40 Epic Design Fails Guaranteed to Make You Cringe and Laugh

Everyone has their off days, even designers. These fails are on another level.
Saoirse Kerrigan
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You never truly appreciate good design until you're faced with some truly awful examples. Occasionally, you'll come across a product or poster that so utterly fails in what it set out to do, that you're amazed it was created in the first place. In true Internet fashion, there are whole subreddits devoted to collecting some of the worst examples of design ever seen in the wild. Buckle up, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

1. It Does What?!: Hiring a Proofreader is a Must

If you're creating a poster campaign, especially one that represents an entire city, you really, really need to invest in a good proofreader. Otherwise, you'll end up like Kansas City, who ended up giving their visitors the absolute wrong idea.

Kansas City really lets tourists have a good time from r/funny

2. Poor Placement: Planning Placement Carefully is Essential

Oh dear. If you're investing in advertisements to be placed on a vehicle, please consider the design of the vehicle in question. It will help you avoid slightly awkward images like these.

This guy must be feeling pretty great on this ad from r/CrappyDesign

3. Moving Eyes: Keeping Things Aligned

Speaking of poor placement, maybe don't have the model's eyes positioned on moveable windows. Or do, if this was the look you were going for. It's like her eyes follow you wherever you go...

I followed this bus for 4 blocks to wait for it to pull over to share this beautiful work of art. from r/CrappyDesign

4. Material Matters: Choosing the Right Materials For a Project

There are so many materials at a designer's disposal, all of which are suited to certain needs. You'd think that the most pressing concern for a bathroom cubicle door would be privacy, but this designer had other ideas. They decided to break boundaries and install some tasteful frosted glass doors. It wasn't a risk that paid off.

Class stalls in bathroom. .... from r/CrappyDesign

5. Fun With Fonts: Getting Your Message Mixed Up

It's always great if you can incorporate your logo into your name somehow, but don't force it. For example, this fitness center is really giving mixed messages with their font selection. Something tells us that nobody wants to visit a gym that proclaims you'll be fat forever.

An unfortunate logo for a fitness center from r/CrappyDesign

6. Perfect Positioning: Keeping Things Clear and Legible

When designing and building road signs, make sure you're keeping the correct side clear. Otherwise, you'll end up with some confusing directions for motorists. Let's hope people only presented their tickets.

I'd better get that ticket before it's too late from r/CrappyDesign

7. Define "Free": Understanding the Words You Use

Using eye-catching buzzwords like "free" is a great way to get more people interested in your product. Keep in mind, though, if you're advertising something as free - it better be free. A dollar for a coffee is definitely a good deal, but it sure isn't free.

"You're gonna pay for that free coffee, aren't you?" from r/CrappyDesign

8. Woeful Watermarks: Checking Stock Images Thoroughly

This mural could have been truly charming, had the designer not made the crucial error of painting in the Shutterstock watermark. Maybe they thought including the watermark would prevent the wall from receiving a copyright claim. We may never know for sure.

Love to shutterstock see this kind of stuff from r/CrappyDesign

9. Tissue Trouble: Putting Spider-Man in an Awkward Position

When designing a product, or the packaging for that product, you really need to envision how it will look at the end. Obviously, that's not what this designer did. So the end result is an awkward encounter with your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Sorry, Spidey.

Spiderman’s Web Kleenex from r/CrappyDesign

10. Terrible Tiles: Hoping It's Not What It Looks Like

There are certain patterns and colors you should absolutely avoid when designing a bathroom. Muddy brown splotches are at the very top of that list. Pretty sure this terrible decor would have plenty of people recoiling in horror.

These restoom tiles from r/CrappyDesign

11. Wait, What?: Failing to Communicate

If you stare at this one too long, it will start to break your brain. What exactly is this designer trying to say? That they're not happy until everyone is unhappy? That's really the only reading that makes any sense, which is unfortunate. 

This monstrosity from r/CrappyDesign

12. Terrible Tshirts: Spacing and Layout Is Everything

You've probably seen plenty of shirts like these targeted at you by Facebook's algorithm. While many of them seem to cram random facets of your personality together, this one seems to cram random words together. It will take you a full five minutes to figure out what this shirt is trying to say, and by that time the person wearing it will be thoroughly uncomfortable. 

No Has Bo Me Ever? from r/CrappyDesign

13. World Cup Fails: Presenting One of the Worst Fonts Ever

This year's World Cup has given us a lot of incredible and memorable moments. One thing that's gotten fans talking online, surprisingly, is this ridiculous font. The font has become something of a meme, thanks to its near-illegibility. Designers beware, this is how you turn something relatively simple into an epic fail.

