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Why do advertising agencies websites suck so bad?
#1
I know the text is a little long and sort of a rant, but please bear with me as I need to explain some background information first...
I work at a very small advertising agency in Brazil. It´s just the owner and me here, he is a very nice guy and a great designer too. We are redesigning our website and that´s where my problems begin...
I have a graphic design background, but I am also making websites for a while now. It was quite a transition for me to learn all the different tools, rules, good practices and so on, but now I can hold my own. My boss, however, is completely clueless about the web. He uses InDesign and cmyk colors to try and make some layouts, but obviously that doesn´t get him anywhere.
Anyway, I made some wireframes of what I thought the site should be. I used a grid, sorted all the information, wrote some copy, defined goals and priorities. The result was pretty nice and very functional. He hated it.
He wants no scroll, no content on the homepage, wants to break the site into 10+ pages with only 1-2 paragraphs each. The site would be pretty much a gigantic menu. I told him why this was wrong, why it´s better to use fewer pages, why it´s nice to have something relevant on the homepage, why it´s ok to scroll, and so on.
He then showed me some websites he used for inspiration. All major advertising agencies, both Brazilian and international, like gray, olgivy, and some others that I don´t remember now. As it turns out, not only most of these websites do what I told him not to, but some of them do even worse (like resizing my browser, launching the site on a new window use annoying music).
Now, getting to the title of this post, WTF is going on here?? Why do these companies have such awful websites? Don´t they have designers there too? How am I supposed to convince someone that we should care about accessibility, standards, content quality and easy navigation when the biggest companies in the business can get away with cryptic navigation, unfindable content, browser hijacking and some plain broken websites?? Or maybe I´m wrong, and all that talking about usability is just nonsense and we should all just go back to flash websites...
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#2
This has been a question for me too, Google Adsense has an OK one and some other ones too, but BidVertiser's website just looks awful.
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#3
I guess with a subject such as this it comes down to personal taste a lot of the time but then your employer has to think "Does our customer base have the same taste as me?" because at the end of the day it doesn't matter if he thinks his design is amazing if the customers think it's terrible! So having a feedback/how can we improve floating overlay on the site is a really good way to get customers to tell you how you can improve the site.

Now getting onto the matter of how to encourage your employer that his idea is crap, a) without offending him, and b) without getting the sack or something. I would ask to hold a meeting with him and have a couple of flip charts titled "My Ideas" and "My bosses ideas" with some pros and cons about why each idea would or would not be good for business. Then I would show him some web sites that are million miles ahead of the rest! Here are some sites I would show him if I were in your shoes:

1. Big Cartel

Big Cartel is company that has built a web platform for their customers to build online 'shops' or eCommerce sites. Big Cartel are a faily large company, who creates a very simple, but yet compelling experience by opening with a attractive headline, a video, and basically, not much else. The simple and intuitive navigation and nice examples of sites created on their online platform serves as supporting content that tells the rest of their story.

2. Minimums

Minimums has adopted a quite unique, bold approach to the way they deliver their content, demonstrating a grid style website design, big and bold typography and large, high quality HD images. Their site serves as possibly the best example I've seen of how to properly deliver a grid structure while still maintaining a lovely visual hierarchy within their design.

3. JOHOS's Bean

JOHO's Bean website has incredible HD imagery with interactivity and story telling which completely immersive. They use a unique visual design, but one of the most amazing aspects is the sound engineering. These all come together to create an extremely compelling, and yet, emotional, and engaging design that puts forward the story of a little old coffee bean's journey!

I would have thought that after showing your employer these designs he will know that he will have to step up and accept that the web is moving forward from old style, outdated designs and navigation.

Some of the techniques used in the websites I have demonstrated for you are very complex and require a very good designer and coder, but then it doesn't need to be that way, Minimums for example could be done by a not-so-advanced web designer using fairly simple and easy-to-learn techniques.

Need some inspiration?

Try this site, it has 66 creative grid based designs that should inspire you and your boss!
And Outpost who are also an advertising agency!
And to get inspiration from the best of the best I suggest you and your boss should have a look through the Awwwards website, but I will say that sometimes it makes me feel ashamed that I'm not that good (well not yet anyway lol).

I hope I've helped you and would be happy to help with any further advice (I have worked as a freelance 'Workplace Innovation Demonstrator' in previous years) so please don't hesitate to ask me anything.
If you fancy buying me a beer you can tip me with bitcoin ;p :

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