How Not To Launch A Website – A Live Example

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How Not To Launch A Website – A Live Example

I know my tutorials usually tell you what you should do, but this tutorial is going to tell you what not to do with a real live example.

Your website represents the face of your business and is often the first impression people will have. It is critical that you deliver an exceptional user experience or you may risk doing lasting damage to your brand.

This morning I was browsing the web looking for a new mobile and broadband supplier. I remembered a recent advertising campaign by Everything Everywhere that offer both mobile & broadband under one roof, perfect! Or so I thought.

This tutorial will show you exactly how not to launch a website and allow you to learn from other peoples 7 figure mistakes.

Click Here to Read the Transcript

Update: Additional Information

One of my readers John Nre brought up the site was now fixed and suggested I had recorded the video a couple of weeks ago before the site was done.

So I wanted to clarify the exact timeline of events-

5th November – I first noticed the issues with the Everything Everywhere website
6th November – I placed my order with PlusNet instead
8th November – I formatted my computer so now running a clean install of Windows & Firefox
10th November – Find out PlusNet have lied to me
10th November – Everything Everywhere website still in the same state it was 6 days earlier.

The clips that you see of the site in the video were recorded between the hours of 14:03 and 14:26 on Saturday the 10th of November.

Here is a screenshot of my project folder-

I’m fairly sure the nationwide advertising campaign started on the 30th of October.

The issues highlighted in the video were quick fixed to an extent on the morning of the 12th November.

All of the issues I found but didn’t highlight in the video are still present. I’m going to let those ones play out though, I’ve done my bit and saved them millions already!

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Today we are going to learn how not to launch a website.

Why is it important to do it correctly? Well your website is face of your brand or business and you want to be represented in the best way possible.

Each time someone visits your site, you can either hook them in or lose them forever so you have just one chance to make a good impression.

Some common reasons for poor website delivery:

  1. Website is launched before it is ready
  2. Failing to reach target audience
  3. Failing to satisfy the users needs

Successful websites are up 24/7 and they make relationships with their visitors through social shares, email subscribers, sales or just sharing it with their friends.

Everything Everywhere Website Analysis

Let’s use Everything Everywhere, a new mobile phone carrier in the UK that just launched. They advertise 4g and a fibre broadband service which is perfect for me. I just finished my contract and am looking for a new one so I’m the perfect customer for them.

Like everyone else, I search for them in Google and there’s their website in both adwords and organic results. Let’s look at their organic one.

everything everywhere websiteorganic

Say hello to the most advanced digital communications company in Britain… well this certainly sounds like the company for me!

Let’s take a peek at their video.

eeyt

As the most digitally advanced company in Britain, I’d think they should be using their own hosting for videos. Am I being too picky? Maybe but they should be able to serve their own content than using Youtube.

Let’s look around and see what else they got on here… I clicked on Fiber Broadband under EE Broadband and this shows up.

ee bad request

Will you believe that? I clicked on Fibre Broadband and it led me to this page.  Let’s get out of here and go back to where we were.

orange

Wait orange? Why am I on Orange? I’m supposed to be on the EE website.

Now it seems I’m on the completely wrong company website. Looks like even the most advanced digital communications company in Britain can’t make a website or even keep the user on their own site!

Okay let’s just start from the beginning. Click on Store since I do want to buy fibre broadband.

shop

This looks strangely familiar…

Fine let’s try explore. That’s always a good start to see if I can find what I’m looking for.

shop

I feel like I’m going around in circles!

So I think it’s safe to say that Everything Everywhere might not be the most advanced digital communications company in Britain and I’m definitely not going to buy fibre broadband from them.

Now remember we clicked the organic result. Let’s try again and click on the adwords results and see what we get.

adwordsee

Well this looks more promising. Since this is from the Adword result, they’ll be paying for each click and controlling the landing page.

It takes about 6 seconds for this site to fully load and I’m a bit lost on where to go. As you scroll down the home page, things pop up but there’s no menu or scroll bar.

I’m not new to the Internet or websites but even for me I’m a bit confused, so I’m sure people who aren’t comfortable with navigation on websites will be even more lost!

