5 Truly Awful Landing Pages You Won’t Believe are from Well-Known Companies

With massive advertising budgets, government bailouts and an entourage of marketing experts, you’d think these famous companies would have getting a high conversion rate perfected down to a science. Unfortunately, as is the case with these five shining examples, what you ultimately get is a lot of customers shrugging and giving up in sheer frustration.

Here are some puzzling, unusual and downright aggravating landing page examples that will have you asking “what were they thinking!?”

Hermes – Creativity Can Go Too Far

hermes.com landing page

Fortunately, the famous clothing manufacturer got the hint and recently redesigned their pages with a clearer form of navigation. But for a time, this is what you got. No, clicking on the actual items doesn’t take you anywhere. Only certain ones, and even then, it wasn’t entirely clear where you were going. The Hermes homepage reminded me more of a matching game than a shopping site. If I flip over the bowl of fruit and the coat hanger, will I go to the checkout page?

Lessons we can learn from Hermes’ former design:

  • Don’t make the user guess (or think) about your navigation.
  • Give visitors guidance on where you want them to click.
  • First impressions are everything.

Chase – We Really Want You to Learn More

chase.com home page

Chase could have used some of that 25,000,000,000.00 (that’s 25 billion) in government bailout money to hire a web conversion expert.  Right on the index page they invite you to “Learn More” about everything with no less than three calls to action – each one taking you to different pages for very different products.

Chase’s credit card landing page reminds us why it’s called a landing page.  You’re there to do one of two things – login to your existing account, or apply for a credit card.  Not to get a student loan, not to learn about investing and not planning for retirement. 

What can we learn from Chase?

  • Too many calls to action on one page end up disorienting more people than they help.
  • There is such a thing as segmenting your landing pages to match a particular search query.
  • Let the user do what they came to do without bombarding them with constant offers.

Lowes – Here’s a Bunch of Discounts on a Bunch of Stuff

lowes home page

This is what happens when companies get coupon-happy.  I just wanted to buy an outdoor ceiling fan, and instead, I got a heap of discounts on one page, for products I’m not remotely interested in.  How searching for ceiling fans got me wheelbarrows, sawhorses and tile, I will never figure out.

Lowes’ landing page needs better congruency between products. If I’m searching for a ceiling fan, I might also be interested in outdoor lighting, waterproofing/staining products and such.  Discounts are great, but this collection reads more like the coupons section in the daily newspaper rather than a website that’s interested in getting repeat customers.

What can we learn from Lowes?

  • This isn’t the newspaper – you can get much more detailed in your audience targeting online.
  • Offering too many discounts all at one time only cheapens your offer.
  • Too many discounts on several products gives the impression of a shotgun approach to marketing instead of a calculated campaign.

Frontier Communications – Just Try and Find Out How to View Your Bill… C’mon, Try It!

frontier communication home page

As a communications company, you’d think Frontier would know better than to commit the cardinal sin of web site design – Mystery Meat Navigation.   Rather than give you any clear, coherent idea on where to go when you visit their website, they instead decide to play a guessing game with visitors.  Four speech bubbles pop up without any reference as to what they are. 

Moving your mouse over them simply causes a question mark to appear.  Not until you click do you discover what’s behind all these mystery bubbles.  Unfortunately, the question “How the heck am I supposed to find anything on this site?” wasn’t one of the choices.

This, and the three “Buy Now” buttons at the bottom made me wonder if less web-savvy people would think they were actually committing to buy the products at the bottom if they clicked.  Taking a cue from Chase, above, “Learn More” would be a better choice of words in this instance.

What can we learn from a communications company with confusing navigation?

  • Clear, easily labeled calls to action outperform question marks 100% of the time.
  • Users want and need direction. Consider placing links to the most popular or most commonly accessed areas of your site up front so that visitors don’t need to hunt.
  • “Buy Now” may be too strong of a suggestion on call-to-action buttons. It may give users the impression that they’re committing to making a purchase rather than clicking to learn more.

