Summertime means summer foods. I love stuffing my face with hamburgers, brats, hot dogs and roasted potatoes at every opportunity. Each of these treats absolutely requires ketchup. While I grew up on Heinz, Indiana is famous for Red Gold. In the spirit of summer fun and games, I’d like to pit the ketchup homepage of Heinz against the homepage of regional champ Red Gold in a web design challenge.

As in previous website wars, I’ll be looking for smart placement of calls to action (CTAs), clear communication, and eye-catching visuals. A score out of five is awarded in each of the following areas: CTAs, Navigation and Beauty. Let’s get the party started with a review of the Heinz ketchup site.

Heinz Ketchup

My first impression here is that it’s under construction. It’s not a pretty site. The large homepage image adds motion and some visual interest, but there’s no clear identification of the navigation bar, just a row of text floating there in the white. And the most apparent calls to action seem like randomly chosen topics.


Calls To Action – 2/5

A good web design plans for at least one area where buttons and CTAs can be placed. This Heinz site is actually a pretty standard layout, but the choice of CTAs is puzzling. The left and right most CTAs are for a seasonal promotion and cool product news, no problems there. The second to the left CTA links to an interactive shopping cart. Unfortunately, a dull graphic of a ketchup bottle fails to convey the fun and usefulness of the page it links to.

Next is an over-wrought plea to engage on Facebook. Here’s where I really put my foot down. That Facebook graphic is now both boring and out of date. Even the official Facebook badge is more exciting. I would create a custom graphic that linked to fun content on their Facebook page, like a contest or special landing page. Rather than plead for Likes, Heinz should draw people in with exclusive content.

Navigation – 3/5

This navigation is unassuming, straightforward and totally functional. It’s so unassuming that it actually obscures the best parts of the site. Recipes and the Grown, Not Made Story are good destination pages and I’d never know they were there. They deserve a more prominent navigation bar design or dedicated CTAs somewhere else on the site.

Beauty – 1/5

There is one good thing here. That Heinz bottle made of fresh sliced tomatoes is a winner. I’ve seen it used in other Heinz marketing in years past, but the concept is really enduring and the execution is strong. Too bad everything else here looks so plain. Maybe they were going for minimalism, but this site just looks incomplete, or worse, broken.

Red Gold Tomatoes

Red Gold is a smaller company, so they don’t have a fleshed-out site for just ketchup. So we’ll be scoring the Red Gold brand homepage, which includes other canned tomato products. On first glance, I’m impressed by the concise and immediate communication of the brand’s mission. While the trend in website headers has been to go smaller, I think the simplicity of the combined header and main homepage image makes sense for a product as simple as tomatoes.


Calls to Action – 3/5

Immediately below the header/main image you’ll find two CTAs, one for a current promotion and the other a recent recipe. Excellent choices. I really like the recent recipe CTA since it lets the recipe image do all the hard work of making me hungry. No need for flashy graphics, just show me the food. And it makes sense to reserve the other spot for events and promotions.

The text in the Run to Crush Hunger graphic doesn’t fit quite right though. Whoever designed it for them didn’t coordinate with their website team to understand what they were designing for. As a result, this graphic under-utilizes the space and feels awkwardly shoehorned in.

Navigation – 3/5

Nothing special here. Just one gripe: The Home navigation item has a miscellaneous collection of items in its drop-down menu. Some of it’s pretty cool, like the Recipe How-to Videos and interviews with farmers. This content should be grouped with other similar pages elsewhere in the navigation bar, rather than mysteriously listed under “Home.”

Beauty – 3/5

This website scores for keeping things simple. It’s not Apple-sleek, but the homepage is skinned with basic shapes and colors that reappear throughout the site so I always recognize what’s a title, what’s body copy and what’s a special call-out. All the heavy lifting to convey the brand is done by the prominent header and a few custom tomato-based graphics. And these few, key elements are done well.

That being said, it doesn’t blow me away. I’d like to see something that felt more polished. The background image may have been the best the designers had to work with, but I can tell it’s pixelated. The wrap-around banner style call-outs and headings are a little overused as well.

Final Scores

Heinz: 6/15

Red Gold: 9/15

Red Gold won because it felt welcoming, complete, and simple. It matched my expectations of quality and usefulness, whereas Heinz fell short. How does your website reflect on you? Has anyone told you lately that they hate your website?

Let us know what you think about Heinz and Red Gold in the comments.