Monday, August 15, 2011

Bad for Business.

Dear Globlets,

Restaurants are known to have awful websites. When I worked at One of a Grind, I often thought about getting permission to build up the online profiles for the business. As I live in the 21st century, if I want to find somewhere to eat or have a coffee, I Google it. I can find coffee shops or restaurants or bistros just by typing in an address for Google to search by, whether I want to find a place downtown, by my house, or when I go to Nanaimo. The entries with the most details and reviews are the ones I would consider first. If I can't even get the hours of operation, how do I know they're still open at all? When I looked up One of a Grind and found a couple of entries made by, and in reply to, the previous owner, I knew that if I was looking for a cafe/bistro, I would probably overlook this one. I firmly believe that having a website, or at least an online reputation of some sort - even on restaurant review sites - will increase business.

My mom linked me to these sites:
This one describes the shitty restaurant website phenomenon, and this one has funny comments about shitty restaurant websites (For example: “Yay! The link keeps *bouncing*! I love that trying to enter your website is a fun game.” And “I was wondering if this place had an atmosphere of murmuring patrons and clinking dishes. Thanks to the sound effects on this website, now I know!”).

If a bad restaurant website can deter potential patrons, what can be said about bad university websites?

As you may or may not know, I consider the UVic Website of Chaos and Doom one of my arch enemies, right up there with spiders and peas. You might have read this post which describes what I went through during my admission process.

Today, I went online to see which of my recent tuition payments had gone through for both Camosun and UVic. Unfortunately, nothing shows up yet for Camosun, but the transaction did work according to my bank. Next, I realized that the $200 that was supposed to go towards my UVic tuition for the Fall semester was sitting in the Summer semester area:
Term Charges:

Term Credits and Payments:

Awesome. I started looking around the site for ways to transfer payments from one semester to another, or at least something that might help or say, "If you pay fees too much in advance, just chill, broski, because we'll sort it out when the time comes." Even a "If you pay before September, your money is going to end up in the wrong semester, trolololo" message would have been nice. I'm not too worried about the money, but it got me thinking about the UVic Website of Chaos and Doom again.

I was reminded of the shitstorm that was the process of post-secondary information collection, and of Camosun and UVic's inability to communicate with each other, despite the fact that numerous students transfer from Camosun to UVic every year.

I would understand, perhaps, that going to the university to speak with them in person might be more beneficial than gathering information from the website IF it had not already been proven that not even the humans can tell me what I need to know. That's the point of the internet: to have oceans worth of information at the tip of one's fingers, because it's too hard seek it from the tip of another's tongue. I cannot expect a human to have all the information they need for each individual student, but in the 21st century I think it is fair to expect that a website would have all the information each individual student might need. Things like "How and when to pay tuition online so that it goes towards the right semester" would be nice.

And I can't help but think... I am trying to get as much information as I can so that I can make a well-informed decision that will affect the rest of my life. Going to university is a huge step in my life. It's probably going to be the most important time of my life. If I fuck it up, so much money and time and energy will all have been wasted. So, you'd think that accessibility to information, either online or in person, would be fantastic. You know, because some of us might actually want to know ahead of time that the TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS that will probably be spent on post-secondary education will be spent properly.

While poorly-designed restaurant websites piss people off enough to make them order a pizza instead of go out, there is no alternative for students who want to make the best decision about their education, who want all the facts in advance, who fully expect to end up tens of thousands of dollars in debt before they are finished school. If I'm going to dish out that kind of dough, I want to know that every dollar is worth it, that I made the right decision, and that this is the right path for me, but if the information is not even close to accessible, then it isn't fair to ask me, or anyone else who wants an education, to plunge into the bottomless pit of student debt.

Facts upfront, motherfuckers. Facts upfront, and then you'll get your money.

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