Henkel  : Stopping the world

Animation halts interest in its tracks.

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The feature

Henkel, Germany based consumer and industrial products group, makes an ill-judged attempt to enliven a report’s home page.

Henkel presents its recently released Sustainability Report 2013 on a standalone website with selective links to it from theglobal site. The report’s home page is headed by a full-width globe of Earth that begins revolving anti-clockwise on launch. As the globe spins, a succession of place markers (white cross on red square) is revealed on the various continents. The motion of the globe can be stopped either by clicking directly on it (an accurate ‘hit’ on a marker is not needed) or from stop/start buttons positioned to the left of the animation.

When a marker is clicked it triggers the launch of a pop-up panel with a photograph, location identification and a summary of activity. A ‘more’ link opens a viewing overlay that offers a carousel of further photographs and summaries in which the ‘more’ button opens a detailed information page in the report. The page includes a miniature, fully functioning replica of the globe animation in its left-hand column that returns users to the report home page on click.

The takeaway

While Henkel’s animated location feature is in one sense ‘earth stopping’ it is also far more likely to turn off visitors to its sustainability report than it is to provide the extra boost to their engagement that must be in the thinking behind it. The use of animation here is misguided: as well as seeming almost antiquated in concept: it enhances neither the usability nor the immediate interest of the feature. What incentive is there for anyone to play the simplistic stop-and-search ‘game’ required to gain access to the information? And what value is added if they do (answer: none). On the other hand, its capacity to annoy users – especially those already interested in Henkel’s sustainability record – far outweighs any potential it has to draw people on to the information. The absence of an accessible non-animated alternative is a further disincentive.

Even on its own terms the feature is let down by poor execution. There is, for example, no sub-heading or introductory text to indicate what information is being offered or the significance of the marked locations. Visitors may draw the right kind of conclusions from the clues available, but that’s another game they really shouldn’t have – or can’t be expected – to play.

First published 25 March, 2014
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