14. Buyers Beware: Choosing Colors Is Important

It's hard to know who's to blame here - the designer, or the person who chose the color of the shirt when purchasing it online. Either way, somebody should have foreseen that the black text would not be visible against the black background. Now you're just that guy who wears a shirt saying "Racism" for no reason.

Final product not as advertised. from r/CrappyDesign

15. Confusing Rides: Making a Mockery of Spider-Man

Spider-Man just can't catch a break when it comes to bad design. There's so much going on with this weird ride. The visible panty line. The handles coming out of his head. The fact that kids are meant to ride on his back, for some weird reason. You're not likely to see any of these things in the MCU any time soon.

This Spiderman children's ride has a visible panty line. from r/CrappyDesign

16. Frightening Displays: Keeping Your Message Clear

If the first three letters of your company are D-I-E, maybe don't cut the name in half for an advertising campaign. Just a word of advice. Otherwise, you're going to freak a lot of passersby out. 

I only saw the left window at first and got very confused. from r/CrappyDesign

17. Going Down: Trying to Figure Out How This Works

You'd think designing a display for numbers would be easy, right? How hard can it be? Just place them in order. Unless you're the designer who created this nightmare elevator, which appears to have no logic behind the placement of the numbers. Good luck getting to the floor you want.

This elevator. from r/CrappyDesign

18. Enjoy Your Trip: Falling Down Is Inevitable

Believe it or not, that's a flight of stairs. Can you see where each stair ends? No? Neither can we. Not only is this design bad, but it's also potentially super dangerous. 

Not a good carpet choice for stairs if you ask me from r/CrappyDesign

19. Suspicious Punctuation: Understanding When to Use Quotations

Usually, when we use quotations marks, it's to indicate something that was said or to imply that something isn't as it seems. Either way, the use of quotation marks on this ad seems inappropriate. What do they mean by "safe"? Best steer clear, just in case.

The quotation marks on this sign gives it a malevolent undertone... from r/CrappyDesign

20. Feeling Handsy: Playing Around With Anatomy

This design fail is so subtle, you'd almost miss it. But look closely and you'll see the issue. Unless, of course, the man pictured really does have a third, blurry hand. In which case we apologize for any offense caused.

This University's President is really hands on from r/CrappyDesign

21. Nightmare Fuel: Aligning For the Worst Possible Result

Here's something that will haunt your dreams for nights to come. This looks like the kind of advertisement they'd run in some kind of shadowy hell dimension. Which is great if that's the kind of look the designer was going for. But we can't help but feel like it wasn't.

T̶A̶S̷T̵E̷ ̸T̷H̸E̴ ̸F̶E̶E̵L̶I̶N̸G̶ from r/CrappyDesign

22. Confusing Doors: Asking If You're a Donkey or a Llama

You know what they say, men are like donkeys, women are like llamas. Wait, they don't say that? Huh, you're right. In that case, these bathroom doors make absolutely no sense. Can you figure out why they went with these seemingly random animal designs?

Men’s and Women’s bathroom from r/CrappyDesign

23. Disturbing Messages: Revealing A Sinister Side 

Designers, again, if you're placing a design or text on a vehicle make sure you know how the features of the vehicle will affect your design. Otherwise, you end up with some pretty creepy messages, when you really just wanted to encourage people to practice their skills. 

This Habitat for Humanity van. from r/CrappyDesign

24. Heating Up: Burning Through Bad Design Choices

There's a reason water bottles are shaped the way they are, as opposed to being spheres. Sadly, this designer didn't stop to think about that reason. So now people at the World Cup have spherical plastic bottles who magnify sunlight into themselves, causing them to spontaneously combust. At least there's already water to put out the fire.

This football shaped bottle by a mineral water company ahead of Football Worldcup Russia 2018 that turns into spherical magnifying glass and gets on fire when in sun for more than a minute. from r/CrappyDesign

25. Halloween Hack: Sucking Blood or Selling Homes?

We see what you tried to do, designer. Sadly, placing a black diamond behind your subject didn't so much draw the eye to his face, but make him look like he's wearing a Dracula cape. It definitely looks pretty cool, and there's no doubt that some people would love to buy property from a vampire, but it's probably not the look you were going for.

I pass this billboard everyday and everyday I think he’s a vampire from r/CrappyDesign

26. Dry With Caution: Choosing Heat-Resistant Materials Is Important

There are a few basic tasks that hairdryers need to perform. For starters, as the name suggests, they need to be able to dry hair. But they also need to stay structurally intact in the process. If your hairdryer starts to melt when it's on, then that's just straight-up bad design.