DirecTV

directv landing page

Some communications companies get too overzealous with their help.  DirecTV is one such example.  In their rush to showcase the latest gadget functionality, they forget all about why a customer might login to their account in the first place.  I’d love to be able to record and watch my favorite shows through my DVR, which is exactly what I was trying to do when I captured this image.

Study it and see if you can find out where I might be able to do that, because I never was able to figure it out. In this case, DirecTV got the steak and the sizzle right, but they forgot to tell the customer how to do the most commonly-requested things (like record a show!)

What can DirecTV’s customer landing page teach us?

  • You can sell the steak and the sizzle, but give the customer a way to take action.
  • Once they order or click – what’s the next step? Make sure to think the entire process through beyond just a call to action.
  • Promoting new products along with a FAQ can help cut down on customer calls and tech support issues.

These landing pages aren’t displayed here just for pure amusement. They’re meant to teach everyone – marketers and designers alike, that even well-known companies can stumble along the way. What works for one business’ conversion rate might cause another business’ conversions to tank. And just because the Art Department is sure you’ve got a visual winner, doesn’t mean your customers will agree. If these examples remind us of anything – it’s that every company, large and small, should test pages often (with a product like Google Website Optimizer or KISSmetrics), follow best practices and keep it simple and straightforward.

Share Your Landing Page Horror Stories

Have you come across a truly terrible landing page or corporate site that made you cringe? Share it with us below in the comments and tell us your thoughts on how you’d make it better!

About the Author: Sherice Jacob creates beautiful, high-converting landing pages, in addition to designing blogs and writing compelling content. Learn more at iElectrify or @sherice on Twitter.

  1. I would like to add the AT&T website to this list. Going to http://www.attwireless.com redirects to http://www.att.com/olam/... helpfully. Then, on the upper right side of the page, there is not one, but THREE ways to login to your account. Clicking on the “login” on the nav bar takes you to a different screen, where the drop-down menu again offers 3 different options for which account to log into! The options are AT&T u-verse, wireless, phone and Internet. Now you only need to figure out if your cell phone counts as a “phone” or if it’s only landlines they refer to, or if you didn’t sign-up for the full u-verse bundle but got only the voice part which option to click and if you do have Internet access through AT&T but not a phone, whether you should choose to login with the U-verse option or the “phone and Internet” option! In my humble opinion, AT&T has worked hard to earn its “most confusing web site ever” title.

    • hmmm, I definitely see your point. It is a little bit confusing to work yourself around that site. I would imagine it being a lot better if they migrated all the sites together, but since they wireless is really a massive company in itself, I can see why they have it separate.

    • I was expecting to see AT&T on this list as well. Navigating their site has always been a very perplexing experience.

  2. lol… Warren really like’s the KISS model ;)

  3. What I learned from Chase: How to ignore big bold text with dollar signs.

  4. Great article, Sherice. Just goes to show that having a bunch of money doesn’t assure you’ll get a well functioning web site. I’d suggest a follow up article on 5 or more sites that really do work well and why.

    • It’s interesting isn’t it? Just a simple site with the right formating could work 100x better than a big company making their attempt at it.

  5. Mike Fiorillo Dec 12, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    I’m always amazed at the plethora of horrible landing pages out there. All you need to do is Google any competitive search term. I guarantee that at least 1/2 of the AdWords landing pages are complete junk! Shocking…

  6. Wonderful article Sherice! I have totally no clue about what the Hermes page is all about. In fact you have to really think hard to navigate that page successfully. It makes my head spin!

    It just goes to show how big corporates are spending money on useless stuff these days (and NOT spending enough on the important stuff).

    • Surprisingly, they don’t take the time to work on this stuff because the wrong people are overlooking the project. I could tell that they’re slowly making the transition over.

  7. I thought something was wrong with my browser when I saw the Berkshire Hathaway page. Like when I’m viewing a text-only page with no mark-up, or one of those W3C pages from 1997 from the Internet Society’s standards. I actually had trouble telling what was advertising and what was site content because everything looks the same, and even the ads, like the one at the very bottom, in what would be a footer for a modern website, included a quotation or some sort of endorsement with Warren Buffett’s name attached to it!

