Free lunch! Announcing the worst website in the world contest: Shard brings new meaning to the word “clueless”

How to free your posh restaurant from irritating, demanding customers who clutter it up by eating, drinking, wasting the staff’s time and paying you.

Shard mystery
I know I keep harping on about how bloody useless most marketers are, but even 50 odd years of looking at the work of f**wits hadn’t prepared me for this little lulu.

This is the website for the restaurant at the top of London’s highest and most pointless building, the Shard. And does it fit in with the monster’s brand values? You bet your life! Because it too is utterly pointless.

Utterly illegible ? Check! Hard to see how to book? Check! No reasons given for going there? Check! Absolutely no appetite appeal? Check! Website designer hopelessly lost 3 miles up his own back passage? Check! All involved need to rush down to the nearest Optometrist? Check! Client deserves good kicking for approving the whole ghastly mess, just before being thrown off the top of the building? Check!

It is actually possible to see that these details are there, carefully reversed out over the meaningless picture. But I never noticed them when I was sent the illustration by a kindly friend. I just wrote back saying “Is that it?”

If you can show me a worse website, I will either: a) stand  you lunch in either Bristol or London – assuming you can stand my company 0r b) pay for lunch for you and a partner wherever you happen to live.

The only qualification  is that it has to be a serious professional business, not something thrown together by a home laundry in Uttar Pradesh. (Not that I’m suggesting the clowns who put this abortion together are professional).

About the Author

Drayton

<p>In 2003, the Chartered Institute of Marketing named Drayton one of 50 living individuals who have shaped today’s marketing.</p>
<p>He has worked in 55 countries with many of the world’s greatest brands. These include American Express, Audi, Bentley, British Airways, Cisco, Columbia Business School, Deutsche Post, Ford, IBM, McKinsey, Mercedes, Microsoft, Nestle, Philips, Procter & Gamble, Toyota, Unilever, Visa and Volkswagen.</p>
<p>Drayton has helped sell everything from Airbus planes to Peppa Pig. His book, Commonsense Direct and Digital Marketing, out in 17 languages, has been the UK’s best seller on the subject every year since 1982. He has also run his own businesses in the U.K., Portugal and Malaysia.</p>
<p>He was a main board member of the Ogilvy Group, a founding member of the Superbrands Organisation, one of the first eight Honorary Fellows of the Institute of Direct Marketing and one of the first three people named to the Hall of Fame of the Direct Marketing Association of India. He has also been given Lifetime Achievement Awards by the Caples Organisation in New York and Early To Rise in Florida.</p>

31 Comments

  1. Darragh

    I think that the illegibility is caused (or made worse) by visiting the site on an old web browser. All your points still stand nonetheless. Awful website.

    1. Karamoon

      About 40% of desktop users have an “old” browser. However, it’s not unusual for certain groups of prospects and customers to be massively skewed towards older browsers.

      – Karamoon

  2. Matthew Guise

    Wow!

    Have only just realised there’s text under the blue box.

    That is truly awful.

  3. greg

    As one might have remarked of the Church of England when Rowan Williams was Archbishop, ‘It is indeed dispiriting.’

  4. Grahame

    Clearly you’ve hit a nerve Drayton. When I went to the site to see this piece of awfulness for myself, I noticed the copy, formerly reversed out of the feathers design, is now encased in a blue box the same as the one encasing the restaurant name. The copy is, of course, still reversed out…I guess some things are sacrosanct.

  5. Reversed type on peacock feathers? Somebody should tell them they’re not in the word search business…

  6. Have a contender!!
    Wrote the post below a couple of weeks ago then discovered same day that an old Australian company, Big Sister foods had gone belly up, so looked at their website, link in the last para.
    They did not go belly up, someone bloody shot them!
    http://strategyaudit.wordpress.com/2014/05/06/consumers-and-fmcg-retail-control/

    1. Drayton

      Bloody hilarious cartoon

  7. john walters

    Your money’s safe, Drayton. It is beyond the possibility of human consciousness to come up with anything worse.

  8. Karamoon

    How about this:
    http://www.creativewithak.com/

    I managed 4 clicks before I threw up over my wife’s laptop.
    – Karamoon

  9. Karamoon

    The headache-inducing site of “Grip Limited” is a crime against typography:
    http://www.griplimited.com/

    The site is so incomprehensible that the creator included the text “In case you didn’t know, we’re an advertising agency.”

    -Karamoon

    1. Drayton

      I think you look suspiciously like being the winner, Kara

      1. Karamoon

        In the unlikely event that I do win (I never in anything…) could I be awfully cheeky and bring along my copy of Some Rats Run Faster for you to sign? It arrived today.

        – Karamoon

        1. Drayton

          Has it put you to sleep yet, Kara? I think I recall the first sentence.

