I thought I’d seen some bad web sites.

Many are rubbish because so little (thought/expertise/money) has been invested in them. But one I saw last weekend wins hands down by trying much too hard.

Friends were coming over and it was sunny so we thought we’d go for lunch at a riverside gastro pub called The Anglers. So I reached for my phone to look at its web site, check the menu and book a table.

I Googled the pub with no problem. But its web site simply wouldn’t open on my phone. It said I’d need to download Adobe Flash Player 8. I tried but found Flash Player isn’t compatible with my Windows phone.

I tried the site on my wife’s phone – same problem.

iPad: no luck either.

So I tried a PC. (Of course, it would have been easier to have booked somewhere else by now, but I was intrigued and on a mission.)

Of all types of business, it’s madness for an impulse-purchase leisure venue like a pub/restaurant not to be easily accessible via mobile devices. If we hadn’t been at home, we wouldn’t have had the option of trying a PC.

This time the web site did open – but my efforts were rewarded by a dire user experience.

First, you get an almost blank page that invites you to ‘enter’ the site. I thought I already had. Why put up an immediate unnecessary barrier and make people to click twice to get started?

When you ‘enter’, it opens up a completely new copy of your browser (not just a new window) – in an awkward size that I had to click again to maximise to view clearly.

It takes a few seconds to ‘load.’ Then you have to watch a cheesy animation of parrots and fishermen.

That done, something resembling a web site finally appears – although with a ‘fancy’ design that’s cluttered, hard to read and, with no conventional toolbar, even harder to navigate.

 

Clicking on half of its sections, when you find them, opens up not further web pages but PDFs (which my PC makes me click yet again to confirm that I really want to see them). From these – most bizarrely of all – there’s no way of getting back to the main site. You have to find it again, ‘re-enter’ and re-load – irritating parrot cartoon and all.

There’s a gallery of photos of the pub (at least I’m guessing that’s what they are) which you need a magnifying glass to see.

Worst of all are the site’s bells and whistles – quite literally: when you move your mouse over each section, you’re plagued by tacky dings, toots and bird tweets.

All in all, it’s the worst web site I’ve seen for years.

What’s the lesson?

Keep web sites simple. Make them as easy as possible to use: don’t be so arrogant as to assume visitors will work hard and invest time to get hold of your information. I only persisted because I was so intrigued by its awfulness.

Fundamentally, create your web site with your customers in mind, not as an excuse to muck  aroud with the latest web tools and cram in as many gizmos as possible.

 

What’s the worst web site you’ve come across? 

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