This hair dryer melts its own casing. from r/CrappyDesign

27. Bad Advice: Cutting Off Text At The Worst Place

We get it, sometimes you need to cut ads and messages in order to fit the areas where they're being posted. Sadly, this can sometimes result in some really unfortunate messages. Just take a look at the bad advice that Disney is accidentally giving its visitors. 

Nice place to cut off the sign Disney from r/CrappyDesign

28. Railings Within Railings: Creating the Inception of Stairs

This seems really unnecessary, and also mind-bogglingly weird. Why are the stairs wider than the landing? What kind of lunatic designed this stairwell? What does it all mean?! 

These double stairs from r/CrappyDesign

29. Very Unhelpful: Needing a Tool to Get Your Tool

Truly this is one of life's most painful ironies. You need a screwdriver, but you can't access the screwdriver without a screwdriver. Whoever designed this packaging is truly heartless.

A screwdriver that requires a screwdriver to open it. from r/CrappyDesign

30. See the Sea: Picking the Right Colors Is Easy

It's really not that hard to make an effective world map. When it comes to coloring in the countries, you can pick any color you want as long as it isn't blue. Apparently, these instructions were too hard for the designer of this particular map, and now certain places on Earth are submerged under the ocean.

This map colored some countries with the same blue as the ocean from r/CrappyDesign

31. Instructions Unclear: Figuring Out What You Want to Say

Look, we get it. Playing around with typography can be super creative and fun. But remember that the most important thing is that your message is still clear. Otherwise, you end up with a design like this. Can you figure out what it's trying to say?

I can't even figure out what they're trying to say from r/CrappyDesign

32. Frog Legs: Stretching Your Legs

You could argue that this isn't a design fail.

After all, the text clearly explains that the concept behind the campaign was giving something extra.

That said, there's still something very uncomfortable-looking about those froggy legs. To the model in this image, if your legs really are this long and frog-like, we apologize for any offense. 

This guy's frog legs featured in an ad from r/CrappyDesign

33. Up and Down: Skipping Forward Or Hiring Up

This is a common example of poor design, and one that drives a lot of people crazy. Surely it makes more sense for up and down to be the volume controls, and for the side buttons to be for skipping? Apparently, designers play by different rules than the rest of us.

I can not tell you how many times I skipped a track when all I wanted to do was turn the volume up. from r/CrappyDesign

34. Accidental Quotes: Praising the Brave Ming

Layout can mean everything when it comes to design. It makes the difference between "Stop Global Warming" and some guy named Ming saying "Stop Global War". Never underestimate the importance of a good layout.

There is a global war? Who is Ming? from r/CrappyDesign

35. Leaky Bowls: Keeping Your Food Safe...Kinda

Who wants a boring old salad, when you could have a lively salad that falls out of your bowl all over the table? Whoever designed this bowl was an evil genius. At least it's just salad and not something more dangerous, like soup.

This bowl my friend's dinner came in from r/CrappyDesign

36. Soggy Trunk: Funnelling Water Into Your Car

Sure, designing a car's bodywork to have multiple curves and visual movement can look great, but it's important to understand how those aesthetic features will translate into the finished design. Otherwise, you end up with a stylish trunk lid that causes the trunk to flood whenever it rains. No amount of style can make up for a water-logged trunk.

This car collects water on the trunk lid and dumps it all into the trunk when opened from r/CrappyDesign

37. Mixed Messages: Communicating Clearly Is Necessary

Think about all the steps it took for us to get to this point. Someone had to write that sign. Someone else had to print it out. Someone had to climb up a ladder and screw the sign into its holder. And none of those people stopped and thought, "Wait a second...what the hell is that supposed to mean?"

Makes sense from r/CrappyDesign

38. Double Hard: Making Sure You Make Sense

Understanding how certain layouts draw our eyes in different directions is a fundamental part of design. Sadly, this designer didn't grasp the fundamentals. They were probably too busy working hard and playing hard.

In case you didn't know! from r/CrappyDesign

39. Step Aside: Keeping the Middle Clear

What is the point of this staircase? Are you supposed to sit in the middle? Was there a land dispute between both sides of the stairwell? Is the middle neutral territory? Only the designer can know for sure.

Wasting a third of the staircase from r/CrappyDesign

40. Cold and Colder: Understanding How Temperatures Work

There are only two temperatures - cold and colder. That's according to the designer of this fridge, at least. But be warned, "cold" actually means "warm". If you want the fridge to be cold, you'll want to press the button that says "colder". Yeah, we don't get it either.