Web Sites with Bad Design

Web Sites with a bad UI. They are not hard to find. But what I find hard to fathom, is large companies and organizations which green light projects that produce such fodder? Where is the disconnect? I once worked for an interactive web design company, and we would sit in these meetings and this is what happens: 10 people providing input into what “they” would like to see on the “new” website. No central voice, except that all were allowed to participate and contribute.

What happens is the website loses all workflow and navigation sensibility. Why? Because you have decisions made by committee. By people who have no background in web design and UI design. This seems to be more prevalent the larger the organization, but can also happen on a smaller scale, when decision makers fancy themselves and the masses for that matter, as intuitive web designers.

One of the areas where you would think that creativity would reign supreme but does not, is on college campuses. Why? In a lot of  academic settings, each department may be autonomous of each other and thus have an idea how their departments “look and feel” should be articulated online. Trust me it, it doesn’t work. What you get is 20 departments with 20 different looks. All sites should flow, they should have the same layout so that students and parents and prospective students know exactly where to look for critical information.

Which leads me to the bigger picture. At all large corporations and small as well. You need to have a plan. But the plan needs to work in the context of a) does it meet and serve the needs of the visitor and b) does it meet and server the needs of the search engines and c) is it visually effective.

Unfortunately, form over function sometimes wins out and thus what you get is, sites that are not so hot.

Let’s critique a few really quick, shall we?

Harvard I’m a little shocked by the lack of interest this landing page conveys. It’s almost arrogant in nature. The thought being, “We’re Harvard, so having a cool website is not a priority. So Much for PR.

Oxford  Not bad.  At least it’s a little more inviting to visitors than Harvards. It still has a stuffy academic “We are Oxford” feel to it.

Coke Might have been cool but the load was slow, but interactive and engaging, maybe a little too busy, but then again it’s a brand that really has to speak to a lot of different demographics, so it’s understandable. But still slow and confusing.

Pepsi  Absolutely love this. Very fast load (because its PHP?) The UI is broken into segments immediately, it’s hip and engaging and Clearly they understand who is hitting their site. Mad props to the folks at Pepsi. they get it. They understand their brand and their users and how to get them where they need to go.

McDonalds I’m surprised at the corporate nature of this. given the amount of urban advertising and the tremendous push for fresh and new, I’m not feeling this from the landing page.  They have one little drop down called,”havin fun”… NOT!

Burger King Not Bad, but the initial landing page is a map and you have to choose your country. I get that for an internationaly branded product but.. After selecting the proper country there are some nifty flash pages but overall I would think it needs to play up current themes versus current specials??? Who’s your audience?

Los Angeles  The city of Los Angeles, I know, whenever you venture into the public sector, especially government sites, expect the worst. so I wasn’t surprised by what I saw.  As citizens, you expect to muddle your way through any type of state or local government site. I wish they(the sites) were better, but they are because they are.

NYC I actually liked the NYC site. It was laid out a bit better than the LA site; and it also has a feel for who might be hitting the site. The LA site was like their freeways. Confusing. The NYC site actually understands it’s sites visitors better and what they need and want. Kudos to the Big Apple.

I’m curious as to what others might feel about this and would not mind seeing some examples of good and bad sites. I know some orgs. know they have a bad site and others are just clueless, maybe we can help them? Let me know.