Example 1: San Francisco Loft Makeover
#1 - Bad Context - Of course the 'before' looks worse! You have clearly just moved in and there are boxes and a ladder in the photo. Move your shit out of the way then we'll talk.
#2 - Dishonest Photography - If you look at the two photos above, one thing should jump out at you: the way the photo is framed. In the 'before' you can see unsightly sprinkler lines, possibly to intentionally add to the bad factor. In the 'after' the photographer has framed the photo so that the sprinkler lines are concealed and you see more of the gleaming hardwoods and snazzy foyer rug
#3 - Pitiful Before - The 'Before and After' set-up implies that the 'before' is terrible and the after is so dramatic the reader can hardly believe it's the same space/item. This is not really a good 'before.' The only thing wrong with the space is that it's undecorated and not the color the new tenant wanted. Ooh, a paint job. How thrilling.
FAIL. But it could be worse...
Example 2: Wendy's Home Exterior Makeover
#1 - Bad Context - Again we have the aggressively ugly 'before' image. There's the trash barrels and yard debris, plus the whole winter bleakness going on. The 'after' is conveniently shot in the lush spring where greenery is everywhere and the lighting is better. This would be like showing you my new haircut with the 'after' me fresh from the salon and wearing a cute outfit, then showing you the 'before' me un-showered, in my pj's after a 4 day bout with the flu.
#2 - Dishonest Photography - This photography is so misleading it makes the loft photos look innocent by comparison. These are taken from such disparate angles I don't really know how to compare the 'before' to the 'after.' As I mentioned before, the whole point of the 'Before and After' is the almost too good to be true aspect of the reveal. But in this case I question it being the same house. There is no continuity from one photo to the next to illustrate what changed or what remained.
#3 - Pitiful Before - With this example, #3 doesn't apply. The before was in terrible shape, but the photos are so bad you don't get the full effect. This series could have had the wow factor. Actually it does, but only as in "wow, that's bad."
Moral of the story, step up Design*Sponge. Don't let just anything on your awesome, awesome site.
*It's more fun if you say it in the soup nazi voice.