Thursday, February 19, 2009

More Web Pages that Suck

Your web site can say an awful lot about you and your business. That's why, many years ago, frustrated web designers created a site called Web Pages that Suck to showcase the worst of the worst out there. Today, I have to feature the equine version.

1. There is no theme here. Every single page looks different. Nothing goes together. It's the web site equivalent of a particularly bad target on "What Not To Wear," a woman who has basically purchased everything shiny in her size that has come through the Hickaloosa, Alabama Goodwill Store for the past 23 years.

2. Nothing says cheesy like animated gifs. Seriously, even 4th graders don't put those on their web pages anymore!

3. More bad photography! This stallion has some nice bloodlines and while he doesn't have a performance record due to that big ol' lump evident on his back left, I don't think he's as bad as they're making him look here. This wouldn't be a flattering picture for the most conformationally correct AQHA stallion on earth. P.S. When you 'shop out the bump on some of the pics, you should remember to take it out on all of the pics.

4. Trying to market something you know nothing about. "Sport Ponies" and "Lippizan Stallions" are two very different things. Why are the Lippizans all over your "Sport Pony" page? I guess the plus side is that if you'd taken pics of actual sport ponies to use from the web, we might be misled into believing they were ones you bred, whereas with this page, we have no confusion between which are yours and which are not.

4a. P.S., which sport do you think Elephant Leg Pony qualifies for?

4b. I am pretty sure you did not get an actual registered Welsh pony with the moniker "Ahl-dat-an-'ah-bag'ah-chips" I could be wrong, surely, but I suspect his name and that of your other pony stud, "Yo Man," came out of a case of beer, not a formal registry.

5. Strange misspelled statements that come out of nowhere. "If there not a cat, they must be a dawg" in huge letters on this stallion's page. What does that even mean?

6. That page is also a classic example of the badly sized photo. If you have photoshop, there is an option box for "constrain proportions." You need to check that. If you don't, you wind up with a picture like this one, in which poor ol' Dirty Socks seems to have been caught in a funhouse mirror.

Sometimes this is accidental, as computer illiterate horsepeople try to fumble their way through a graphics editing program. Sometimes it is deliberate, because they are trying to make their horse look like it has a huge booty when it doesn't. Either way, it is obvious and incredibly lame looking.

(Yes, everybody, seven stallions. Fenced in with hot tape. Power outages must be a good ol' time on their ranch.)

7. And twenty four broodmares including "sport pony" and "warmblood." Uh-huh. I suspect a couple of those mares are nice but it's hard to tell since so many of the pictures have been squished down so that the mare appears to be 15 hands high with the legs of a mini. As I've said with others - now is the time to improve your broodmare herd, if you must breed. Break out the mediocre ones and sell them as riders. Buy the kind of mares you can't normally afford. Upgrade, upgrade, upgrade - or get out of the breeding biz.

8. Then there's the rescue page where, unfortunately, you can't find out any information about the available horses or what they know or do. I'm glad he's anti-slaughter but if you are going to have a rescue, at least make an effort with it. Clearly you have a camera.

9. Overall page layout. On my screen, the text is actually hidden from view by the pictures on some pages. There are so many different sized monitors and screen settings out there that if you don't structure things and merely put a pic next to text, it's easy for this to happen. It's hard for someone to read your information when a picture is covering it!

10. Finally, I will say this - This guy DOES have a better grasp of horse personalities and common sense training than most people. He may be a very competent trainer. But c'mon buddy - your web site is the equivalent of business cards you wrote in crayon on the back of used greeting cards and you can't tell me all seven of those stallions need to have their nuts. The Touchdown Kid horse looks pretty nice, is N/N and actually has good feet which I don't see much in TK horses, so if you think you're a good trainer, why don't you show your stuff and get him out there doing something?

Web sites don't have to be elaborate and flashy to be done well. They don't need to be super slick and full of all the latest technology. In my surfing, I came across this very well done web site as an example. Here we have consistent design, a clean and attractive look, all of the information we are looking for on each horse, and much better pics even though some are pasture pics. They paid attention to making sure their farm was clean and well-kept when they took pictures. The design is basic - anyone could do it and maintain it - but it works. They look like professionals I'd want to buy a horse from. And I'd feel like my mare was safe if she went to their farm for breeding. The macrame hot-tape look on the other page - not so good.

Someone had a funny thread on COTH not long ago about hideous web sites. What's the worst you've seen in the horse industry? Do you finally have a nice one that you like? You're welcome to recommend companies you've had good experiences with - just like good horse trainers, they deserve the acknowledgement in an industry full of flakes.