Wednesday, August 22, 2007

holy-bad-website batman 2

Sadly, it gets worse for Lincoln Cathedral [see previous entry] - the site is 'dynamic' and it works in IE, but not Firefox. See below. I'm grateful for the example for me to use when emphasizing to students/trainees/anyone-who-will-listen how important it is for web sites to run on all browsers.


Internet Explorer:

holy-bad-website batman 1

Web sites can be configured so that the 'www' is included in the URL, or not. Most are set up on one with the other redirecting to it - ie which ever you type in you get a web site. This one, however has gone down the route of configuring only one - sadly, this one is #1 in Google when you search on 'Lincoln Cathedral'.

Try it with the 'www' and you get this:

Not only is this bad web design practice - there is also the issue that Google [and some other search engines] only index one or the other - so isn't listed on Google. Could be quite an error when you consider how many De Vinci Code fans will have searched for it when the cathedral was used as a location in the movie of the book.

no-news-is-bad-news practice

File this one under 'always check to see everything is OK'. The error is probably a techie one somewhere along the line, but no matter how boring or mundane you may think it is, always check to see if your web site is actually online - and check it on various browsers. If you update pages infrequently this isn't going to take long, if you're a news site that is constantly changing it needs to be an ongoing task. Maybe if every member of staff had the site as their 'home' page someone would have picked this up before I did.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

good scam practice

I'm not sure whether this is good or bad practice. It is a scam - so it is bad. But compared to some that arrive in my in-box, this one is well performed. Here's the email:Note that the 'from' address looks real [the bad guys can do this fairly easily], and the message seems genuine [not full of spelling errors, as many are].

I am certain that if I clicked on the 'log in' button I would be taken to a similarly believable web page where I could enter my log in and password details - it might even ask me to confirm other personal details [eg my mother's maiden name] in the cause of this 'security check'.

So why am I so sure this is a scam?

Well, one thing is that the banks continuously tell us that they never practice this kind of thing.

But the killer is ... I don't have a Nat West account.

Monday, August 20, 2007

excellent customer-service-that-rejects-plaudits practice

I recently noticed a payment for £1.55 to Amazon on my credit card statement - as I have an order outstanding [waiting for availability on a new book] I assumed the that the payment was related to that order, so I fired off an email questioning it [I'll not mention that finding the 'right' contact page was tricky].

Within an hour I had a reply pointing out that the payment related to a different purchase where I had used a gift certificate, and the £1.55 was the sum over the value of the certificate.

Hmmm, 'plonker - that's my mistake', I thought, and sent an email back apologising for wasting their time, and thanking t
hem for the prompt response. Sadly, the following immediately appeared in my inbox:

Couple of points:
  1. I can appreciate that they need to keep incoming emails to a minimum, but what if I wanted to query their response?
  2. It must be a harsh place to work where you spend time dealing with idiots like me, but are denied the 'nice' stuff complimenting you for your efforts.
BTW - I was on - in the UK we spell 'cancelling' with two 'l's. Small point, but worth getting right.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

good-PR-bad-product practice has been around a while, but August 07 saw them 're-launch' after a deal with Ordnance Survey saw their entire database of street maps republished. The PR also included that its mapping service included aerial photography of almost all of the UK in fine detail - allowing you to pick out detail as small as garden furniure.

Well, Google's picture of our house is a couple of years old, and we have done a lot of work on our garden, so off I went to find 192's picture of our garden furniture. And here it is:
Or rather, here is a picture of the foundations of our house on the building site that was our estate around four years ago. Now, given that I know this is years out of date am I likely to use to look at anywhere I have never visited before? Would I confidently book a hotel based on its surroundings in a picture? Erm no. Have I bookmarked No. Have wasted a lot of money marketing a product that does not live up to its own hype?
You decide.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

poor merchandising-and-more practice

I use a laptop at home - and it's not much good for use as a word processor [bad for your neck/back]. So I thought I'd look for a really cheap PC. One site I arrived on was The 'computing' link on the front page took me to a page that gave me this choice:You will note that 'monitors' has its own section - so I assumed that 'PC and monitor' would be combinations of the two. 'Fraid not - the first seven listed under 'home PCs' were PCs without monitors. Harrumph. But it got worse. Take a look at the page presented [below].

Yep - that's 'sold out' on the first two [the cheapest] and a broken image on the third. The image - or lack thereof - speaks for itself. But the 'sold out'? Its funny, when I was in retail, we often had customers come in and say "that is cheaper at X", so we'd say "why not go buy it there?" - and they'd say "X is out of stock". "Oh", we'd say "that's funny, when we are out of stock ours are MUCH cheaper than X". In other words, if you ain't got it, don't flaunt it.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

poor geography

I'm sorry - I'm back with KLM again. Not only do they not seem to be learning, they're getting worse. Usual thing, email message promoting cheap flights. The subject line in this one was:So I clicked on the link, and found this - Amsterdam for less than £100 isn't bad, so I clicked on the link: [note - I'm not even going to start on that link text]:
Which took me to this:
Need I say [again] - I have only ever flown with KLM from Newcastle - because I live just down the road. Heathrow is two hundred and odd miles away, hardly my 'local' airport. Harrummmph.