I’m convinced that one of the reasons we wind up with so many overly clever and completely useless websites is that the wrong people are often assigned to handle the projects.
As James Hipkin sagely noted in a comment here the other day, one key factor is what he calls “Boardroom Boredom” – the fact that what entertains attendees in an otherwise dry meeting to discuss media expenditure is rarely the sort of thing consumers are looking for in a website.
Now part of this comes from the agency wanting to put on a fun show. But if you're running a brand, ask yourself how much of if comes from the make-up of your marketing department: are you heavily invested in ex-agency people, whose experience has been in launching TV commercials, print ads and flash banners as opposed to websites? (And remember, it’s not the same thing: the ad’s job is to get you to consider making a purchase. The website is for when you’ve already decided you’re interested and want to find out more or actually buy the thing.)
Utility doesn’t have to equal dull and boring. But it does have to, you know, provide utility. Not bury it inside a cutesy video that made everyone laugh during the meeting.