          In Sheldon the sky is a grey slate ceiling and the flavour of the month is grime.

          1. Karamoon

            That’s the start of the 3rd paragraph. The 1st sentence gets straight to the point, and rings true today :
            “OF COURSE, nowadays they reckon it’s dead smart to come from some slaggy little town in the North.”

            The bio on the back cover is worth at least ten times the 20 quid I paid for it:
            “Drayton Bird was born in Liverpool, 1932. He recalls with detestation his preparatory school and his time at Trent college. This was followed by a wasted year at Manchester University.

            He was largely educated in his father’s pub in Ashton-under-Lyne. He has always written for a living, and is now employed by an advertising agency in London

            This is his first book. He feels novels should entertain before they do anything else, deplores the present upholding of violent fiction and deprecation of pornography.

            He lives in a little house at Eltham and is perpetually in conflict with his wife, three children bank manager and employers.”

            – Karamoon

          2. Drayton

            Oh God. You’re right. It all comes rushing back. I look good on the cover though:-)

    1. Drayton

      I am of the old-fashioned view that what marketing is about is making money.

      That being the case, I consider Ling’s to be one of the best sites I have ever seen. And I bet her bank manager agrees.

      See http://www.marketingdonut.co.uk/marketing/pr/pr-opportunities/how-i-use-publicity-stunts-to-promote-my-online-car-leasing-business

  10. Kuba

    I am up for the challenge.
    http://www.lingscars.com/ – Lings Cars

    Aqua shard website (http://www.aquashard.co.uk/) now has half-transparent background color behind the text (I suspect it was there all the time and your friend used browser that didn’t showed it), but even when commented out the code responsible for that background, Lings Cars’ website is still winner to me 🙂

    Copy of Aqua shard website with background removed:
    http://copy.0fees.us/a.htm

    1. Drayton

      I think I’ve already pointed out that Ling’s is one of the best – and most profitable – websites anywhere.

      This often surprises those who like nice design. Many – especially corporate people, or those who don’t have to make their own money – wonder why it does so well, when it appears to be a total shambles.

      You don’t need nice design when you’re in car leasing. The brand values are supplied by the car manufacturers.

      What you do need is to keep people on your site for as long as possible. Stuff that entertains (but relevantly) and amuses (but relevantly) and surprises (but relevantly).

      Remember this is all about salesmanship. Every great car salesman knows the longer you keep people on the lot the better you will do.

      Ling uses every damn trick in the book to that effect. There are so many involvement devices it’s astounding. But everything is perfectly clear, and is a help in selling.

      She doesn’t give a hoot about brand values … but she conveys a strong, funny personality. Her speeches are a riot.

      I bet you any sum you like she is about ten times as well-known – maybe more – than any competitor of her size.

  11. Ross

    It must be a restaurant thing. This runs it pretty close – http://www.manchesterhouse.uk.com/

    Ross

    1. Drayton

      Must be the same blind art director, Ross

  12. Hi Drayton, if there is still more room for hilariously bad websites I have one which I think would be a contender. http://www.archangelcomms.com/ – they’re passionate about success in general, as well as ‘your success’ and ‘making our customers more successful.’ WOW. On the other hand I do think Manchester House has a strong case for being successfully awful; I love that we shouldn’t be fooled by what appears to be a ‘very normal city tower.’ I’m intrigued and intend never to find out what ‘special experience’ lies therein for the poor unsuspecting diner. Have you decided who your winner is?

    1. Drayton

      A very high bollocks rating. I particularly like the terrifying figure on the left, the product of a clearly deranged mind. I have had lamentably few entries to this contest, because I restricted it to this blog. I will probably mention it to my entire list and see what comes up.

    2. I would like to make it absolutely clear that the comment made by Rachael (who is no longer at RSW) is NOT the view of RSW and I would like to apologise unreservedly for any offence caused by her comment.

      I think it would be apposite for us all to remember when making posts that are one’s personal opinions NOT to link them back to the company that one works for!!

      1. Drayton

        Why apologise? I thought her comments about the absurd over use of passion were 100% spot on.

  13. Guy Smith

    If it’s not too late to submit, please can I contend with this..

    http://ogreen.special-t.com/en/

    Particularly in respect of the amount of money spent on a pointless animation and the fact that even if you click at the bottom of the screen you still can’t get to a page easily from which you can buy the product.

    1. Drayton

      What a snotter! A psychologist would have fun with that one. Because I have only mentioned this contest on the blog, I am going to promote it – together with one other I am dreaming up – via my email list.

      1. Drayton

        Just about the website contest. I haven’t forgotten, just snowed under with work. This one is hard to beat: wondermentcreative.com/#

  14. Ideation and execution are interdependent.

    1. Drayton

      Quite so. But I HATE the word ideation.

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