How To Create a Dysfunctional Website

In preparing for an upcoming presentation on how to create functional websites, and it’s got me thinking about all the dysfunctional sites I’ve seen recently. There’s no single feature that makes a website completely unusable, but there definitely are trends.

Below, divided into three categories, are the chief gaffes you should follow if you really feel like creating a website that doesn’t work.

Stellar Idea for Taking Donations

Asking for monetary support should be integrated into every website belonging to a non-profit, synagogue and church. But there are other ways to let your members give than just writing a check. Web developer Jeff Robbins had a great idea you can replicate for your charitable organization. He has developed a slew of tools for web developers for free, but for those who want to show their gratitude, he created an Amazon wish list full of tools and trinkets from all price ranges that he wants or needs:

Word Watch: Crawlability

Crawlability: n. a measure of the ease with which a website may be scanned by a search engine robot. This is one bit of jargon worth learning. It has a big impact on a site's search engine rankings. Three things you can do to improve your site's crawlability:
  1. Add a hierarchical sitemap
  2. Use descriptive URLs everywhere (i.e., pages should called about-us.html or driving_directions.html. Or better yet, get a CMS to do the hard work for you.)
  3. Make sure titles and headings reflect the site's most important elements

Working Your Out-of-Office Reply While You're Away

Many people will take the time to set a simple auto-response to go out when someone writes them an e-mail. It's usually something like "I will be out of the office until Tuesday, 4/14. If necessary, I can be reached at ..." Talk about a missed opportunity! Why not get a little fancy with this message and do a bit of promotion while you're at it? After all, you have to write something there anyway, how about adapting one of these lines for your next out-of-office reply:

    3 Things You Can Do To Streamline Your Production

    A publisher asked me the other day for advice on how to pare down the number of programs, software and tools his company uses. He is using a graphics program, a workflow program, a listserv and websites – that’s just what I know about. There’s probably more, including programs that handle subscriber databases, mailing lists, invoicing, purchasing and heaven knows what else. He’s desperately looking for a way to streamline the number of programs he has to deal with in a day.

    What the Heck Does RSS Mean?

    I wish the acronym "RSS" had never been invented. It’s confusing, hard to describe and something everyone wants to understand. I much prefer the term "news feed" for this technology that helps you get blog and podcast updates on your computer. Nevertheless, I was glad to see that Unclutterer wrote up a handy primer on the term. It’s still a bit jargon (they use the term "content" a little too freely. Think of "content" as the stuff on your website, such as articles and listings), but still helpful.

    FWTB Word Watch: Ping

    Recently, someone from a UK firm putting together a glossary of social media jargon asked me to contribute. The world of social media jargon is immense, but I realized I've been hearing the word "ping" in a sense that didn't really make sense to me. Ping, v. This is something you send to a computer for an automated response. I've heard it (erroneously) as a synonym for "e-mail" or "instant message." You can look at more social media jargon from their glossary.

    Free Phone Service from Google

    If you use GrandCentral for free phone call service, you’ll be happy to hear Google is releasing Google Voice. It’s only open to GrandCentral users currently, but will be open to a wider audience soon.

    A few highlights of Google Voice:

    • A single number to ring your home, work, and mobile phones
    • Voicemail
    • Transcripts of your voicemail
    • Archive and search text messages you send and receive

    Check out the features to see how it works: