One day, a month or so ago, I was assigned to help a client renew their domain name. After digging up the website that our client registered their domain name at, I promptly went to browsing it (It’s always a good idea to get familiar with a website or application before attempting to guide a client through it). To my surprise, the site looked broken! When I say broken, I don’t mean that it needed someone to take the time to make it look better (See Example), I mean nothing was styled.
Was I to tell our client to trust his credit card on that site? Not at all.
When I see a website in that state, I see a company that doesn’t care about its online image. After all, if your website isn’t styled and you don’t ever notice it, you probably aren’t checking up on it. Much like chinchillas, websites need regular time spent with its caretaker, lest you want a disheveled website that is hungry for content and off-putting to people.
The other thought that immediately popped in my mind was “Phishing”. Phishing can mostly be described through the word it sounds identical to (fishing, fyi): getting something good by dangling imitation bait. In the case of phishing, the “something good” is personal information and the “imitation bait” is a website that is made to look like a legitimate website. Granted, the site didn’t look like a professional and legitimate site, but phishers usually set up these sites as passive income generators and don’t spend time maintaining their bait (citation needed). Either way, it looked shady.
I probably ignore most websites that look broken, but this was a domain name registrar; Their business is the Web! If that wasn’t bad enough, I needed to confidently tell my client to enter his credit card on that broken site. Not happening. So I told the client how I felt about the website and that I’d be contacting their tech support to figure out if their site is safe to use (CSR side note: He appreciated this).
I promptly emailed the registrar’s tech support and voiced my concerns politely (Remember, they are people too). The registrar’s developer responded, “It is messed up, but you can still use it.” After a little discussion, I felt confident that this wasn’t a trap, though a little off-put by his response. I gave the client a thumbs up, he renewed his domain name, and I haven’t heard anything from him regarding credit fraud (yet?).
A week later, I already forgot about the broken site (not much to remember, right?), until I received another email from the registrar’s developer. He thanked me for pointing out the issue with their website and informed me that everything is fixed. His last words were “I appreciate your letting me know.” I don’t know if he was putting on a CSR show for his boss, but I’ll say that programmers of all kinds should feel at least somewhat appreciative of users pointing out something broken.
So do a random person a favor and tell them if their site looks broken.