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  1. #1
    SitePoint Member TwoSmokingPunKs's Avatar
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    Question A matter of ethics?

    I think we can all agree that there are poorly written and bad pages out there.

    As cutting edge designers and developers, how do we go about "fixing" the broken pages out there? For example, my small rural community, which relies on tourism, has a visitors guide page that is broken. As a tech savvy, tech business owner, I feel that this is "bad press", if you will, and am wondering how to approach another local designer and tell them that their work is broken.

    Mostly I just want peoeple who look up our small town to know that we are not "off the grid", and are, in fact, up to date and modern.
    Brian "PunK" Ormond

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    Non-Member jake4974's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoSmokingPunKs
    I think we can all agree that there are poorly written and bad pages out there....
    Agreed
    Quote Originally Posted by TwoSmokingPunKs
    ...As cutting edge designers and developers, how do we go about "fixing" the broken pages out there?...
    Our views take radically different paths here. You describe yourself as tech "savvy" but that statement shows a distinct lack of an other type of "savvy". "Cutting edge"? You aren't talking about me or 99% of the people I know

    As to how to approach the situation try calling and saying "Hey beeyotcheses, your guide page is seriously effed up."
    Chances are, they are more concerned about the impressions of visitors than you are, and any offer of help not involving the word beeyotch will be gratefully received.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoSmokingPunKs
    my small rural community, which relies on tourism, has a visitors guide page that is broken.
    Do the owners of the business see it as broken??... If it's getting the job done, they don't care how xhtml complient it is, my friend.

    Quote Originally Posted by TwoSmokingPunKs
    approach another local designer and tell them that their work is broken.
    Bad idea... They'll hate you for this.

    Think of it this way... what if I came up to you and told you all your work is garbage and you're a moron and you should let me fix it for you because I'm smarter than you are... You'd want to knock my block off, wouldn't you??

  4. #4
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoSmokingPunKs
    As cutting edge designers and developers, how do we go about "fixing" the broken pages out there? For example, my small rural community, which relies on tourism, has a visitors guide page that is broken. As a tech savvy, tech business owner, I feel that this is "bad press", if you will, and am wondering how to approach another local designer and tell them that their work is broken.
    With all due respect, if you were a cutting edge, tech savvy business owner you wouldn't have this question at all. You'd either be in charge of the town's online presence or building something better instead of worrying about the other guy.

    Here's a tip that will nudge you one step closer to being business savvy: Pick your battles.
    The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods. — Socrates

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  5. #5
    Galactic Overlord gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shaun(OfTheDead)
    Bad idea... They'll hate you for this.

    Think of it this way... what if I came up to you and told you all your work is garbage and you're a moron and you should let me fix it for you because I'm smarter than you are... You'd want to knock my block off, wouldn't you??
    I don't agree that it's a bad idea at all. I think it's really important. If I had made mistakes on my site (technical, not aesthetic - that's personal taste) I would want to be notified. It comes down to the approach you take. I would send an email saying something like "I was just checking out your site on [whatever] and noticed that a couple of links are broken. You might want to check out [whatever]...".

    That comes across as helpful without being superior.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HAWK
    I would send an email saying something like "I was just checking out your site on [whatever] and noticed that a couple of links are broken. You might want to check out [whatever]...".

    That comes across as helpful without being superior.
    True... I guess it depends on how you say it too...

    Of course people are all different and yes you may have a calm attitude towards things, but then there are others who may get defensive... no matter how good the intentions.

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    Galactic Overlord gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shaun(OfTheDead)

    Of course people are all different and yes you may have a calm attitude towards things, but then there are others who may get defensive... no matter how good the intentions.
    Guess so. If you have no relationship with the person you are emailing then I'd go for it anyway. Nothing to lose...

  8. #8
    A Smarter Way to Web! zivo's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Take it to the owner

    Quote Originally Posted by Shaun(OfTheDead)
    True... I guess it depends on how you say it too...
    I have won business from another designer for a site when I pointed out to the client - not the designer - that their navigation did not work in Firefox!

    mp/m

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by zivo
    I have won business from another designer for a site when I pointed out to the client - not the designer - that their navigation did not work in Firefox!
    Really??... Were you aquainted with the client and were talking one day... or did you just e-mail them out of the blue??

  10. #10
    SitePoint Member TwoSmokingPunKs's Avatar
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    Thanks y'all. All good points that I later thought on. I must admit I was having a bit of a bad day when I originally posted this. I was fustrated with myself dealing with an SEO project, and was taking it out on the other guy. Yes. It matters to me that a leading page in the search engines I'm working to get on is garbage. Can I REALLY do anything about it? Maybe. It IS all in the aproach. SHOULD I do anything about it is an interesting question. I can see both sides here: don't aproach, cause I wouldn't want to get dissed, but I wouldn't mind a freindly "Yo' check this out, it might work better for you" once in a while I guess either. I also agree with Zivo
    I pointed out to the client - not the designer - that their navigation did not work in Firefox!
    It is up to the client. That would be where "competition" would come from. Actually, I'm not into steping on toes and competing, I'd rather just share the small bit of knowledge I've gined with others. Maybe contributing to a "better web" or something. At any rate I appreciate all the comments and the support these SitePoint forums offer.