So once again let’s click on Fibre Broadband and see what comes up.

fiber broadband

After I clicked Fibre Broadband 3 times, this is what I get. Finally! There’s actual information on this page, no broken URLs, I’m not on some other company’s website, there’s real information here.

So let’s click on Broadband checker to see if I can get fibre broadband from them.

broadband checker

I’m expecting to put in my post code or address somewhere but I don’t see anything yet. I just see a bunch of options for choosing a package. Well that wasn’t helpful so let’s go to Explore.

Well clicking on Fibre in the Explore options actually did nothing, it didn’t take me anywhere. Okay let’s check Coverage Checker, that’s actually what I want. Nope, that doesn’t do anything either.

Maybe I need a new mouse?

Let’s click Fibre Broadband under Store. Nope, again does nothing. Maybe clicking on Enter Shop will be the golden ticket? Nope, that was a complete and utter fail.

Well that’s just strange and what a bad experience.  I’m just going to go back a page and see if I can get any leads from there.

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As I scroll down it says you can combine fibre broadband with your mobile phone which is perfect, my contract is up and I want fiber. Excellent!

Hmm so where to get it… let’s click on About Broadband and see what I get.

about broadband

Great so I have all this information about broadband but I need to know if I’m eligible first. Let’s click on the price and speed checker.

speed and price checker

Here we go again. It takes me back to the page I was just on.

See what I’m getting at here? I spent half an hour on this website trying to figure out how much it’ll cost me to have fibre broadband with my phone but it was next to impossible.

Anything I click on on the top doesn’t work, you can’t order fibre broadband online you can only call them and some of their pages don’t even take you to their own company website.

Ridiculous!

The Competitor Analysis

Let’s check out the competitor’s website to the most digitally advanced communications company in Britan. Google Plusnet and click on their page.

plusnet

Straight away you can see fibre broadband & phone option and if you click on that, it brings you to a page with all of the options nicely displayed.

plusnet options

All the packages and details are there and you can see if they have availability right in the middle there. All you need to do is enter a phone number and postal code.

check availability

It makes you wonder. Why can’t the most advanced digital company do that if their competitor can?

Another Annoyance

As you browse around the Everything Everywhere website, you get this pop up asking for your feedback. It’s a survey and they want you to take part in it which I find highly meddlesome and just annoying.

survey

If you try to say No Thanks, you can click as many times as you want but it won’t disappear! However, if you click Take Part, another pop up appears and you get taken to the survey so you essentially get roped into agreeing to the survey just to make the box go away.

The Importance of a Good Website

There were so many things wrong with the EE website that left permanent damage on their reputation for me personally.

  • Failed to meet the customers’ needs
  • The website isn’t clear and doesn’t provide answers
  • User experience is terrible
  • There was no previous testing before the site was launched

Any sort of advertisement or notice of Everything Everywhere will be ignored by me forever. You would think a company as big as them would at least have a good website!

Trust me, I’ll be telling my friends about them in the pub later!

The best part?

This company has spent 4 million pounds on national advertising which is being played all throughout the UK, online and on the television.

Can you believe that? They’re spending that amount of money only to have potential customers come to their site and find out it doesn’t even work!

So what’s the lesson learned here? Budget isn’t the most important thing, making sure you create a phenomenal user experience is. Your website is the face of your company and that’s your one chance to build a relationship with the visitor so don’t blow it!

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35 Responses

  1. 11.10.2012

    Very enlightening! But not surprising at all. There are still a lot of people out there in big and small companies that still don't get it!

    2 problems I see here.

    1. A dodgy web development team more interested in bells and whistles than getting a functional site working.

    2. Why aren't the marketing team checking the website before it goes live. Are they really leaving that presentation of their business to the outside world to the web guys?

    Shocking!

    • November 11th, 2012 at 10:16 am

      Nope big companies just do not get it, I've plenty of first hand experience in that area.

      1. Yes I agree design > function at the cost of the user

      2. I can't see how it hasn't gone through a testing/sign off phase personally

      Crazy world – I bet they paid at least £150,000 for that as well

  2. Anonymous
    11.10.2012

    I agree about the EE UI being a disaster…But unless the video explains more than the transcript, I don't see how your post qualifies as a tutorial. It doesn't explain 'how not to' or 'how to'. If the video does explain better than the transcript you are as guilty as EE or doing a poor job of muddling a visitor. In fact that is the case anyway as given what I have read, I feel mislead into coming here to read the post.

    • November 11th, 2012 at 12:59 am

      Did we read the same headline, it say "How not to launch a website" and didn't he show us how not to launch a website, with bad navigation, not working links, only way to get the product is calling etc. etc.

    • November 11th, 2012 at 10:19 am

      I think you may have missed the bit that says 'REST OF TRANSCRIPTION COMING SOON' only the start and end of it is there at the moment, waiting for the middle bit from my team. But yes I see how with that bit missing it doesn't explain much at all =D

      You need to watch the video for the middle bit though as its quite visual.

      Do you mind me asking why you read the transcript instead?

      Kim, I think he missed all that bit, no worrys though =D

  3. 11.11.2012

    Good tips.
    I know most of the companies do these kind of big mistake.

    • November 11th, 2012 at 10:21 am

      You wouldn't believe some of the mistakes big corporates make – such as rolling out sitewide noindex tags, letting domains expire, letting ssl certificates expire – all by people that get paid more money than sense.

  4. Jack Brutschin
    11.11.2012

    I really cannot believe that this is the reality!

    • November 12th, 2012 at 11:15 am

      I could have done a better job with nothing more than my forehead and a keyboard ^^

    • November 12th, 2012 at 12:59 pm

      Unfortunately when teams get too big it gets easier for things to fall through the cracks. Unless you have processes or people in place to check things like this its easily done. And things expiring is a common problem especially if the guy that set them up has left and moved on to another job maybe! Shouldnt happen but it does, too often!

      • December 31st, 2012 at 1:57 pm

        Hi,

        That is very true indeed, even the basics of renewing domains and SSL certificates used to fall through the gaps.

        Explaining that to a major client was always fun….

  5. 11.12.2012

    Good stuff Matt and pretty typical of what I see with too many business websites. They have the resources but the execution often sucks.

    • November 12th, 2012 at 4:08 pm

      Very true indeed – thats precisely why I stopped banging my head against the wall of the corporate world and took the jump.

      A better landing page would have being 'GET FIBRE NOW' in big letters, a picture of a t*** and a buy now button.

      Can you imagine what can actually be achieved with budgets like that in that right hands?

  6. John Nre
    11.12.2012

    In all fairness… their site was not done then…. Try to visit it now and see :)

    When did you upload/create the video? 1-2 weeks ago?

    • November 12th, 2012 at 4:04 pm

      I first noticed the state of the site on Monday 5th November which is why I placed my order with PlusNet on the 6th November. When I found out PlusNet had lied to me on Saturday the 10th of November I revisited Everything Everywhere and was shocked to see the site still in that state so I had some lunch and then got to work on the video.

      The actual issues of the site were recorded between the hours of 14:03 and 14:26 on the 10th of November. You can see a screenshot of my project folder and associated times/dates here http://i.imgur.com/UzP3t.png

      AND as a final nail in the coffin, I upgraded my PC and reinstalled from scratch on the afternoon of the 8th (after first noticing the issues, but before revisiting) so was running a fresh install of Windows/Firefox and it STILL had all of those problems.

      I didn't include any of that in the video though :)

      I see they have now put in quick/dirty fixes for some of the issues – although there are a fair few I didn't include in the video that persist.

    • November 13th, 2012 at 9:26 am

      Hi John, updated the post to address your questions directly and remove any wiggle room

    • John Nre
      November 13th, 2012 at 1:59 pm

      Cool… Sent you a PM on BHW btw. Awaiting your reply!

  7. You know, while this may be amazing to some in the industry, it's seemingly becoming more and more common in the marketplace.

    In our neck of the woods, the City of Vancouver was recently (August 2012) critiqued about spending upwards of $3M on their website and what in fact was received in return should it be of interest…
    http://www.vancitybuzz.com/2012/08/3-million-for-city-of-vancouver-website/

    It's interesting to see who is awarded these contracts as well as discovering any pre-established ties or relationships. The code on release looked like… well… sub-standard to put it politely.

