Big Ad Agency Websites Continue to Get Worse

February 12, 2009

big ad agencies and bad websites

I'm used to being mystified by the poor quality of Ad Agency websites. Always quick to try and be trendier than the rest, most miss the actual point of a website - to engage and educate your audience. This misconception leads most agencies to have all Flash sites that are nearly impossible to navigate; it's a constant topic of discussion in web designer and developer circles.

I thought as agencies moved more into the new media age and obtained a better grasp of online marketing that their sites would also improve. However, today I discovered that two large, respected agencies recently launched new sites that are as bad as any out there, keeping the trend of terrible agency websites alive.

Exhibit A: Forsman & Bodenfors from Sweden. A flash based site with non-sensical navigation and nerve-racking noises. This "search-centric" (which seems to be all the rage nowadays) site hardly has any intelligible navigation and dares visitors to just continue clicking around until they find information relevant to them.

The details about the firm are buried in the colored tiles and are virtually indistinguishable from the links to work samples. Should you somehow stumble into one of the interior pages, it doesn't get much better. There's a flash scroll bar, which instantly locks onto your cursor, causing the page to bounce up and down until you realize what has happened.

The site flashes real-time statistics at the bottom, allowing for the visitor to get a sense of dynamism. However, these stats paint a crystal clear picture of how impossible the site is to navigate; the two most commonly searched terms are "clients" and "about." Visitors shouldn't have to labor to find out important information about your'd think an ad agency would understand that.

The Flash hinders the experience and optimization of the site, the navigation "structure" makes it nearly impossible to investigate the agency, and the overall experience is ruined through annoying noises and scrolling.

Exhibit B: North Carolina's own McKinney. Formerly, McKinney had a decent site; it wasn't super easy to navigate, but it was rather straightforward and allowed you easy access to their best work and firm details. What made them change to the new site is lost on me.

Similar to F&B, McKinney's site is a flash based, search-centric site. They changed the model some by adding a 3-D effect as you cruise through topics and questions. However, this hinders the experience even further, as you're typically "moving" too fast to click on your desired topic and there doesn't seem to be an intuitive way to go backwards.

The amount of Flash on the site, causes it to move in a slow and choppy manner, even on good machines with quality Internet connections. Once you get into interior pages, there is a Flash effect as you go from page to page, which also slows down the site and hinders the overall experience.

Once a visitor gets into the interior structure of the site, the navigation is not bad and it's pretty intuitive to get around. However, the constant Flash effects still make it cumbersome and annoying to navigate; not exactly the words you want visitors to associate with your site. It's disappointing to see a firm that does such great work miss the mark by so far with their own site.

Overall, both firms show a pretty fundamental misunderstanding of the Web. By burying information and loading up on Flash, both sites make it annoying for visitors to interact with the site and hard for search engines to index content.

Would you be caught investing your online marketing dollars with these firms? What are some other terrible agency sites out there that demonstrate big agencies still need to adjust to the timesand better understand the Internet?


ezra abrams's avatar
ezra abrams
However, it isn't just ad agencys - websites are getting a lot worse, quickly
one big problem is product lists - say you have plastic tubes, which vary by color, internal diameter and length
the user friendly thing is a table, sorted by ID
instead, we find pictures for *each* stock item - 1 foot long by 1/4 ID, 2 foot long by 1/4
it is insane
PS it is really childish, but has a lot on this, also
I bet you could put together a really nice report that puts together all the webpages on bad webpage design
ad agencies do have bad websites's avatar
ad agencies do have bad websites
Thanks for the article. I have one request from the Internet: #666666 on #FFFFFF (gray font like this, on a white background is NOT cool. I can hardly see it. Black on white is real nice.

Hmmm-kay? (Office Space, TPS reports style).

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