IBM web site shame

9 PM January 6, 2005

For a company that makes its money selling business integration products and services, IBM sure has a long way to go.

Take their web site, for instance. I am downloading IBM‘s new IDE, Rational Software Architect. Because of bad design and poor integration, it took me half an hour to register a login that would allow me to begin. I am hoping IBM‘s web people will read this, so I’ll use little words and bullet points.

  • I used to have a login with the IBM website. I’ve registered at least twice before – three or four times, I think – but IBM has a new registration system which apparently required throwing away all the data I’d previously entered. It would have been nice if they’d ported the data over.
  • After it had dawned on me that I needed a new account (there was a message but it got lost in the web page clutter) I looked for a “create new account now” link to click, but sadly, the first thing I saw was the “My Account” link, so I clicked it and was taken to a page that told me I had nothing in my shopping trolley. From there I clicked something else, and was guided though creating a login that turned out to be useless for downloading software.1 There are two separate user registration systems on,2 and registering on the wrong one won’t help. It may be that IBM is a morass of inter-departmental turf wars, but they shouldn’t inflict those turf wars on their customers.3
  • Anyway, I enventually registered on the right system, filling in every single one of the required fields. I then went back to the software download page where this saga had started, selected my download, logged in when asked, and was then informed:
Your profile is missing information that is required by this offering. Please CLICK CONTINUE BELOW, THEN LOG IN AGAIN WITH THE SAME USERID, CLICK CONTINUE, THEN UPDATE YOUR PROFILE. You will eventually be returned here to continue with this offering. Note that if you have gotten this error for the second time, you may have used a different userid when logging in to update your profile. If so, please click 'sign out' and then try again, being certain to use the same userid you logged in with initially. If you do not remember what id you used initially, close your browser and re-open it, then log in again. Another reason you may still be getting this error is you may not have clicked 'continue' on the next page and completed the update of your profile. Please be sure to keep proceeding by clicking 'continue' when it is presented, and do not back up or you will not correct the situation which is stopping you now.

Shame, shame, shame, IBM. Shame, shame, shame.

1 Despite the fact that at the end of the registration process, the site proclaimed that I was “now registered with”. Oh well. It gave me a nice warm feeling at the time.

2 I’ve only encountered two recently. I suspect that there are more.

3 The content of this last sentence may be bleeding obvious to you, but some people at IBM need it spelt out.

By alang | # | Comments (3)
(Posted to Rants, Software Development and javablogs)


At 00:37, 07 Jan 2005 Daniel Sheppard wrote:

When I worked in tech support here and our hardware was mostly IBM, I had to make frequent visits to their site. I'm glad those days are over.

The search functionality would only search the current zone of the site, and which zone you were in was never really apparent. Sometimes there'd be two search dialogs on difference parts of the page, neither of which was well labelled and which would return completely different results.

The site would change around on a monthly basis, and expired links would never be redirected to the new locations. I could never bookmark anything lest it be moved on me, and the steps I'd taken to reach that page could rarely be reproduced.

I'll stop ranting now and go back to my happy place.

At 02:12, 07 Jan 2005 Ryan Ackley wrote:

100% agreement, all of their websites are mazes. Anytime a find a nook with useful information I feel like I've won a prize or something.

At 11:52, 07 Jan 2005 Darren wrote:

All large company sites are appalling.
It used to take me half an hour to download the JDK from Sun (it's improved a lot now).


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