The Tech Remix

A tech blog by Hassan ‘the IT guy’

24 Things We Should Avoid - A Trinidad Web Developer Perspective

I chose a variety of 20 websites from Trinidad (no names called) and made notes of some of the problems that I found. The aim is that we learn from this and try to not repeat these and any amount of discussion on this would be welcomed. Feel free to contact me if you want me to review your website and online presence. I encourage you to have an independent and critical somebody review your website and online presence. This was just me and a couple of days to write a blog post. Imagine if you paid to do this periodically and it does not have to stop there. I did not look at stuff like sql injection and other types of testing that would require me to get permission. Additionally, more feedback can be given with access to the backend and understanding your aims and objectives.

  • Password protect our sandbox. The last thing we want is Google linking to our test website and persons using that.
  • Repetition in the domain name. Why would I create this domain? We already know that you are from Trinidad with the .tt. One advice for creating domain names is brevity for sharing and remembering and typing.
  • Twitter is not Facebook. Do not cross post to Twitter with a link (or only a link) back to Facebook especially exclusively. It is annoying and defeats the purpose and design of Twitter and it makes us look lazy and can’t be bothered especially when words are cut off because of the 140 character limit.
  • Protect admin and login and private areas with https and other measures like two factor authentication. Rename the admin space if you can e.g. and restrict access to IP address or through VPN login. Nothing is foolproof but we can aim for more layers of security.
  • Telephone numbers on our websites should be clickable especially in this mobile first time.
  • Content should be indexable, searchable, linkable, and mobile friendly. It is ok to have a flip page version of our magazine or content but this should be linked back to our CMS and some flip page platforms allow for these features.
  • Email addresses that don’t work or contact forms that don’t send me a copy of my message sent and even contact forms without any validation. Contact forms are preferred because they are better at fighting SPAM but email addresses are more convenient. Also contact forms can capture specific information and can feed into workflows. We should schedule periodic reviews of our online spaces and check for broken links, outdated content, invalid email addresses and the likes.
  • Review our source code for things that the public should not know of. I have seen commented out items that really should not be public and for example should be hidden with server side commenting if you must leave it in the source code. Related - check console and logs for javascript and other errors, client and server side and disable debugging for the public.
  • Organisations that don’t fart on their social media and other messages. You are horrible. If you don’t want to respond to messages then don’t make it available and state somewhere prominently (or auto respond) that you can only respond to phone calls or whatever channel.
  • There is no excuse for bad and haphazard design. Too many good design options are available. Utilise independent beta testers, reviewers, focus groups and the likes. What would your 10 year old techie nephew say about your website? And related, don’t sacrifice quality for quantity or cost or whatever especially when we know that we can afford quality.
  • Stock photos that do not represent your audience. Again it makes us look lazy, can’t be bothered, not serious and it is a distraction and detached from our reality. If you are selling mortgages then I want to see a Trinidad house in a Trinidad setting with Trinidad looking people. The marketing people can probably explain this better than me but it seems the obvious thing to do.
  • URLs should be friendly for SEO and users - instead of
  • Social media share buttons especially twitter that only includes the link and not the title and even the twitter handle. These types of things can be discovered when we properly test all aspects of our websites.
  • Indiscriminate use of hashtags and hashtags that add little value.
  • Things just don’t work which tells me that proper testing was not done and also are they getting any feedback that things don’t work? I forget, they are too important to respond to their social media messages and could not be bothered. I visited a big government ministry website. The menu apart from having too many things in it just doesn’t work on mobile and parts of it are not accessible on desktop. Mind you, this is their new website that took them months to develop. On that same website there is no paging on search results and the search is showing items from another domain that is no longer online. How can you miss obvious things like this if proper testing was done? It might be better to have a small and manageable website (at least to start with) if that is all that you can handle and don’t bulk copy content when selecting what is relevant and needed just takes a little more effort.
  • Search for your organisation and related terms and see what shows up. I once searched for a company and Google had it tagged as being hacked. Also, if you have switched domains then develop a simple redirect from the old domain to the new domain. Related - Claim your business on Google Business.
  • We are in 2017 and you still have © 2010 on your website? Why? I read that copyright notice is not required but it can deter persons from snipping your content without permission. Why not make it dynamic?
  • A common practice in other places is to purchase related domains and mispellings. I don’t see that happening in Trinidad. If you are a big brand I think you can afford to do this and if the amount of traffic to those related domains are enough then you can justify keeping them.
  • Don’t just copy and paste formatted text. Spend a few minutes and copy the unformatted text and format properly and consistently for your website. The amount of garbage markup that gets copied if for example you just copy from a Word document.
  • If you developed an app, why is your app listed in the app store under someone’s name and not your organisation?
  • A logo is not a sign. A logo is very simple and very basic and easily recognisable. Your logo does not have to include your company name. Related - don’t forget to include your own favicon for your website.
  • Don’t flood your homepage and website structure with tons of items that means the pages take long to load. Encourage website visitors to use your search to find what they are looking for. Emphasise search and make it obvious. Visitors should also know that they can contact you if they cannot find what they are looking for.
  • Avoid this date format 09/01/2017. Remember your website is open to the world. Is this the 9th of January or the 1st of September?
  • Preview image when sharing should match the image from the article firstly or no image or a generic placeholder if the article has no images. This especially applies to media houses.

I will follow-up with things I like and that I think others can emulate from looking at some other local websites. Positive feedback gives encouragement and let’s us know what we should keep doing. Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.