More proof that more money doesn't equal more quality

Just so you know: this page was imported from my old blog. Some pages were rather mangled in the process; my apologies if things don't quite look right.

Matt - bank charges - (c) Matt/The Telegraph
(c) Matt/Telegraph - more of the same here

I've written - no, ranted - before about how embarrassingly poor the Alliance and Leicester website is, when their badly-designed personal banking website managed to cost me a lot of money in penalty charges.

Checking my balance tonight (ok, I'm waiting for my student loan to come in so I can pay off some debts and, err, maybe spend some of it on a posh widescreen telly. Maybe...) I noticed an advert-style link at the bottom of the banking website. Apart from anything else, this position is one of the worst places to tuck important information as advert blindness tends to set in for anything placed in this part of a web page.

A&L

I'm a cynical git by nature - when I'm not off upsetting people, being embarrasingly drunk, or just being plain embarrassing - and decided to see what wonderous information the A&L were going to provide its customers that one can't already find out by reading any number of existing - and respected - websites (for example here, here, here, here ... etc).

The first thing to annoy me when I clicked the link was that it opened a new window. Not a major issue for most people, maybe, but I consider it bad manners to start popping up new windows on your visitors' computers unless you have a very good reason to do so.

The second annoyance - and this is the point where I decided I had to write a ranty blog entry about this - was the completely gratuitous 2-step entry process - first I was shown a picture of a safe, with some text fading in and finally a "[click here to] enter" link appearing in the middle of the safe's combination dial thingy:

A&L

... followed by an equally gratuitous animation of the safe opening:

A&L

... and after a few seconds, you're presented with this completely Flash-based website:

A&L

Very pretty, lovely... Just one question - why has someone gone to all the trouble to pay - probably a lot of money - to have a Flash website developed to do this, when a plain, boring - but just as pretty - HTML website would have done *exactly* the same job, been a lot cheaper to develop and bug-test, loaded faster, provided a much higher level of accessibility and user friendliness, and would (eventually) have found it's way into the Google indexes??

However, I ought to balance this argument out a little - the information in the site isn't completely crap, although it's extremely basic and does little to help people make use of the myriad free anti-virus and anti-spyware tools available on the net. Oh, and there's also a link to the security centre on the A&L online banking log-in page:

A&L

The only problem? Clicking on the link in Safari does nothing - the HTML is all there, but it won't do nowt. The mouse cursor doesn't even change when you hover over the link. That might have something to do with the fact even this little web page has more than 30 code errors, according to the W3C validation service:

A&L

Good going, A&L ;o)

The thing that really disappoints me about all this is that, while paying undoubtedly huge sums of money to their web developers to do work which looks like the production work of a ten year old learning how to use Flash, A&L's customer service still leaves a lot to be desired - my heart goes out to anyone who has to enjoy the less-than-pleasurable experience of dealing with their Leeds-based call centre if you're trying to get a charge refunded, or cancel a direct debit.

... And, no, I'm not just pissed off because they took

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