLink

Anusha Perera 27 May 05

Probably not ideal for this thread, but I�d love to see a topic started on good .gov sites.

This is the Library of Congress online shop. This I believe is a true example of well designed, functional, user-friendly and accessible gov site.

James 27 May 05

OT…but still….can I get some advice on what language(s) to learn in order to write web apps? I’ve been working with html for years (not as a full-time job), but don’t know squat about where to go/what to learn from here. I have a co-worker that knows Perl pretty well and could help me, but other than that I’m stuck. Thanks!

Jake 29 May 05

[ot] James, wrong place to ask, but I’ll answer anyway. ;) PHP is fast, simple and readily available on many, many servers. I recommend going to for tutorials. Also, their forums are incredibly helpful. Hope that helps! :-D

Hey, I like blackboard!

j/k :-P