No redeeming qualities, just bitter invective

Larry Bowden, Vice President of portals and web experience at IBM, has written an article entitled, How to make your website more enjoyable which is fascinating, for all the wrong reasons. I don’t know whether I should even link to it (Hah! Of course I do. Here it is). It seems extraordinary to me that IBM have a senior person in charge of the car-crash that comprises their website—especially when said individual then feels compelled to write an article asking readers whether they “delight” their customers with their “exceptional” on-line experiences.

Jeepers. Still let’s move on. What insight does Mr. Bowden have for us now that we’re well into the 21st century?

I predict that in 2011 most businesses will start running the whole gamut of modern online web marketing activities by utilizing new tools and services made available by a variety of companies worldwide.

OK. Well that was a sentence entirely devoid of meaning. Let’s try again:

Take personal to a whole new level
Welcome the customer and make it personal by offering products and services so specialized that they can’t say “no.” One way to personalize is based on customer attitude, tastes, opinions, preferences, and desires. Use analytics tools…

Ah yes, analytics, IBM’s current “thing”. We call it “reporting” round our way, and we’ve had it since, well, since we’ve had websites. Still, there it is.

Mr. Bowden goes on to talk about personalisation, and how that is crucial for a successful business site. Indulge me as I tell a tale that is all too familiar to many IBM Business Partners out there: Big Blue make it personal for me by (a) getting my company name wrong on every page (despite my telling them the correct name in about sixteen different profile screens) and (b) by insisting that I use a defunct email address from my previous employer as my log-in. Hmm. OK, I suspect we’ve said all that needs saying… Next!

If your marketing team is not discussing ways to add more rich media to your website, I recommend it start now. According to the information technology encyclopedia website, rich media is…

Enough. NEXT!

Make it go
If you can’t check out all the sections of your website with a smartphone or an iPad then forget about gaining and retaining new customers.

Wise words. It makes sense to have your site accessible from mobile devices, especially when you consult with partners and customers about “exceptional web experiences.” So let’s take a look at, first with the validator: checker results

Hmm, not so good. But take it with a pinch of salt: they’re not testing with smartphones in mind, and they have stuff to sell. What about the W3C’s mobile checker?

W3C Mobile Checker


I think I’m done. Thanks for hanging in there, I am off for a lie down in a dark room.

(If you want some help with your website, have a chat with your friendly local web developer or IBM Business Partner. They will help you, and on their behalf I promise they won’t use the words “analytics” or “exceptional”).


  1. Nicely put, I can only think that Larry and many others at IBM have not used their website, and especially the IBM Partnerworld websiteCarl Tyler#
  2. Thanks Ben…..this is one of the most entertaining blog posts I have read in a while.Curt Carlson#
  3. Better yet, if they need help with their website, they should talk to their kids and ask them what they like. After that they can work with their BPs to get it done right.Roy Rumaner#
  4. Excellent blog Ben, as always. But it all ended so quickly - was just getting into it.Jon Russell#
  5. Thanks chaps.

    Jon, I have no attention span, I get easily distra—LOOK! A SQUIRREL!Ben Poole#
  6. Classic. Not sure this guy could be considered senior within IBM though - "Vice President" seems to be a grandiose job title the Americans give to low level managers who have simply hung around at a company for many years.Jeff Gilfelt#
  7. Hilarious. Maybe someone well placed within IBM will read this and take action. I don't initially want a smarter IBM.COM, just one that's easy to use in the first place. We'll deal with smarter once that's done.Andy Stewart#
  8. Chortle-tastic…

    My IBM ID, which is not to be confused with my LDD ID (which used to be called my ID) is an email address from at least 3-4 employers ago.

    It's personal. But not from this millennium.Darren Duke#
  9. @7 agreed. Although smart is "easy to use". I find it bang-head-on-wall hilarious for anyone from IBM to lecture on good web design. I know of one (single) site completed by them that I would class as functional and easy. And I think I know one more then most.Paul Mooney#
  10. Well shoot. I am especially grateful that I get to access the same link to see my open PMRs at least 10 times before I get to see them. And viewing Passport remind me of my first apartment…. nostalgic times rummaging through all my papers trying to find things. Brought a smile to my face.David DeWell#
  11. Hmmm.. It seems that more is said by what is not written.

    This sort of thing reminds me of a joke. What's the difference between IBM and a government department ? IBM is listed on the NASDAQ.

    I find those adverts I occasionally see about a "Smarter planet" and "I'm an IBMer" to be antagonising when you look at the state of affairs.Giulio#
  12. At Lotusphere they will start talking about "exceptional work experiences". That probably means you are hanging out in your small home office, with a headset on, trying to calm the screaming kids, listening to endless telephone conferences, while your boss takes credit for your achievements. And on the intranet everybody knows you are a dog.Volker Weber#
  13. Ben, If you happen to be coming to Lotusphere this year, I would like to get together and talk about your observations. We have a few dozen customer speakers talking about thier experiences in creating great customer facing sites. It could be interesting for you to talk to them and I would be glad to try and set some meetings up for you.. Larry Bowden#
  14. @12 - Come by speedgeeking on Tuesday. I'm giving a 5 minute blast on the zen of working naked.

    @Ben - My apologies for this blatant advert. I don't mean to hijack the thread, just thought it was a good opening.

    @All - sorry for my sucky ass apology and sounding like a whiny little girl

    @Ben (again) - Damn, I wish you were coming to LS this year.Devin Olson#
  15. @13 A very kind offer, thank you. Alas, no LS for me this year

    @14 :-D yes, I wish I was attending too. Have a beer or five for me!
    Ben Poole#

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I’m a software architect / developer / general IT wrangler specialising in web, mobile web and middleware using things like node.js, Java, C#, PHP, HTML5 and more.

Best described as a simpleton, but kindly. You can read more here.