Web Blooper of the Month

Unfinished Content

A common blooper is putting obviously unfinished pages on the Web. In some cases, sites were knowingly put online while still under construction. In other cases, content is missing because of an oversight: developers failed to check all the pages before taking the site live. Sites that are obviously incomplete make a poor impression on prospective customers.

Call up any Web-search engine and search for "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet" (including the quotation marks). Depending on the search engine, the search will return at least hundreds of hits, if not thousands. For example, conducting this search on Google.com yielded more than ten pages of hits.

What does this mean? Many website designers initially mock-up their websites with pseudo-Latin text so they can determine and evaluate the layout before the actual content is written . Some web-development tools help by providing the Latin filler. The most common Latin filler begins "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit...". When this text appears in a live website, it means that the designer neglected to replace the filler text with real content-text before putting the site on the Web. Vincent Flanders first called attention to this common problem in 1998 in his website WebPagesThatSuck.com.

International Wafer Service (SIWafer.com)

For example, International Wafer Service, a supplier of silicon wafers, has a "What's New" page on its website that includes an announcement of improved chip-lithography methods (see below). The announcement begins normally but degenerates into filler text, including fake Latin.

SIWafer.com example of Web Blooper

Stanford University (Stanford.edu)

Finding oneself staring at pseudo-Latin is not the only clue that a website is unfinished. Sometimes the clue is more of a Zen experience: pages of nothing. An excellent example of nothing is provided by the Continuing Studies sub-site of Stanford University's website (see below).

Stanford.edu example of Web Blooper

Avoiding the Blooper

It is a bad idea to put a site online with clearly unfinished content. It makes your organization look amateurish and disorganized. Instead, do the following:

  • Don't go live until ready. If you currently have no Web presence, don't rush it. Wait until your site is complete before exposing it to the world. Reserve your desired domain-name as soon as you know what it will be, but you can do that without putting up a website. If absolutely necessary, put up a placeholder page providing contact information, a brief description of the site's or your organization's mission, and saying that the new site is coming.
  • Don't miss your own deadline. If you publicly post a completion date, you really have committed yourself to making that date. If you posted a date and aren't going to make it, yank it down as soon as possible. Leaving a date for a new site posted after the date is passed really makes your organization look bad.
  • Keep old site up. If a previous -- presumably complete -- version of your site is already on the Web, leave it up a little longer, until you have the new one ready,
  • Omit unfinished pages. If you anticipate adding content to your site later, after it is up, don't leave blank pages or filler-content where it will be. Leave the unfinished pages, sections, or paragraphs completely out of the site, with no links or references to them.
  • Check it! Review your site thoroughly before putting it online. Check it on your intranet before putting it on the Internet. It is good to begin this checking by having members of the design and development organization systematically walk through the site. However, before taking the site live, it is also important -- for a variety of reasons, not only checking completeness -- to test the site on people from outside the organization or even outside the company.