Reporting Web Site Bugs to Web Site Owners

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, May 16, 2008 at 04:00 AM with 0 comments

Have you ever had a problem with a Web site? Notice how I did not ask for a show of hands, otherwise there would be a lot of arms in the air right now. When you encountered this error, what did you do? Did you call the company, or try to contact them via email or the contact form on their Web site?

As someone who spends most all of my days on the Web, I encounter many. If I do find an error or something out of the ordinary, sometimes I report it. I say sometimes as when I do, I am often confronted with the sounds of crickets on the other end of the phone, get an automated, generic response or something that contains words but is not necessarily a sentence.

Why is this? There are many contributing factors to this, including the typical siloing of functions within a company, the fact that who answer the phone or check the email from the Web site has no knowledge or way to process such a contact, and the Web site being accessed may be managed by a third-party or other entity outside the company and there are no lines of communication in place. Where these are all realistic scenarios, they do absolutely nothing to serve those actually use the Web site, otherwise known as paying customers.

As an Internet consultant and Web developer, I work closely with my clients and sometimes directly to their customers to resolve any issues with a Web site solution I have provided them. When I do get such a report, I check to ensure the following 4 questions are addressed:

  • Who are they – their computer, operating system, browser, Internet connection speed and any programs that may be running while they are accessing the Web site
  • What are they doing – the Web site they were accessing, including any and all links and where they linked from, and how they got to this point
  • What happened – as much detail as possible, including a written or verbal description and screenshots
  • What did they expect to happen – this is always helpful as it could be a case of mistaken expectations, or it could be they knew what was supposed to happen and it didn’t work that way

Generally people are willing to provide this information, especially if they are treated with courtesy and respect. Armed with this knowledge, a troubleshooting path can be put together rather quickly and hopefully a resolution is close at hand. That is, if you take the time to do your best to support the Web site user.

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