Wednesday, October 25, 2006

In Praise of Simple Web Sites

One of my personal little pet peeves - web sites that use more technology than they need to, and as a result are less useful to visitors than they ought to be.

You see them all the time; yesterday I came across a particularly egregious example of wasting money on a cool technology that makes a site frustrating for visitors: T-Mobile's new minisite for their combination mobile/wifi phone service.

The service is a very cool idea; you use a mobile handset that, when it's near a wifi hotspot, starts routing your calls via voice over IP instead of the mobile network. This takes traffic off of the mobile network - so you save money (you're not using up your minutes) and mobile carriers have less trouble with congestion. It provides better coverage by reaching hard-to-service areas (like the inside of your house) through wifi rather than the normal mobile network.

It's no surprise that T-Mobile is the first US carrier to offer it; they've got an extensive network of hotspots to leverage (one in nearly every Starbucks!) and they are European-owned (Europe is way ahead of us on offering new mobile services like this).

So I clicked over to the site to find out more about it - and was confronted with a nightmare.

I wanted to read about the service. You can't do that on this site. You can watch a lot of little movies in which someone talks to you about the service.

At first I thought there was just an introductory video, which is fine; I tried to skip it to get to the real information. No luck; every link opens another movie.

It's kind of cool, and it no doubt represents a bit investment in content creation when compared to having a copywriter create content for all the pages... and it's frustrating. I don't want to watch a commercial. I want to know how it works, what it costs, what hotspots I can use, and that sort of thing.

I'm sure the marketing team behind this site is quite proud of it. Too bad it undermines the business objective: getting people to use the new service.  

1 comment:

Cahill said...

Right on!

I get so tired of sites where they're so enamoured of tech and coding prowess they forget the basics - information.

In my meetings with customers on their site designs, I frequently am asked about what kind of great new tech I can bring to their site. Ajax, Ruby, Flex, etc. come up on a fairly frequent basis.

Perhaps I'm old fashioned, but I prefer to define the need for the site first, then apply the appropriate technologies.

Last year it was Google Maps implementations, this year, it's Ajax. None of it matters if you site doesn't make it easy to find the information that brought the user in in the first place. Even worse, I've been asked to rework serveral sites that had been "teched" into google obscurity. Flash navigation that Google can't read is a bad, bad thing.