Saturday Evening Post

So, I have to ask…How did it feel to get back to normal? Yes, yes. I know. Normal is in the eye of the beholder. But after a week of guest posts and then a week where I was AWOL, how was it to return the the features routinely sporting on M3? Grab a cuppa and snuggle in for a brief update and something Clyde wants to ask.

Numbers and Bandwidth

New visitors are joining the M3 Reader ranks everyday. Users are up, and not just the ones coming to download the pictures (or steal bandwidth). Real, live, web surfing…wait, what?

Oh, when you use the “From URL” choice for pictures, you are stealing bandwidth from the owner of the blog or website who hosts the picture. The web owner of the picture does not get a hit when your blog loads, but the owner does get a bandwidth drain because while someone is viewing the picture on your blog, the owner’s host is powering the picture…on your blog.

If you are not paying monthly for hosting your own website, you might wonder why this matters…Have you ever been to a site which is lightning quick one day and slower than January molasses in Montana the next (or worse…the same day)? This is because hosts power websites based on the demand of the visitors. When someone who is not on the actual site is pulling from it, it is the exact same thing as running an extension cord from your neighbor’s house to power yours.

If you do not have one of your own, find a photograph or graphic which is royalty and copyright free and download it to your computer and upload it to your blog. Or find one which is attributable, download it, upload it and give the credit which is due. Do not steal bandwidth.

Polls and Free Things

This week’s poll may have you wondering where M3 is heading. Please do take it. Answer all which apply. If you already voted, but have additional answers, put them in now. M3 is headed somewhere.

A few of the Writer’s Spotlight authors have been gracious enough to supply their books to me, either free or deeply discounted. M3 is going to be running a few book giveaways over the next few weeks. If you would like to have a spot to have a giveaway, email for the whys and wherefores. It is all leading up to…

T3

T3 is in the final production stages. All I have left before it goes live and into print is my catalog number from the Library of Congress. If anyone is willing to do pre-production reviews, scream in the inbox for an advance copy. I am offering the PDF to the first ten who wish to review it.

What is T3? Taming the Terrible Twos: A Parents’ Survival Guide is an interesting look into how the Terrible Twos predict how teenagers act and how the same psychology which works on little ones works on your colleagues…and in some cases can even be applied to Mate.

I have chosen to go Kindle exclusive for e-books for the first three months. Many apologies to my Nook owners, but it better serves my needs in getting into American libraries and the southeast Asia market, where I have a good number of followers and fans. The print books will be available in almost every country. More on that when it goes live.

Mantra’s Book

To say I was overwhelmed by the response to the poll about producing a poetry book would be a gross understatement. With 60% of the answers being a write-in version of “yes” in varying numbers of caps, a few “of course!’ and one “a long one”, I am going to look into the layout for one.

About 21% of voters thought the poems should come with some sort of explanation. This is a matter of debate for me. I am considering parsing some, but letting many stand alone for individual reflection. The alternative is a companion book with the explanations. Either way, they will both be inexpensive, as I do not foresee a large demand for them in print for the time being…maybe after I am dead, but certainly not now.

New to the Crew?

If you are new to the M3 Readers, please do stop by Welcome Home! You will find loads of information pertinent to the way assorted things work around here. It will keep you from being interpreted as a spam bot, getting lost and from being convinced things do not work. Believe me, by the time I turn it loose on the M3 Readers, I have broken it and rebuilt it at least thrice.

Right Turn, Clyde!

Right turn, Clyde.

In between attempts to download the piece of software I hate the most behind Internet Explorer, I was struck by something, which embedded and has become infected. As I attempted to navigate websites this week, I was amazed at the complete lack of logical information. This is a very specific type of information.

I found loads of information on what the sites thought I should think was important (read what they were selling). I found laudatory information about why I had come. No, thank you. I do know how to search for reviews, which, incidentally, are not helpful if their entire content is…

My condolences to this writer (Do you see why people think writers do not do anything for a living?) for your never having gotten out of the bubble. Your review is underwhelming to the point I wonder how you stay conscious. This information is not helpful or logical. It applies a subjective scale, which, if left to my own devices, I would conclude puts this product on par with The Clapper.

Then, there is the inundation of misleading information which makes believe there is something you have not done.

  • Activate now!
  • Unlock your product!
  • See why we are world famous!

Once you read the destination pages, you discover:

A. I did that already.
B. I did that already.
C. Complete lack of customer service? The lemur who designed your website? The number of computer sales credited to you for people throwing their laptops from 8th story windows after downloading your product?

Let’s not overlook the superfluous information. How many ways can I not care if…

  • Your owner won a golf tournament…trophy on your homepage under product news (and you sell plumbing supplies).
  • Your spokes-celebrity loved it (but has been dead for more than a decade, which was three years before you had the site built, and the product is in fourth generation now).
  • How your brother-in-law’s ex-roommate once dated Miss Congeniality from Podunk Junior Community College’s 1974 junior class (but she did not graduate because she eloped with his best friend).

I would, however, like to know how to troubleshoot your product, a map to find information on your site and, for when all else fails, a contact form which has both correct and logical information…like an email address or a telephone number…not a review submission box (which is nothing but a comment plugin).

DIY Disaster

Then, in what has to be the nadir of my week, there is the website which assumes you work for them and know which parts of their website do not work because they have no basic understanding of databases or search engines.

Written in #4 font in a color 2 shades off the background color. (Magnified for your convenience.)

For example, the search engine allows input for customer’s name or account number (not both). Since most users are not memorizing yet another 16-digit, completely random number with four interspersed letters which are meant solely to prevent hacking (like anyone wants the stinking information in the first place), chances are good, if users had it handy, they would not need the information on your website…it would be in their paperwork.

Hence, customers input their names. What your site fails to have posted, even in fine print (which does admit your results may vary), is more than 1/3 of your records are only accessible with the account number. Hoozah. You have a search engine why, exactly? What other logical information is missing? Without the cloistered information, all of your transactions with their site are compromised.

Good thing there is a beautiful picture of your 4.8 million dollar building in the header…which, as luck would have it, does not navigate to the home page. Yes, indeed. Have to love a site where a full 1/3 of the page is dead space with no information or gateway to information…not even superfluous information, especially when the SERP is the end of the line with no back, re-search or get me the [expletive] out of here button.

Ugh.

Have we come to the place where websites are designed by lower level primates because owners are that far out of touch with the design, purpose, functionality and customer satisfaction of the site?

As the keeper of an eclectic website, I can appreciate those who will hatemail me calling me the black pot. However, I do everything within my realm to make sure things around here work, I am accessible when they do not and there are pull chains everywhere. And when it is beyond my realm, I recruit those who have such things on their CV.

Until next time,

Red Signature

~~~~~~~~~~

What common sense, logical information is left out of the websites you use the most? What is the biggest annoyance with DIY customer service sites? Are you a bandwidth thief? What constitutes TMI on a customer service site?

I hope you are having a wonderful weekend.

(c) Red Dwyer 2012
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