Commerzbank : Standing the web on its head
Excessive use of PDF creates an old-fashioned experience.
Commerzbank, a large Germany-based financial services group, makes excessive use of PDF to provide basic and deeper level content.
Commerzbank’s site has 10 main sections but in many areas content goes no deeper than the secondary level and rarely beyond a third level. Where additional or more detailed information is offered it is usually in the form of PDF downloads.
In About us, Group information includes links on the Board of Managing Directors page to Profiles and Board memberships; both lead only to pages with an index of relevant PDF downloads. The group’s Corporate Responsibility Report is available only in PDF but provides more detail than the website; for example, both have the same text on Energy use, but the PDF also has reporting data and performance charts that the site does not. The latest Financial reports in Investor Relations are offered in PDF only and archived reports in both conventional PDF and a hybrid interactive version.
Commerzbank seems bound to a frame of mind that regards its website as a mix of electronic brochure and document library. Hence, most information journeys are short, ending in brief overview pages, or involve a switch to the more static and linear medium of PDF pages and reports for deeper and detailed content. Even where a web-based alternative is offered, such as the archived financial reports, it often turns out to be the not-quite half-way house of hybrid PDF, which is searchable but otherwise still has to be navigated page-by-page and is isolated from any other site content.
Such selective use of the web’s strengths is reminiscent of an earlier era and, while not quite in the Jurassic Park class, will surely strike site users – private individuals, job seekers and financial professionals alike – as old-fashioned if not downright quaint (board member profiles in PDF only?). It’s a view of German bankers that still has some currency, but surely not one that they themselves are wanting to project.http://www.commerzbank.com
First published on 10 April, 2008