Saturday, February 13, 2010

How not to create a website

I'm doing research on parental controls filtering on routers. Ok, there's a blog on Yahoo that lists a few -- oops, it's woefully out of date, but it appears the major brands have some solution or other. The Netgear seems ok, I don't want the software solution, I don't like D-link. I have used LinkSys products in the past and they've been pretty good. So let's see if they have a reasonable solution for me. So I go to the LinkSys site (linksys is now owned by Cisco, ok) and type in "parental controls" into their "Help me find" box. The first three results are in spanish. Not helpful. Ok, the fourth is "Configuring Safe Web Surfing and Parental Controls through HND in Network Magic 5.5" which seems promising. This leads to a page that says "Safe Web Surfing is a services [sic] where allow customer to block dangerous and malicious websites (fraud, phishing scams, viruses) for all devices connected in your Network Magic." Oops on the spelling. What's a Network Magic? What's an HND? Let's find out a bit more. Oh, I guess HND is Home Network Defender. I also guess they like acronyms: "To access HND in NM, click here."

Ok, well what routers support these acronyms? I go back to the home page and search for "Network Magic". The first hit is "Cisco Network Magic Pro 5.5 - CNMPRO" which apparently is a product. Great. Click on that. The page says "Parental Monitoring gives parents the ability to monitor their kids' online activity providing peace of mind and a safer online experience. Restrict Internet access plus take remote desktop screenshots to see real-time what they are doing from your own computer." Great. I want to know more, like in detail what it does.

Not much on this page. On the right there's a More Information which downloads a PDF which is basically a glossy brochure with a few more details about what it can do. "Cisco Network Magic offers controls that allow you to manage when and where your networked computers access the Internet. You can restrict Internet access to certain times of the day, making sure your kids are doing their homework and not surfing the web or chatting with." But nothing like the level of detail I want. How do you configure it?

There's also a More button which... brings you to the updates and drivers page. Fail.

Oh, but there's still HND to look at. Ok, back to search for that. Snarkily, I type in HND and am rewarded with the cryptic "Linksys by Cisco - LELA 3.1 (HND) Support". More acronyms. And I don't want support. Then the next 3 hits are in italian! I love italian! Unfortunately I don't read it. The 11th hit is "Configuring Safe Web Surfing and Parental Controls through HND in Network Magic 5.5". That sounds good. Nope, I've already seen that page and it has very basic information.

Fine, I type in "Home network defender". The first hit is "Linksys by Cisco Network Defender". Awesome. Let's look at it. Gotta skip past the "what about the children?" videos. At the bottom there's a data sheet, great. Nope! It's a one page summary. Lame.

Let's try the FAQ. For the first time, there's a bit of pricing information -- but it's incomplete. At the bottom there's "For more information, visit the EasyLink Advisor FAQs". What's EasyLink Advisor? Oh, it's actually Linksys EasyLink Advisor -- LELA! Then there's lots of Q&A which still doesn't tell me what the product does.

This is marketing gone terribly, terribly wrong, and website execution total fail. After about ten searches and lots of link clicks, I still don't have my questions answered about whether their products have the features I want.