    Thanks a bunch,
    Brian "PunK" Ormond

  11. #11
    SitePoint Guru OfficeOfTheLaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shaun(OfTheDead)
    Do the owners of the business see it as broken??... If it's getting the job done, they don't care how xhtml complient it is, my friend.
    Maybe he doesn't mean it's just badly structured or designed... that it is actually broken. I'm reminded of when I was going to move to a different city and wanted to look at some of the apartments they had in the area ... several of the apartment complexes had web pages with broken links, broken images, navigation that changes order on each page you're on, and 2047x1048 images scaled down to thumbnails using the height and width attributes on the img tag. Oh yeah, and despite the "best viewed in ie" icon, it didn't work well in ie anyway.

    I though, if they can't keep their webpage in good shape, I doubt they could keep their apartments in shape either.

    James Carr, Software Engineer


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  12. #12
    SitePoint Addict ikabon's Avatar
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    but as a designer you have the sense that your work is broken. so why still offer it?

  13. #13
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    You could ask him nicely how he approaches promotion when he starts to build a page, or, if you are already handling the SEO, if he would be willing to change the code to make it more SEO efficient (not the looks, just the code. He may take advantage of the changes and re-design the site, who knows? but that's up to him)

  14. #14
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    I wouldn't contact the designer, I would contact the client. Just send them a friendly note that you notices blah blah blah while you were on their site looking for (insert something here).

    I've done this before and have actually gotten work out of it without actually trying. I mean, I wouldn't go to them and say "All this stuff on your site is broken, but I can fix it for $XXX". I send them an email or give them a call, and I just tell them who I am or they see my signature in email. If they want to contact me about helping them fix the problem, that's up to them.

    I do usually include a little information about the problem that they can "send to their webmaster" though, lends to credibility. Also helps if the webmaster has absolutely no clue what you're talking about... you're almost guaranteed the work.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by beley
    I wouldn't contact the designer, I would contact the client. Just send them a friendly note that you notices blah blah blah while you were on their site looking for (insert something here).

    I've done this before and have actually gotten work out of it without actually trying. I mean, I wouldn't go to them and say "All this stuff on your site is broken, but I can fix it for $XXX". I send them an email or give them a call, and I just tell them who I am or they see my signature in email. If they want to contact me about helping them fix the problem, that's up to them.

    I do usually include a little information about the problem that they can "send to their webmaster" though, lends to credibility. Also helps if the webmaster has absolutely no clue what you're talking about... you're almost guaranteed the work.
    Nice . I am going to try this tactic sometime because many MANY local sites are broken in some way.

  16. #16
    Now available in Orange Tijmen's Avatar
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    Of course there will always be people who might be a bit offended that you confront them with a mistake that they made. However, the majority of the people will more then likely appreciate you taking the time to point out a couple things that should have been done in a different way. And who knows, they might ask you to fix it for them.

    I wouldn't have a problem with it if someone would send me a e-mail, telling me they found something that wasn't working they way it was supposed to on my website.
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  17. #17
    PHP/Rails Developer Czaries's Avatar
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    I hate to be cliche, but.... It's not what you say, but how you say it.

    Pointing out flaws in a website is not a bad thing, as long as you do it in a respectful and careful manner.

  18. #18
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    Since you're concerned about ethics, do you consider it unethical to know about a problem and not notify the other designer or is it unethical to point out the issue? There seem to be people on both sides.

    Quote Originally Posted by TwoSmokingPunKs
    how to approach another local designer and tell them that their work is broken
    I really don't think it is much of a big deal. Just tell them about the issue as if you were telling them in person. If it's not something you would point out to them in person, then forget about it.

    Quote Originally Posted by TwoSmokingPunKs
    Mostly I just want peoeple who look up our small town to know that we are not "off the grid", and are, in fact, up to date and modern.
    If that really is your goal, but you're still concerned whether it may upset this other local designer - you could always just email them semi-anonymously about the issue.
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  19. #19
    Non-Member Musicbox's Avatar
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    that is why everytime developers must develop website pages using headers and footers for pages using includes.

    you can go anytime at http://www.rentacoder.com and hire coders from various countries.

