Another annoying agency Web site

Saatchi1_3Ad-agency Web sites, in our experience, usually favor groovy-looking graphics over easily navigable interfaces. Case in point: the Web site for Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide, which at times seems so lost in its own conceptual haze that getting to actual info about the agency becomes a long, frustrating slog. We discovered the site last week in an attempt to link to the press release about the shop’s new GUM unit. That was the first transgression—not having the release posted. (Type "GUM" into the search box, and all you get is, "Sorry.") OK, many sites fail the press-release test, but fewer of them appear to hold the user captive, in this case by using up about 20 seconds to let the words "Saatchi & Saatchi" and "Ideas & Ideas" rotate over & over. Only after visiting the site several times did we realize that you can get past this page by clicking on it. Even sites with a built-in fan base, like this one, have a “Skip intro” button. But let’s say you’ve stuck with the site so far. What happens next? If you click on "Select high-speed," you are sent to a page that states, "Ideas can come from anywhere," and then asks you to click on floating icons, which are tagged with locations (one is pictured here) like "bathroom," "lounge" and "café," with no mention of how doing so might lead you to, for instance, the client roster or who is on the executive team. (No, we’re not at your site to use the bathroom.) You find information only when you enter these virtual rooms and scroll over objects until pop-up menus display what you want. By this point, you may have had it with the site—and, possibly, the agency. As with so many agency Web sites, there’s an underlying narcissism here—believing that people are so interested in your company that they will gladly spend time, no matter how frustrating, just to be in your presence.

—Posted by Catharine P. Taylor