Monday, October 16, 2006

Why award-winning websites are so awful

Who are we designing websites for anyway? ...

Practical and functional websites rarely win prizes for design but they do win sales and make profits.

Recently, I did a masterclass on web sales with about 50 Danish web managers. I gave them a list of issues and asked them to choose the most important ones for them. The top 5 issues for these managers were: Increase sales, Customer-focused, Usability, Completing the sale, Serving customers better.

Then I asked them to look at the list again, and this time choose the issues that were of least importance to them. These were: Credit card fraud, More use of Flash, Award-winning website, Wow factor, More animation.

The Danes (and other Scandinavians) are probably the most sophisticated web practitioners I have had the pleasure to deal with. When I deal with countries that are at the bottom of the curve when it comes to web adoption and ecommerce expertise, award-winning websites driven by Flash and wow factors tend to be top of the agenda.

"I no longer enter my agency's layouts in the contests by the art director's societies, for fear that one of them might be disgraced by an award," David Ogilvy wrote in his 1963 seminal book, Confessions of an Advertising Man. This legend of advertising stated that "I wage war on art-directoritis, the disease which reduces advertising campaigns to impotence."

Inspired by David Ogilvy's wisdom, I decided to visit Ogilvy.com. There I was presented by another quote from the great man: "You aren't advertising to a standing army, you are advertising to a moving parade." And right underneath that quote, Ogilvy.com is boasting about how it has just won 13 awards.

In fact, rarely have I come across a more vain, conceited homepage. In about 110 words, the name Ogilvy (or Ogilvy & Mather) is used over 20 times. Other phrases include "our work" and "what we do"."    (Continued via Gerry McGovern)    [Usability Resources]

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