  20. #20
    SitePoint Wizard mcsolas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoSmokingPunKs
    As cutting edge designers and developers, how do we go about "fixing" the broken pages out there? For example, my small rural community, which relies on tourism, has a visitors guide page that is broken. As a tech savvy, tech business owner, I feel that this is "bad press", if you will, and am wondering how to approach another local designer and tell them that their work is broken.
    This is how I began my career as a web designer.

    I volunteered to help fix "their broken website" at a local organization call "Keep Brevard Beautiful". At the time, nothing about web design, Im just good at fixing computers and editing videos..

    They explain the problem and it turns out, their site was done, no one could upload it! On that day, on the phone with tech support, I learned what "FTP" was

    Typical hero for a day status. When I am leaving, the boss calls me into his office and says this: "I know you came here to volunteer your time today, but you did something really important for us, and I appreciate that." He then proceeded to write me a check for a hundred bucks. I took the hint and kept 'fixing broken websites'.

    Bad pages are very likely to be business opportunities.
    Often, these pages are bad because:
    a. no one bothered to do a better job
    b. no one can
    c. they did it already, but they cant upload it *

    * hey I know its not likely to happen again.. but what else can I say

    This could be an opportunity for you to build a relationship with the local area chamber of commerce. 6 years later, I have a list of clients I could trace back to the events set in motion from that day.

    Why not walk in and ask them about improving their website?

    If you do, dont tell them the site sucks, they are likely to tell you. Do not join this discussion, as you never know if the person who built the offending site is within earshot. Even if they already had a nice site, you could still find ways to improve it.. focus on what you can do to help.
    Last edited by mcsolas; Jul 27, 2006 at 14:48.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoSmokingPunKs
    I think we can all agree that there are poorly written and bad pages out there.

    As cutting edge designers and developers, how do we go about "fixing" the broken pages out there? For example, my small rural community, which relies on tourism, has a visitors guide page that is broken. As a tech savvy, tech business owner, I feel that this is "bad press", if you will, and am wondering how to approach another local designer and tell them that their work is broken.

    Mostly I just want peoeple who look up our small town to know that we are not "off the grid", and are, in fact, up to date and modern.
    I was in the same boat as you, small town (Watson Lake, Yukon Canada) run by tourism, no online pressence. So what did I do? I submited a proposal to town council outlining the problems with the current website, what can be done to improve the site, what said improvments can do for the town and the economy, and my prices. And now I am currently working on their new site, release date is set for August 15th.

  22. #22
    ~unplugged Ainslie X11's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adam.h
    I was in the same boat as you, small town (Watson Lake, Yukon Canada) run by tourism, no online pressence. So what did I do? I submited a proposal to town council outlining the problems with the current website, what can be done to improve the site, what said improvments can do for the town and the economy, and my prices. And now I am currently working on their new site, release date is set for August 15th.
    Nice score!

    It's funny how 'councils' seem to be at center of problems like this the worlds full of crappy council backed websites - almost one might guess someone at the 'council' awarded the initial contract to a family member or associate who knew 'nothing' about the web, I'm sure they all play the system six ways to christmas .. until a web savy person like yourself catches them in the act and forces things to be done properly.

    They'll be some low level office administrator out there hating your guts right now .. but good for you, and a pro proposal - even better!

    If I find crappy sites I usually email the validation results using the sites contact form. There's no point pussy footing around if there are errors then if there's time it's no harm pointing them out.

    Egos might get destroyed but that doesn't make the errors go away - good workmanship does, and people who do good work are the ones who should afford an ego


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  23. #23
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    If you email the webmaster directly, point out the exact problem, along with instructions to fix if they are short and simple. If you have checked the code, found the line and can see that $Variable is mistyped, TELL the webmaster exactly what is wrong, filename, line number and all! Even if the web site in question is pretty bad, check through the webmaster's portfolio and try to find a site you like... and also mention that site and what you like about it. Especially in a small town, there are tremendous advantages to making friends with your competitors. This is your chance.

    Be sure to avoid inadvertently sending the message "I'm cutting edge and you're not..." as it won't make you any friends with other webmasters or potential clients (that message can infuriate the webmaster and intimidate potential clients too). Even if you personally think all their web sites are badly done, now you will have somewhere to send extra potential clients who just want someone to update their current awful website.

    Any email you send to the client will also likely go directly to the webmaster so keep that in mind. Most of the time the client trusts their current webmaster more than you no matter what you tell them.

    If the entire site is really bad and it is old, I would go with the proposal approach if I were looking for more work.

  24. #24
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    Generally when I visit a web page I am trying to actually use the page for something. When the page is broken then I can't use it for its intended purpose and so I either look for an alternative site that provides the same resouces but which isn't broken or if there isn't an alternative site I contact the site owner and ask them to fix their site supplying them with specific info on what doesn't work and why (if I can tell the reason).
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  25. #25
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    Just a Friendly E-mail

    I usually just send them a friendly e-mail and leave it at that.


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