petronas.com

petronas.jpg

One of the things that I like about the Web is the ability to travel through time.

It’s amazing how you can jump back into ancient history just by typing a few words in a search bar. What’s cooler than typing a phrase like ‘Paleolithic Cave Paintings’ and suddenly finding yourself staring at a mammoth at Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc?

Even if you’re not into world history, you can still do other cool stuff like compare a website that you built in October 2007 to a website that someone designed five, six or even ten years ago.

If you want to travel back to what the Web looked like a decade ago, go to petronas.com.

It’s one of many Malaysian corporate websites that represent the Golden Age of the Internet; the age of animated GIFs, bad HTML markup and bad user experiences.

One of the first things I noticed about the website was the free-floating news section. I’m not sure which eye-tracking model the interface designers at Petronas or their web agency referred to, but I’m pretty sure that it looks totally whack.

The fact that the news hasn’t been updated since September 2007 isn’t as disturbing as the three animated banners at the bottom of the page.

(Wait a minute, they’re at the bottom of my page? You mean they’re not at the bottom of your page? Woah!)

Well, this is because we’re probably using different browsers and the website developers didn’t test my browser version. Or maybe they didn’t test your browser version. In which case, it’s like trying to find out what really killed the dinosaurs; we’ll never truly know.

Anyway, since the animated banners are at the bottom of my page, I can’t really make out the links on the bottom right of my screen. So, I’ve decided that I’m not going to click on any of them.

But, because I’m curious about what Petronas does for our community, I’m going to click on the ‘Community’ link and see what happens next.

Wow.

The page layout is totally different now. There’s a main navigation bar at the top of the page! And the links that appeared out of frame earlier have now magically reappeared at the top.

If you decide to stay on this page and learn more, you’ll notice a few more nasty boo boos. For example, the breadcrumb trail doesn’t behave like breadcrumbs because they’re not clickable. The distribution of copy on the ‘Community’ landing page is more or less easy to scan through, until you explore the links and find huge paragraphs of ‘cut-and-paste’ content on some inside pages and flyers on others.

At this point, you must be wondering why I haven’t linked to any of the inner pages. Well, the website’s legal notice said that I could not ‘frame or link to a page other than the homepage without obtaining express permission from the Webmaster.’

Bummer.

Since I’m not that free that I have time to hang with Webmasters, let’s just look at some of the positive aspects of this website.

On the bright side, the search function has a few interesting options; you can choose the number of results you want to view, you can sort results by relevance and there’s even a Petronas version of Google’s “I’m Feeling Lucky”.

There’s also a sitemap, a list of other Petronas websites to check out and a fully-functional feedback form. If you’re looking for a job, you can click on the ‘People’ link on the main navigation bar, and you’ll load up the microsite www.discoverpetronas.com, where you can drop your resume or find out more about what sort of skill sets the company looks for in employees.

Pretty cool, huh?

Anyway, I think I’m going to head to Google now and see if I can find out whether it was a meteorite or a tidal wave that capped T-Rex.

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Filed under Accessibility, Advertising, Design, Information Architecture, Reviews, Usability, Web

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