October 16, 2000
I have spent much of the day dealing with very frustrating websites. I've been doing a research project for a client, gathering information from various organizations that are all public agencies. But from some of their sites, you'd think they were really cover identities for the CIA.
The information I've been looking for is not secret, by any means---the headquarters location being a prime element of what I was after. This is all stuff that if I were living in the locations of the organizations, I would have in my local phone book.
So here's my suggestion to all public (read "taxpayer-supported") organizations: put the snail mail address and main phone number of your organization on the index page of the site. Remember this is the World Wide Web, not the neighborhood web. People from all sorts of places are liable to visit.
And sometimes they just want to know where you are.
Hint to those who have had similar frustrating experiences: if you can't find the address of the organization easily, try following a link to apply for a job or one for information about making donations. Either of those will frequently get you the information you need. Sometimes, so will following a link for contacting the organization, although it's as likely as not you'll just get an e-mail contact form. I'm not suggesting looking for the contact information for the site owner because that's frequently several government layers above what you need.
As for me, I'm through with the majority of the project, and still have most of my sanity intact. I think.
How was your day? Come tell us about it.