Today at work, I was CC’d on an email for an upcoming project involving some work with some company or other. Someone on their side had a bunch of “technical” questions that didn’t make a lot of sense to me. I don’t doubt that they were relevant questions, but they seemed to be in another language. It reminded me of a time long ago at an old job when I sometimes had to work with pharmaceutical companies who were in regulated environments. They used words and phrases in a way that meant something very specific. If you weren’t in the industry, you wouldn’t understand, and they would use that against you. You wouldn’t get to work with them unless you spoke their language.
So that I could try and understand this company, I visited their website. They are a multi-national finance company, and as such, you can imagine they are the least Internet-savvy company ever. They may actually be the least marketing-savvy company ever. But, I remember these days. I remember when sites like this were normal.
Back in those days, the metric for a good site was how much information you could get online. Well, that is still the metric, sort of, but today, that information is the customer-useful type, like inventory, pricing, technical manuals, warranty status, you know, exposing your internal data to the world. But, when you don’t have that type of data, like if you’re a bank and not a retailer or manufacturer, you still want your site to look huge. What do you do? You fill it with bullshit – lots and lots of bullshit. And this site delivered.
I was amazed at the volume of verbiage on the site and how vapid it all was. It was more than I could enumerate myself, with links going all over the place and a navigation menu so large, it had its own close button. I downloaded a website copier and set it to work on their site. It found 95 pages! And that was just on their home domain. They had a couple of other subdomains, too. One was 65 pages and the other was a WordPress site, so the site downloader downloaded author pages, archive pages, individual pages, etc, so the pagecount was unusable. Still, being a webmaster for 150 pages of content has to be a nightmare.
And all of these pages said nothing. And some pages said even less than that because they were grammatically incorrect. Maybe I can give a pass on that because the site is multi-lingual. Anyway, my original reason for going to the website was to find out what they do. On one of the four (FOUR!) pages of the About Us section, one of the paragraphs reads:
The goal we have proposed is that in each of the many contacts we have with our stakeholders a differential experience to provide sustainable value is conveyed. So we have established our vision as a company and some guiding principles defining our commitment towards those stakeholders.
That is what the entire site is like. What kind of zombie composes page after page of meaningless, worthless garbage? Well, a long time ago in another job, that might have been me. Not likely, though. That old company got some decent contracts, but not big enough to write hundreds of pages of dreck.
I also remember when I could think and write in that nebulous language. My early websites for my own consulting work may have been like that, trying to make my one-man shop sound like a large company (it didn’t work). But everyone’s grown up now. Being a lone consultant doesn’t have a stigma and businesses can be proud to be whatever size they are. But some companies still seem to be stuck in the past.