I have to write about this web site redesign, because it is an example of the worst I have ever seen. I understand the dynamics of these situations as I’ve been part of many of them in my past life as a consultant.
There is a quick serve restaurant by the name of Noodles and Company. I had admired them for a very long time for two reasons, 1) open and complete access to nutritional info regarding the restaurant menu and 2) one of the most elegant web site to find that information.
This has been one of my favorite web sites for a matter of years. Recently, that all changed.
Now I can imagine the internal dialogue. ‘Our web site is so outdated, we need to jazz it up, make it an experience’. I’m almost certain this directive did not come from an expressed customer need but rather a marketing executive with a new idea or perhaps a new hire coming in to ‘really push the online Noodles and Company web presence’.
LINK UPDATED: March 30, 2011
Web Site after Redesign (warning, this web site DID play music automatically, without asking you-but the wayback machine version does not do that)
Well, that’s where the problems began……..they were bored with the very functional, very on brand, very easy to use web site they used to have. They wanted a web site that’s main purpose (information gathering) was hidden amongst fun adventures that ‘engage a customer with the brand’.
Dear Noodles and Company, I’m your customer, your marketing team was wrong!!!
So, instead of passively sitting by I used the new web site ‘Noodleville’ to contact the Mayor of Noodle town. (no, I’m not kidding)
I received a prompt response, I’ll give em that. The response engaged me in further questions, ‘did I find the information I was looking for?’. Yes, but on the way to finding that information, I was blasted by the web site’s automagic music blast and the spinning and motion sickness from watching the town buzz by each time I chose a different navigation item.
I was also told that they wanted the web site to be more of an experience and they were disappointed that it was not satisfactory for me. It wasn’t satisfactory for me as I don’t want to play with my Noodles and Company web site, I want to find information, usually quickly as I’m heading out with people to lunch or some similar situation.
I responded to the questions, telling the mayor of Noodletown that this was really an unacceptable reply to my concern. I explained that I work in this industry and I am a very regular customer and well, the new web site wasn’t good enough. I begged them to go back, luckily I still have the Way Back Machine.
Lesson of the day….
Just because you think it’s a good idea inside the organization, it doesn’t mean it is……. the last time I heard from the Mayor, I was assured the my feedback was appreciated and would be passed on to the marketing team. Unfortunately, I’m very doubtful they will listen to me. I’m sure they are in love with their new online experience meanwhile customers like me have to make different choices about where to eat because frankly, they’ve made the information gathering just that much harder and it’s not worth it to me. If I want that one dish I know the info on, I’ll go there, but if it’s something else, I won’t patronize them. I can’t support that kind of navel gazing web site design. It’s the principle of the thing. Maybe they will surprise me and come up with some way to meet needs of customers like me and have their experience. Here’s hoping.