Schadenfreude: The Kindred Agency and Public Engagement

May 16, 2009 at 9:00 pm (Trivial) (, )

The latest Holford Watch post on the Science So What campaign includes details of an FOIA request. It includes this titbit: “Contractor – Kindred Agency”. A previous comment on another Holford Watch post was left by someone who stated that they “work for the agency that helps DIUS run the Science: [So what? So everything] campaign.” I assume that the agency referred to in this comment is the Kindred Agency.

Having taken issue with their views on the “impracticality” of adding links [Seriously – how impractical is it to add links? Why would the “demands of trying to reach a very broad target audience” or “limitations of space in having conversations in social media” make it impractical to provide appropriate links or citations? Can you tell that I’m still annoyed about this?], I am slightly ashamed to admit that I took some pleasure in viewing the website the Kindred Agency runs. Why? Well, it’s rubbish. Truly awful. It was so slow, I decided to time it. It took 45 seconds just to load the page [Grr – Flash Media]. By comparison, when I tried the badscience.net, holfordwatch.info, thinkhumanism.com/forum, and timesonline.co.uk pages, they all loaded in less than 12 seconds.

Even worse, when I tried to move from the Kindred Agency website to my blog, I found myself waiting with my PC whirring. For 1 minute and 45 seconds. I’m not sure how long it actually takes to switch between tabs when you’ve been looking at the Kindred Agency’s homepage, because 1’45 was as long as I could wait and at that point I closed the tab. I’m impatient, you see. And so are a lot of other people. That’s why googling for “faster internet speed” brings up nearly 10 million hits. That’s why people will go on websites to check their internet connection speed – and why they will pay more to get access to the internet that is quicker. I find it just a little ironic that the agency that chooses to share their wisdom on the “demands of trying to reach a very broad target audience” or “limitations of space in having conversations in social media” and the impracticability of adding links to webpages has a website that I would never willingly visit twice (except to time how ridiculously slow it was). I would go back and find more parts of the site to pick at but, frankly, it isn’t worth the time and frustration that viewing http://www.kindredagency.com would entail.

If anyone from Kindred reads this, they may like to take note of some of the points made by dreamtemplate.com:

Websites designed in their entirety using Flash, suffer greatly from poor download times, and can be unwieldy to program. From a commercial perspective, this is unacceptable. Visitors to a sight [sic] are unforgiving, and will migrate to a new one if it runs more efficiently.

14 Comments

  1. jonhw said,

    Excellent post – thanks. I was also impressed with Kindred’s informative message to users visiting the site without Flash running (or those using screen readers which can’t deal with flash): “// Provide alternate content for browsers that do not support scripting // or for those that have scripting disabled”.

    Classy web design :)

  2. alanhenness said,

    Hmmm…not a good advert for their prowess, is it?

  3. Neuroskeptic said,

    Their office is called “The Qube”. It seems to be some kind of office building that’s also a garden? Far out man…

  4. dvnutrix said,

    It’s a poor show for an agency that is supposed to bringing a message to a wider public to not walk the talk on accessibility on its own website.

    They may well have generated column inches in traditional media but the digital part of this campaign is sadly lacking.

  5. jdc325 said,

    @dvnutrix: “They may well have generated column inches in traditional media but the digital part of this campaign is sadly lacking.”

    To be honest, the “Science: So What” campaign only came to my attention when I read blog posts critical of it. I’d never previously heard of it.

    [This may reflect my habit of only regularly buying the Saturday edition of the Guardian – and a tendency to ignore the majority of the mainstream media unless I’m trawling for daft stories. To mangle Twain: I think I would prefer to be uninformed rather than misinformed.]

  6. jdc325 said,

    @Jon: “I was also impressed with Kindred’s informative message to users visiting the site without Flash running (or those using screen readers which can’t deal with flash): “// Provide alternate content for browsers that do not support scripting // or for those that have scripting disabled”.”

    Rather boringly, if I visit the KA website with Flash disabled I just get a Flash symbol but no message. I would have found “// Provide alternate content for browsers that do not support scripting // or for those that have scripting disabled” much more entertaining. I might have to experiment on different browsers.

  7. jdc325 said,

    @Alan: no, it’s not a great advert for them. Hopefully their new site (which, they assure us, is “coming soon”) will be an improvement on the current effort.

    @Neuroskeptic: I was a bit worried they might be chilly in winter but, according to the manufacturers, “The Qube can be used on the coldest winter day the UK can give us”. Which I found reassuring. This is the kind of thing I imagine Bill Bailey might like – linky. Personally, I think you can’t beat a wendy house. I actually write this blog from my modified wendy house. (It turned out that the ex-nuclear bunker near the local airport was a bit pricey.)

  8. jonhw said,

    They seem to have a new site up now. Less bad, imo, though chunks still don’t work without flash.

  9. jdc325 said,

    Definitely better wrt the time it takes to upload.

  10. jonhw said,

    Just been looking at Kindred’s redesigned site. The ‘Kindred promises’ part of the site simply refuses to run without Flash. In terms of marketing their services to prospective clients who use screen readers, this seems like something of a foot-bullet. Do their ‘promises’ include accessible design?

  11. jdc325 said,

    “Do their ‘promises’ include accessible design?”
    They don’t seem to.

    They promise every Kindred client that they will:

    #1 treat their budget as if it was our own money
    #2 give the best advice not jsut advice that suits what we’re trying to sell
    #3 be expert in what our audiences are talking about
    #4 produce ideas so good that they will spread
    #5 make working with us a pleasure for all

  12. jonhw said,

    At least they’re not over-promising, I guess ;)

  13. Science So What? So disappointing « Holford Watch: Patrick Holford, nutritionism and bad science said,

    […] about the accessibility of design from Kindred Agency – which set up the site – were raised some time ago).  ‘alt’ tags on images – very important for those using screen readers – […]

  14. jdc325 said,

    “At least they’re not over-promising, I guess”
    Heh, agreed – I very nearly said something similar this afternoon.

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