Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Dead Link Society

One of my pet peeves are dead links and/or ancient material on non-profit websites. Case in point is the hospital foundation I used to work for before they downsized me (I'm too embarrassed to mention their name). There are parts of their website that haven't changed since the day I left -- a year-and-a-half ago.  My favourite is the page that has the multimedia presentation I made about the construction of the local pediatric unit. The unit was completed and opened months ago, but nobody bothered to go back and update the material.

Then there's the Ontario hospital I know that built a website about their capital redevelopment. Things changed, time passed, the hospital's main website was upgraded and the redevelopment site was left to sit on its own. It was unlinked from the main site so people couldn't get there anymore -- but it wasn't taken down. You can still find it easily through a Google search. It still has the latest redevelopment information from 2008!

And there's a charity I know that has a "Listen to the campaign" button on their home page. It was a link to their previous radio ads. They took down the radio spots nearly a year ago, but they forgot to take down the button. It still sits there telling people to "Listen to the campaign", but when they click on it, it goes to a nice white empty page.

Having dead or out of date links like this is very, very bad. The message it sends about an organization is "lights on, but nobody is at home". At best, it makes the non-profit look sloppy and careless. At worse, it makes people question whether they should believe anything that that organization says.

Perhaps the worse thing is that it indicates that an organization like this doesn't really puts stakeholders first. Instead of trying to give stakeholders what they want, it gives them what the organization thinks it can get away with to make the stakeholders happy.

And none of this has to happen. Finding dead links and updating content is easy. It just takes effort.

The lesson is know your website. Keep it current. Remember to actually remove things when they are complete...don't leave them for search engines to find. Put someone in charge of your website and have them manage it. Give them the training and the time they need to do the job.

Send me your dead link or out of date material stories and I'll post them here on my blog. Then we'll all have a good laugh.

1 comment:

  1. I don't have a professional outdated link story, however a while back (probably 7 years ago) I had embedded a picture hyperlink in one of my blogs, and several months later when I went back to said blog the link had changed and what used to be a picture of a turkey sandwich had become an "adult baby" - it was ..interesting.