    Great vid, Matt!

    • November 12th, 2012 at 12:53 pm

      If you been in software development for any amount of time, you know its easy to blow 3 million in hardware and development time pretty quickly. Especially if you have little or no experienced project management or technical skills in that area to do QA.

      If you dont have the experience to check what your vendor is selling you, its cheaper to hire another company to do it for you…. otherwise you wont get what you pay for!

    • November 13th, 2012 at 9:03 am

      Jesus, $3 million for that? At least their website works though and doesn't repeatedly highlight their incompetence.

      Colin, I know exactly how that goes with my background. I always thought it was hilarious just how much money big corporates would spend on websites which left an awful lot to be desired to say the very least.

    • November 13th, 2012 at 1:06 pm

      Matt, on launch, problems were analogous to those experienced by EE. In fact, the site was inaccessible for periods, found to be quite slow, and routinely demonstrated broken functionality on initial public release.

      Colin Williams, we've worked with ERP implementations of varying shapes and sizes over the years. And while I can appreciate how to some Fortune 500/1000 IT companies, $3M can quickly and easily evaporate thanks to one or two badly-made or misplaced decisions when we're talking about CUSTOM development projects, a quick perusal of the source code reveals a reliance on the RedDot CMS framework (windows based content management application – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RedDot – acquired by OpenText in 2006 – http://www.opentext.com/2/global/products/products-all/reddot-landing.htm – rebranded in 2009 – http://www.cmswire.com/cms/web-cms/farewell-reddot-viva-open-text-web-solutions-003961.php).

      All for using compatible frameworks and RAD solutions when and where applicable. And, yes, some can get quite pricey. However, the framework and (dys)functionality coupled with the release quirks made the associated price tag somewhat less than credible, IMHO. Point of contention for several in the local design and development industry, and a great source of discussions for a couple of weeks here.

      Thanks for sharing your views on both… insightful.

    • November 13th, 2012 at 1:25 pm

      A big team could easily gobble up that money fast. Still think a better approach to development is to have a really small team of skilled developers that really know whatever platform they are working on backwards and inside out. Yes they may cost you a lot more per person, but because they know exactly how to get the best out of the platform to provide the solution and will generally be more experienced you get a lot more for less in the end :-)

    • November 13th, 2012 at 2:52 pm

      Colin Williams – "… a better approach to development is to have a really small team of skilled developers that really know whatever platform they are working on backwards and inside out."

      BINGO! Lean, mean & agile. ;)

  8. 11.12.2012

    I know it wasn't funny for you wasting 30mins trying to buy from these clowns, but your vid is hilarious!

    • November 13th, 2012 at 8:59 am

      I bet the person in charge of the project doesn't think so. Ahh well, learn2website!

  9. Andy Killworth
    11.13.2012

    I love how there's like 600 lines of code before you get to the content :)

    • November 15th, 2012 at 5:30 pm

      I dont think that is quite as problematic as it used to be but still, 600 is certainly beyond what I would consider acceptable by a long way

  10. hydride
    3.19.2013

    You just reminded me the value of 1 customer by your brief statement there Matthew. Thanks!

    • March 19th, 2013 at 9:24 am

      Something that big company’s often forget – what do you think I’ve said to anyone thinking about getting a new phone/broadband in the past 4 months ^^

  11. 7.30.2013

    Having worked in corporate telcos and also met similar startups with a pre-injected corporate culture this is exactly what I would expect sadly, and why I also enjoy the control and speed of small business nowadays.

  12. 8.1.2014

    LOL. You got me dying Mat. I was laughing off my chair.

    What a piece of c***. You are definitely right they probably pushed this piece of s##t website because of deadlines.

    F$*k the corporate world. I’ve never going back.

  13. 8.10.2014

    Just a heads up that when playing the video on an iPad (don’t know if that makes any difference or not), theres a box which I assume is for something like subtitles but it is just filled with random characters, which also blocks off part of the video.

    • August 12th, 2014 at 8:01 pm

      Sorry about that, does that happen with every video or just this post?

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