Merrill Lynch's f**ked up website

28 March 2006   3 comments   Web development

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Don't ask me why but I today clicked a Google ad about IT jobs at Merrill Lynch. Not that I'm interested but I guess I was just curious to find out what this super-rich company has to offer in terms of IT technology. I guess what they need is a team of web developers. Here's why...

First of all, look at this screenshot. Apparently my browser is too crap for their website, but I know they're wrong. Firefox 1.5 is one of the fastest growing and most advanced browsers available. According to Google Analytics, about 30% of visitors of use Firefox. Granted that that site is geek oriented but more than 90% of my visitors are new ones who drop in through random Google searches. Out of curiousity I started the Windows machine we have at work to try the site there and when I reached the site I was horrified to know that there it does work in Firefox. Are Merrill Lynch Linux-haters? If so, let's continue complaining.

If you do a speed report on you find that their biggest document is a 52 kbytes CSS file followed by a 47 kbytes JS file. That's 54% of the total homepage weight. Contrast to which is less than 4% CSS + JS. I did a quick analysis of the JS file at just to find out that 14 kbytes is spent on just browser detection. Clever? With such a huge CSS file, is it really necessary to have 2.3 kbytes worth of inline style definitions?

A good website has good URLs (not just a good domain name). Look at a random newsitem URL on Think again!

At least the site's markup has a DOCTYPE but 14 nested <table> tags on the homepage is just not acceptable in year-numbers starting with a 2. Having 83 HTML validation errors is not OK either.

Come on guys, shape up or start again. This kind of f**ked up web development is not accessable for high profile companies like Merrill Lynch. Embarrasing.


Ben Mason
What's really funny is that in the screen shot it actually says firefox 0.8 and above!!
Chris West
ha ha - I did this on 'my' website at work. We got similar warnings in the same places but not to the same extreme as ML - eg. our overall page size is over but it says it would take 8 seconds to download, not 37!!
Chris West
...and I just noticed if you do it says your page will load in 71 seconds...worse than ML!????????
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