BNP Paribas : Stopping time

A timeline appears frozen in the moment.

click to view

The feature

BNP Paribas, a France-based financial services group, presents its history timeline in such a way as to appear frozen in the moment. BNP Paribas’ About us section carries features about its history within a Corporate culture sub-section. On both the English- and French-language versions of the site the History landing page includes a timeline feature under the heading Milestones in the History of the Group (_Les Grandes Dates de l’Histoire du Groupe_). This has a date slide and shows pop-up ‘teasers’ for three Events in the date range covered by the current position of the slide (2003-2009). The feature is, however, a static graphic and not an interactive display. Clicking any part of the graphic opens a larger version of it in the Major Events sub-section of History under the heading The BNP Paribas Group Through the Years. Here the date slide is set to cover 2008-2014 and the feature is interactive: the slide can be moved using click-and-drag, while on click Event pop-ups launch layover panels that carry a short report of the chosen milestone.

The takeaway

On close examination of BNP Paribas’ History landing page it is possible from the quality of the image to identify the Milestones graphic as a screenshot. Few of those navigating their way to the page are likely to spot this, though, without the benefit of hindsight, if then. The style of presentation, the heading, the context and the scale of the graphic all play to the expectation that here is an interactive timeline like many another. Only as users instinctively try to navigate the feature and find it resistant to interaction will they realise its behaviour is not as it seems. What they are expected to do – and may stumble into doing – is click the graphic to launch the real ‘all singing’ timeline. The extra step needed to get to the real feature is both unnecessary and confusing, It could even deter visitors from reaching the interactive display if they assume the initial behaviour of the page indicates a fault with either the site or their browser. Even if BNP Paribas wants to preserve the sanctity of the landing page as a preview vehicle it needs to correct the current misrepresentation, at the least with a ‘click through to view’ caption.
First published 23 October, 2012
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