|Page under construction – Every website is a work in progress, there is no need to state the obvious. The only thing these ‘under construction’ pages do well is attract attention to the fact that the webmaster was too lazy to complete the task.
Case in point: the official police.gov.il website whose emergercy lines [sic] page in English kindly asks you to wait for its construction. [Now fixed]
|IE only website – the unspoken rule amongst lazy webmasters is that if a website looks nice in Internet Explorer – that should suffice. This leads to websites with shoddy codes that don’t show up well on other browsers.
Case in point: the Airport Authority’s official website iaa.gov.il would occasionally flat out refuse to serve visitors with ‘incompatible’ browsers.
|Recommended screen resolution – a classic relic of the nineties, this is a continuation of the notion that a website looking fine on the webmaster’s screen is enough. Can you imagine someone changing their screen resolution in order to view a website properly?
Case in point: apparently the Ministry of Communications’ website moc.gov.il imagines your doing just that!
|A bunch of links – back when websites were in the thousands and search engines were being built, we relied on the last website to direct us to the next one, as visiting websites was the end – not the means. But that was then…
Case in point: The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor worries you may be lost, and so they post on moital.gov.il a whole buncha links, including a link to their own website!
|Clip art overdose – before website design was a profession, style or taste were not a prerequisite and so a renaissance of ‘functional’ (read: hideous) websites ensued. Taking a generic photo and making it into a button was common practice back then.
Case in point: The Ministry of Defense trying to get away with a generic handshake image on their mod.gov.il homepage. [Now fixed]
|Congratulations, it’s a portal – when the virtual world was shiny and new, people thought if they’re already inventing a new image why not call their site a ‘portal’, a gateway to the internet, as this might fool visitors into thinking it is bigger and more important than it really is.
Case in point: bestlife.co.il is not a tiny website but a ‘Best Life Portal’, an entrance to a world of knowledge.
|Make this your homepage – dot-com era delusions of grandeur: my site is not just important, it is so relevant to your life that I will make it easier for the scores of people flocking to make it their homepage – and add this button.
Case in point: the Ministry of Environmental Protection thinks sviva.gov.il is where the citizenry start their day.
|e-shops with foggy ‘About’ pages – Unlike the real world where customers can easily evaluate the store they entered, there are precautionary steps that online shoppers must take, like noticing an ‘About’ page with the company’s vision but no physical location or phone number.
Case in point: With zero real-world details, shoptime.co.il puts customers at the company’s mercy. [Now closed]
|e-shops without prices – a relic of an era when customers had no power and comparison shopping meant calling stores hoping they don’t have a no-quoting-prices-over-the-phone policy. These businesses may as well put up a banner saying: ‘You will pay more here!’
Case in point: galcontrol.com wants you to call them, coz you can’t get the nice-face discount while browsing online.
|Companies using free hosting – Multimillion-dollar businesses that refuse to shell out 5 bucks a month for a self-hosted website, settling for a free service, here today, gone tomorrow.
Case in point: stockelectric.fav.co.il, the online presence of Stock Electric, which must have spent all their money on offices and warehouses and trucks, or they would have enough for a permanent online address. [Now closed]
Back so soon? Good. Here are my new observations:
Webmaster Knows Best
Many websites may give you what you want, but they will do it on their terms. One example for that is the Israeli Post who will let you query about a registered parcel, but will make it impossible for you to bookmark the query in order to execute it later.
Another example is a popular cooking show that publishes its recipes online but will only let you print them out or see one recipe at a time, as their webmaster must not have heard of tabbed browsing or multi-tasking – but he sure loves his URL masking.
Other webmasters try to disable your right-clicking so that, god forbid, you would not save one of their images without prior written consent. Obviously this method does not work as each graphic file you see online is saved on your computer whether you asked for it or not.
My general feeling about this subject is that while all these companies and organizations are making use of the internet, they do not really understand its underline basis of sharing information.
If I Tell You Its Price You Will Know How Much It Costs
This is an illness well embedded in the Israeli business culture from way before the internet, but it seems the net is just another platform for companies to carry the fog of war to. For years whenever you would call a local store to inquire about a price of a whatchamacallit, the reply would always be ‘we don’t give out prices over the phone’. I always assumed the aim of this method is to lure you to the store without comparing prices first – but in this day and age, when you can compare prices in a Zap – I only have to wonder what on earth makes these shopkeepers stick with their shtick.
Storefronts And Fronts For Stores
One of the many unwritten rules of the internet is: if you are not showing it – you must be hiding it. Whether it is a website for a hotel, a college or a computer store, if you do not elaborate on the people behind the establishment, if you do not show photos of the facilities – the assumption is that you have something to hide.
Back in the days of real-life stores, you would only need to step inside to see if this is a place where you might want to do business, but nowadays when everyone can have a great website, the only way to know if you are stepping into a storefront or just a front for a store – is the ‘About Us’ section. Many Israeli websites do not list names of people, a physical address, or a photo of the place, in an attempt to disguise the fact that this ‘well established business’ is run by two fourteen year old kids who may or may not send you the USB cable you ordered, as they might be grounded by their mommy and cannot get to the post office.
While all the Israeli bloggers have jumped on the RSS bandwagon, having seen how important this syndication tool is to knowledge-seekers, it seems that most Israeli websites have no idea what RSS is. Oddly enough, while many of these websites want you to sign up for their newsletter, they are unwilling to lift a finger to facilitate the needs of those who might be interested in the content but not so much interested in divulging private email addresses in the process of getting content.
May I Freshen That For Ya?
The ubiquitous usage of automatic-refreshing of webpages might not amount to click fraud but it sure is annoying. Many news websites (example #1, #2, #3) assume their readers are morons who would not be able to refresh the page, and so they do it for them. With a single line of code, they force every one of their readers’ browsers to retrieve the page again after a predetermined amount of time (usually 5 minutes). While using this method might make some sense on the always-changing main page of the website, it makes absolutely no sense when done on pages of individual articles. For users who use tabbed-browsing and open a number of articles they want to read in different tabs, the experience of reading an article and just when you are in the middle of it having it ‘magically’ refresh itself is a pet peeve.
As many of you might be reading this in Internet Explorer, you should be aware of the fact that other browsers offer the user the option to automatically refresh any webpage he desires.