Working with the Internet, in all of its forms, to communicate well with a Public, a Membership and as a Reference Site certainly cannot be an easy task for any organization. Just the distraction of working through the amount of potential options for every aspect of a web presence can bring many groups to a grinding halt.
Importantly it is very easy to loose sight that in terms of web presence “Change is Just Change, and All Change Doesn’t Imply Improvement.”
The ARRL certainly has been changing its web presence, and unfortunately rather than creating a look-forward awesome web presence has in many ways gone backwards, in some cases 20 years or so…..
It is as if emotional and economic over-investment has clouded any web presence decisions.
As it is widely held that any web-transaction system needs to be simple, secure, robust, portable and user friendly there are a whole raft of lessons simply being ignored concerning the klutz ARRL Logbook of the World (LOTW) QSL database system. I’ve written about this clumsy system several times, most recently as part of my decision to drop participation in LOTW as having almost no benefit for me in comparison to the technical pain of dealing with an obsolete software model. LINK Simple Thoughts on a Complex Mess – LoTW, Run or Drop?
The “redesigned” commercialized ARRL website may feature some “gee-wiz” scripting, but is dull in both design and content. Now heavily advertisement ladened this website has dropped from my daily “look-see” bookmark list as I have found it preferable (and ad free) to only monitor the RSS feed. LINK Are we a League or a Internet Vendor?
The commercialization in both implemented web design (how can it be less costly to job out the website than do it with ARRL HQ staff, specially considering the less than subtle loss of control of a contracted-out web presence?) and in the large amount of space dedicated to Internet Selling (internal ARRL ads and Paid Vendor ads) has greatly diminished my interest as an ARRL Life Member in the organization’s website.
The sell-out decision “to tart up” & “to add paid vendor ads” has been forced down our throats with the various ARRL email newsletters “going commercial.” Maybe Newington doesn’t understand the difference between communications and Spam? I’ve found that I have gone from a nearly 100% read of the former newsletter designs to almost never looking at these new noisy, vendor ad ladened versions.
Further web efforts into offering “exclusive” and “additional” ARRL content to those members willing to participate in the third-party social networking & noisemaking systems Facebook & Twitter, with the implication that the only way for a ARRL Member to get this addition exclusive content is to use these third party websites, shows how completely out of touch the Newington web presence effort is.
There is arguments enough on other Amateur Radio blogs and forums about whether Facebook & Twitter are “evil” and “trivial” that I will only offer than there is a much more serious issue the ARRL hasn’t gotten – that these are THIRD PARTY web sites that the ARRL has no control over, and most importantly that a significant number of ARRL Members DO NOT PARTICIPATE IN.
The simple fact is the ARRL has promised a superior information flow not from its own web presence, but only through third party conduits – they are “gypping” members who do not want, or cannot for technical reasons participate in these third party information conduits, while missing the important part that they are further driving “hits” away from the ARRL website (why look at that dog, when you can get it elsewhere) which will even drive down the advertising revenue for their commercialization through Paid Vendor ads.
In many ways the ARRL appears to be heading backwards – from a bright vibrant website that filled a page to a dull clumsy commercialized website – from newsletters than set the standard for amateur radio CONTENT to advertising glossy unreadable spam-letters – from a consolidated “best content is on the ARRL website” focus to a purposeful “don’t look here, but rather look at Facebook to get anything special” drive away from the main ARRL website – from a mainly ad-light or even ad-free web presence to a ad-ladened catalogue with some content – and of course head in the sand with a LOTW system that is a dinosaur for so many of us.
Maybe the membership needs to have a chat with Newington about the concept of “Signal to Noise” in web presence?
As usual “your mileage may vary” and I would like to point out that my web presence is no masterpiece, but I’m not charging you the reader a membership and haven’t promised anything for a goal on this web project to anyone other than a promise to self “to do my best.”