The Coca-Cola Crypts: Why Unloved Pages Damage Your Brand

When websites grow old, outdated and unloved content can collect dust, hiding away in less visible areas of your site. I was tempted to name these sections graveyards, but let’s instead call them Content Crypts.

Dated content often remains online because “it doesn’t hurt to have it there”. In this post I argue the opposite: all pages on your website shape a viewer’s perception of your brand, and you need to control the messages on your website.

All of your website is ad-space

No one would ever take out ad-space for a sale that happened in the past. But this is exactly what happens with Content Crypts. It’s the digital equivalent of leaving out-dated pamphlets in your store. Because we don’t directly pay for space on our own websites, we can get sloppy about how space is used. But all of your website space is ad-space and needs to be treated as such.

Don’t waste my time

A user’s time is precious. Letting them fall into a Crypt will lead to trauma confusion & frustration.

You built your website because you had select messages you wanted to communicate and goals you wanted users to complete. Content Crypts work against these intentions.

Additionally, Crypt pages will linger in search results. While they may (by fluke) act as landing pages, they are not going to create your desired first impression or be effective in converting a visitor into a user. And if Crypt pages are indexed in your website’s own search results, users will need to trawl through outdated content.

It can happen to the best biggest

While searching for information about Coca-Cola, I came across coca-colacompany.com.

That single hyphen in the URL! Why didn’t they go with coca-cola-company.com instead?

This corporate website is a dumping ground for Coke-related content. I’ve taken a screenshot of Coke’s homepage for longevity of this post.

It’s amazing that the third most valuable brand in the world (behind Apple and Google) with an estimated brand value of $81.6 billion (2004) could run such a poorly designed website with vast amounts of outdated and unhelpful content.

Page Layout

Here is a wirify generated wireframe of the homepage.

Actually, this is just half the page. It’s twice as long as shown here (click the wireframe to view the full page).

The wireframe itself is confusing, even before filling it with bright and colourful content which battles with itself for the user’s attention.

Aside from a carousel at the top of the page, there is no visual focus. There is no ‘F Formation’ that leads the user’s eye to any fixed point on the page. (For a quick explanation, check out Z-Pattern, F-Pattern, and Visual Hierarchy by The Hipper Element)

Navigation

The navigation contains a total of 18 different options, plus a search bar, which is way too many:

coke_header

  • It’s best practice is to use five or seven navigation links. This way the user can centre their eye on the list, better orientating themselves.
  • The Frontpage link (meaning ‘Back to Home’) is redundant. Users know to click a website’s logo to return to the homepage.
  • Ambiguous labels such as Unbottled don’t guide the user. Unbottled is a blog, and simply calling it Blog would probably result in more traffic to these pages.
  • The Sustainability section should incorporate both EKOCENTER and PlantBottle to minimise the number of navigation entries. Both these words are marking devices and don’t work as stand-alone links. A user shouldn’t never have to guess where a link will leads them.

Strangely, a version of the main navigation is repeated under the carousel.

coke_2ndheader

In this version the links are in a different order and a Sports and Jobs section has been added. This is confusing: why would a user look for jobs in the middle of a corporate web page? The Jobs link belongs in the footer.

Disruptive Aesthetics

On the far right of the navigation is Food & Recipes – a prime example of a Content Crypt. The page doesn’t feel like Coke’s brand, instead mimicking the an aesthetic of a recipe site (especially the typography which is similar to BBC Good Food). This is a stylistic choice that runs throughout the website where each section has a different typography in the header.

The headline of the page has been reduced to Food instead of Food & Recipes. For a user this is confusing: are recipes still available in this section?

Coke_FoodAndRecipiesCrop

Page Components

The Overview contains no overview information. Recipes, which is the content we wanted to view, is hidden behind a tab.

Coke_FoodAndRecipes_Overview

Notice the pie-chart/graph on the right? That is a static graphic explaining how other users search through the recipes. It’s not clickable! The user can’t get to the recipes so why include it?

This Week’s Poll asks users what drink they would like to see in recipes next. Pseudo-democracy at its dullest.

Coke_FoodAndRecipes_poll

Then we have true crypt content…

Coke_FoodAndRecipes_shared

Most Shared… only two people only have shared the ‘The Importance of Family Dinners’ story. Not a good look for Coke’s social media or content team.

Coke_FoodAndRecipes_shared2

Most Debated… with a total of only 43 votes I would be hesitant to call this the Most Debated. The content is over two years old, the poll closed off from further votes, and the content half edited.

Coke_FoodAndRecipes_shared3

Conclusion

The Coke corporate site is a weed garden. Content crypts left up on the website are no longer interactive and embarrassingly old. Users that land on these pages stand to learn nothing about the product or the brand. While providing ample fodder for a UX and brand analysis, this subsection does little to inspire cooking.

Doing away with dated contents would give relevant content on the site more breathing room and focus the visitors on content that supports the Coke brand.

 

Featured Image Photo Credit: Andy Warhol (American, 1928–1987), Coca-Cola (3), 1962, casein on canvas. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. © 2015 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Site Footer