Yesterday I had the need for an expensive and seldom-used piece of electronic
equipment so I figured that hiring this device was the only economic option.
So I jumped on the Net and raced off to the website of
Tech Rentals to
see if they had the device I was looking for and to find out how much it
might cost to hire it.
What I found prompted me to add a small postscript to
yesterday's column in which I berated
the fact that this website
didn't work well (and
enough to be usable with Netscape.
I must say that I was impressed to find that almost within the hour, I received
a response from the company's Managing Director Gary Wicks.
Gary explained that the website wasn't a "big dollar" one and that it wasn't
maintained by a professional web designer but by a member of staff.
He went on to say that it wasn't really the staff-member's fault that the
site didn't work with Netscape -- it must be a problem with DreamWeaver
and so the programmers at Macromedia should be carrying the can for this
In closing, Gary said:
"As I haven't loaded netscape for several years, I can't
comment on the bugs you found, but like most Internet users
(who use IE), guess I'll never know."
21 percent of Net users still rely on good old Netscape as their preferred
browser. Tech Rentals must be doing very nicely indeed if they are unconcerned
about the impression their website gives to one fifth of those who might wish
to inquire online about their products and services.
Tech Rental's case is a sad one -- but unfortunately not an uncommon one.
Too many businesses believe that when it comes to creating an online presence
"she'll be right" and that they can get someone already on staff to "knock up"
a quick website using MS Word, FrontPage or whatever other tool happens to
be laying about.
What they fail to appreciate is that a bad website is often worse than no
website. If you can't do the job properly then please, please -- don't
damage your image and reputation by making a dog's breakfast of the whole thing.
Would you have the tea-lady design and print your company's promotional material
during her lunch break? Of course not. Would you allow the cleaner to
create those important quotes or proposals for new clients? Hell no!
So why oh why do so many businesses still think that it's okay to hand over the
task of creating your presence within an online community of nearly a million
Kiwis and 240 million others world-wide to someone with no training and little
experience in such issues?
But hang on -- don't these new HTML editors such as Dreamweaver or FrontPage
make the creation of a website a simple WYSIWYG affair that almost anyone can
No! While it's true that they make the creation of the HTML code which
describes the webpage at a computer-level much easier -- that is probably the
least important aspect of any website design. In the case of Tech Rentals
they clearly lacked the commonsense to test the resulting HTML code on
any browser other than Internet Explorer -- with entirely predictable results.
I must reiterate that although I have used TechRentals as a convenient example
in this case -- what I've said applies to all those businesses who have tried
to be clever and save a few dollars by "giving it a go" themselves.
If you really can't afford to have website professionally built then either
keep it very simple (just one page with a brief summary and contact details
is better than a "show-off site" that doesn't work) or hire someone to
check things out before you launch.
And no ... I didn't end up hiring that piece of equipment from TechRentals --
because their website wouldn't even give me access to a phone number.
I've just received another email from TechRentals who say they're installing
Netscape and intend to give the site a good once-over.
An excellent result -- at least this is a company which is addressing the
matter, which is more than many others do. Maybe I'll ring them and hire
that gear after all.
Not Just The Little Guys
As Telecom NZ conveniently proved yesterday, it's not just the little guys
operating on a tight budget who need to keep an eye on the details either.
If anyone could afford to configure their network to provide industry-standard
levels of redundancy you'd think Telecom could -- but oh no -- they appear
to have made exactly the same mistake as Microsoft made a few weeks ago --
a mistake that saw telecom.co.nz disappear from the face of the Net for
When are people going to start taking the Internet seriously I wonder?
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