Corporate websites

Trawling through the sites of three hundred or so ICT companies gives you a new perspective of capitalism. It’s a perspective I could have done without.

It’s not the graphics-heavy sites, or the menus that pop up in inconvenient places, or the occasional horrifying overuse of flash. It’s the way in which corporate PR people stretch the laws of reality trying to make their firm stand out in the crowd while simultaneously studiously avoiding any reference to what it actually does. How do they manage it? The amount of effort that designers of ICT websites go to in pursuit of this infuriating paradox must be extraordinary.

To give you some context, I’m building a list of companies to contact regarding a software engineering industry survey. The companies should therefore be involved, in some small way at least, in software engineering. The list I’m working from is a list of ICT companies, many of whom merely supply software or provide other support services.

Do you think you can tell, just from looking at a company’s website, whether they make software or not? The very companies whose core business created the “information superhighway” seem pathologically unable to inform us of such fundamental facts. Some sites, it should be noted, are very well done and tell you exactly what you need to know. Others – often the ones with sleeker graphics – try exceedingly hard to tell you nothing at all, using terms like “innovation”, “solution”, “dynamic” and “changing environments”. They might indeed provide the most innovative solutions of anyone in dynamically changing environments, but what do they do? They seem to imply that if you don’t understand what they’re talking about you don’t deserve to be viewing their site.