Tuesday, November 11, 2014

5 Things to Check When a Website Doesn't Work the Way You Expect

A few minutes ago I received the following email from a reader:

Subject line: Poetica doesn't work and they don't respond to emails about problems!

Message: Annoying, especially since I gave them some kind of access to my google stuff in order to use their non-working program. I didn't even get an acknowledgement email about my email to them. Frankly, I think this site sucks.

Now I'm not sure if this person wanted me to help her or if she just wanted to take out her frustration on me. Either way, here are some things that I suggest trying when a website doesn't work the way that you expect it to.

1. Are you using a modern browser? In a lot instances of a site not working properly in a school, the cause can be traced to using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. If you're using an older version of Internet Explorer (IE 11 is the current stable version) not only will some sites not work correctly, you are also opening yourself up to more potential security threats. Find out which browser and version you're using by visiting

2. Do you have cookies enabled? Many websites require cookies in order to offer you the best possible experience. Explania and Common Craft offer good explanations of how cookies work.

3. Do you have a pop-up blocker turned on? It is not uncommon for a website to use a pop-up window for account log-ins. If the pop-up is blocked, you won't be able to log-in.

4. Are you using the site on a tablet/ iPad/ Chromebook? While it would be great if every site was optimized for tablets, that is not the case.

5. Have you checked your spam folder? If you sent a help request to the help desk/ site administrators, they may have replied and had their messages flagged by your spam filter. I've experienced this more than once when using a school district email address.

And just to bring a little humor to this, in the words of The IT Crowd, "have you tried turning it off and on again?"

Disclosure: For years I have had an in-kind business relationship with Common Craft.