Thursday, December 23, 2010

Worst. Website. Ever.

Okay, so I got a request yesterday from a friend (through another friend) to update my blog with thoughts on the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", and that's exactly what I set down to do, BUT, I have to excise something from my brain first...something that could probably get me into trouble if anyone actually read this damn thing, but since no one does, I might get out of this unscathed. I guess half the fun here is seeing what happens, and this is *really* something I need to get off my chest...

There's a guy in Des Moines, trying to make a name for himself by being a Gay Wedding Planner (and by Gay Wedding Planner, I mean he plans gay weddings, not that he's gay and a wedding planner...I can't speak with 100% confidence, but I think there's probably enough of those around that it would be hard to make a name for yourself that way). We used to be Facebook friends, but I pissed him off once by sticking up for Republicans. Yeah, I'm kind of a liberal Republican...like Megan McCain. Anyway, either he doesn't like me, or he's over it and just thinks I'm a douche, but that's neither here nor there. I don't have a problem with him at all, because, quite frankly, I don't know him. I'm just getting all this out of the way. Apparently he's trying to sell a reality show on this gay wedding planning that he's doing...my buddy tells me that he's trying to get on board with the Oprah network (and that's all I'm saying on *that* as I could completely digress for paragraphs on the idea that Oprah needs an entire network...).

All of this is great (except for the part where the guy in question thinks I'm a douche bag...that's not really great in my opinion...), until you see what seems to be his primary marketing piece: His website. This is, again, in my opinion, the WORST website on the entire Internet. I mean, it's worse than those pointless pages that show up in Google searches that seem to be exactly what you're searching for but in reality are nothing more than a page with links to nowhere and do nothing other than install new search bars into your browser. Yeah, the website is *that* bad. Want to see how bad it is? Go here: www.gayweddingswithpanache.com .

First, let's look at the URL itself...I'm fairly certain it has to be the longest URL in the history of the Internet. There had to be a better choice. I'm assuming simply panache.com was taken, but maybe panacheweddings.com? I don't know. I guess I'm a web snob (I'm not), but I just think you don't need to lay out your entire business plan in your website's URL. Imagine if everyone did this. Want to go to CNN's website? Type in www.cnnnewswithentertainmentandweatherandsportsandinternationalnews.com...Facebook? How about www.facebookconnectsyouwithfriendspeopleyouwanttofuckandhighschoolfrenemiesyouwanttoseeiftheygotfatandbald.com...yeah, see, annoying.

Secondly, and this is a real sticking point with me: what the FUCK kind of word is 'panache' anyway? What does it mean? Okay, sure, it's defined on the homepage, but still...it means to plan something with 'confidence' and 'verve'...what the hell does that mean? I have a vocabulary larger than Carnie Wilson's circumference, and I'm not even really sure if 'panache' is a good thing or a bad thing. You know why? Because no one other that Fran Dreschler, Old Jewish women, and this particular website use it. And since no one uses it, I have to wonder how many people know how to spell it. Imagine working for this guy, and encountering someone out at a bar, the mall, dinner, whatever...you find out they're getting married, and you start to pitch this wedding planner..."Hey," you say, "look us up on the web!" They ask what the website is, and you say "gayweddingswithpanache.com". You immediately have about three things going against you:

1.) They have to remember that incredibly long URL. You best hope that no alcohol or anything else distracting (read: 'interesting') happens in the rest of these potential clients' evening, or else that bit of knowledge is gone.

2.) They have to figure out how to spell 'panache'...I suppose you could tell them during the initial encounter, but they have to remember that too.

3.) They have to figure out if they do, in fact, want their gay wedding to be with 'panache'...which means they need to figure out what the hell panache means (or 'verve' if they've actually made it to the website...).

By this point in time, they probably could have just hired www.perfectweddings or www.perfectevents or www.weddingplanners.com to do the job and been done with it.

Anyway...once you get to the website, it doesn't get much (any) better. The homepage (an insanely close up of Cherry Blossoms) says "Click anywhere to get started" In this particular case though, 'anywhere' means anywhere BUT the place that says "Click anywhere to get started', as that doesn't work(point of fact, simple web design research will tell you that particular spot is going to be the first place people are going to click). Other places on this page where you can't click: The big honkin' words that say "Welcome to Panache" the definition of "panache" or the company's tag-line. At this point in time you've just redefined the word 'Anywhere'...and I'm doubting your definition of 'Panache'...

So, after an hour of trying to find some part of 'anywhere' that counts as 'anywhere', you're in the site. You know what I love? Tacky cursive font and multiple exclamation points!!! YES!!!! Nothing says "Perfect for my Once In A Lifetime Event" than a standard font that no one ever uses for anything, and MULTIPLE EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!

Then, the website uses my very most favorite words EVER: "Attention to Detail"...because right there, I start nitpicking (seriously, before I saw those words, I wasn't nitpicking, I was just aghast). The spacing between your paragraphs is messed up, and you've used the wrong "its" in the second paragraph. Also, this is a company's website, not a text message, so spell out the words "and" and "with". You're not limited to 160 characters, so using "&" and "w/" is just lazy (especially after people get Carpal Tunnel Syndrome from having to type your novel of a URL).

And can we talk about commas? You use them a lot, and very rarely correctly. I think whoever wrote the copy here may have had trouble with the period key and substituted commas in hoping no one would notice. Here's just a hint going forward: Read the text out loud, pause briefly every time there's a comma. If you sound like William Shatner's performance of "Rocket Man", you've got too many in there.

And finally (I really don't have the time or energy to go through EVERY page on this site), I want to pay close attention to the 'Entertainment' tab. Clicking on the Entertainment tab takes you to a page with the headline "Music, Flora, and Pictures". Well, ONE of those is entertainment. The other is a keepsake, the the third is a decoration.

We'll ignore that you misspelled "jockeys" in the first sentence. My main problem here is that the majority of the entertainment tab talks about flowers. Inexplicably, the paragraph that starts talking about music and technology flows into talking about how access to all of this will make your flowers look perfect...WHAT!?!?!? Also, flowers? Not entertaining. Pretty, sure. Entertaining? Not so much. Nothing dead is entertaining...unless you're a necrophile...and get to a corpse like, say, Heath Ledger's in the first 10 minutes or so. A flower, no matter how beautiful it is, once in a vase, is dead. It can lean against the edge. It can fall onto the table top. It can be plucked and smelled. But it really shouldn't be 'entertaining'. I'll go so far as to say that if the most entertaining thing about a wedding is its flowers, someone forgot the 'panache'.

Here's my advice to you (even though the odds of you ever seeing this are slim to none): Spend some money on your website. Every page has the "This website was made using Wix.com. Make your own website for FREE" footer on it. Yeah, everyone who visits your site knows you did this on the cheap. And it shows. Geocities websites from back in the late 90's were better looking than this. And get yourself an actual writer to write your site's copy. In fact, just message me and I'll do it. I may not provide you "text with panache", but I'll give you "website copy with grammatical accuracy and a little bit of class" (all for the low, low rate of $30 a page...).

Seriously though, this all may seem harsh, but when you've got a website that bad, and are a fairly prominent and active member in our little community here in Iowa, someone needs to stop kissing your ass long enough to point out the truth. If your show takes off and Gayweddingswithpanache (or is it just 'Panache'? The website seems to forget exactly what the name of your company is from page to page...) becomes nationally famous, you should probably have a web presence that doesn't make Al Gore regret giving humanity the Internet.

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