  8. I just started laughing, all over again, after reading that. That man has the most hideous website. The colors remind me of Edvard Munch’s horrific woodcut, “The Scream”. Why does he have such an exalted reputation for user interface design (Jakob Nielson, that is)?

    • If he changes his design, he’d lose the one thing he’s known for. It’s like an actor who’s known for an ugly nose. They’ll lose fame if they change it.

  9. Very funny read! I do worry about some large companies, when you see their websites you do wonder how they go to be so large and influential.
    I would also like to add another site to the list, https://www.godaddy.com/ this landing page is a nightmare! Seriously! Everytime I see it I get a little bit more angry.
    Thanks for taking the time to put this together.

    jordan

    • I agree with you!!! Godaddy’s page is full of garbage. You would think that a site as big as them would create something more simple and easier to use.

  10. As a designer I often worry about how these big guys make it, its frightening how they can farm out so much utter junk on a landing page!
    Fantastic array of utter nonsense though, well done!

    • They’re definitely great targets to go after for business. That is if you can convince them on how much money they’re losing or leaving on the table.

  11. Seems like they’re still living in mid-90s with their site, it could really use a touch up!

  12. It’s funny that you mention the frontier website. It is even worse than you gave them credit for. My mom has them as her internet service provider. So I did try and login to her account. They make new and existing customers go through the same crap to get logged in. Then once you get there. You find out that it’s two different companies in the middle of a merge. So starting a new email account can’t be done on the site even though it has navigation for it. You have to go to another site. Its really bad

    • It’s funny how complicated they made their stuff, isn’t it? So many ways for that company to increase conversions if they really wanted to.

  13. It’s interesting you bring up Hermes. Their email marketing is equally perplexing. I understand trying to sell the brand experience, but it’s all so lofty with no real meat, no selling proposition or newsworthiness. Their site has a specific brand feel but not that sense of product immersion and useful browsing that could make it as impressive as its name. It has made significant improvements but has a long way to go.

  14. The Sirius website is awful http://www.sirius.com . It is very difficult to put together a pricing package or figure out how to change your current package to save or get more.

    There customer service on the phone is so horrible that there website should be a piece of cake.

    • ouch, they must of done you really wrong. I agree with you that their website could definitely use some work though.

  15. Oh my, those are some pretty bad ones. One of the worst I have seen is the BP site. It has some many drop down links and active response to the mouse that it is impossible to navigate. Sometime simple is better.

  16. Just checked the site out after seeing your comment. LOL, a little too KISS perhaps?

  17. Berkshire Hathaway’s website reminds me of an AOL 3.0 creation, very sad.

    @briannekimmel

  18. I hate to mention it, but I just went to your home page to see what you do, and I couldn’t find anything that tells me exactly how much it will cost me if I sign up. I clicked on “Learn More” and got a page telling me how great the product is, but not a single word about what it costs. Obviously it’s not free, or you would have it plastered all over the page. I’m not filling out something that gives you my info unless I know what I’m getting, and what it’s gonna cost me up front. Sorry.

  19. I do not like landing pages on FB that ask me to click to like and don’t do anything else. I feel used!

  20. This post gave me a huge grin because horrible usability drives me nuts. I’m with Kirstie – add Facebook to the list. That is the WORST site I force myself to go to because so many use it. How any individual page there works is all over the place.

    I have done all I can to get certain small business owners to understand the importance of landing page optimization and how small increases in conversion rate equal larger profits for them.

    Alas, the topic seems to be over the heads of most of them.

    As for Facebook and LinkedIn they have no excuse. They really need to hire the Eisenbergs or Steve Krug an start improving. Just because they can command find and retain huge numbers of users even with lousy usability doesn’t mean they should.

  21. Wonderful beat ! I would like to apprentice even as you amend your internet site, how could i subscribe for a weblog website? The account aided me a acceptable deal. I had been tiny bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided shiny transparent concept

  22. I also don’t like landing pages on facebook fan page.

  23. so cool. I didn’t know that landing page can be so bad.

  24. I am pretty sure I found the worse landing page ever. This was a landing page for an ad in gmail. You can read about it here.. http://www.panopticdev.com/blog2014/worse-landing-page-ever/

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