Category Archives: Uncategorized

Performance Ratings for VisitBigBend.com Drop from A/B to D/E in 12 Months

From 8 August 2016 to 5 August 2017 GTmetrix performance ratings for VisitBigBend.com dropped from “A/B” (Pass) to “D/E” (Fail).

Brewster County Tourism CouncilOriginally established as the Brewster County Tourism Board by an Order of the Brewster County Commissioners Court dated 23 September 1997, the mission of the Brewster County Tourism Council (BCTC) is to promote tourism and put “heads in beds” of lodging venues located in Brewster County Texas outside of the City of Alpine: To that end, the BCTC is charged with planning for the disbursement of a Countywide Hotel Motel Tax with a current annual budget in excess of $1 million:

The BCTC is also charged with keeping Brewster County Hoteliers informed about the Hotel Motel Tax and the activities of the BCTC Board and Staff. To that end, it holds meetings which are open to the public and which all Brewster County Hoteliers and others with an interest in promoting travel to and tourism in the West Texas Rio Grande Big Bend Region in general and Brewster County in particular should attend. The next BCTC meeting is scheduled for 1:00pm CT Thu 7 Sep 2017 at their office location:

Brewster County Tourism Council (BCTC)
Val Clark Beard County Courthouse Office Complex
203 N 7th St
Alpine TX 79830-4615
432-837-3915
Map & Directions

Visit Big BendlLast but not least, the BCTC is mandated to “administer” Brewster County’s flagship destination marketing website VisitBigBend.com (VBB). WLWeb.US would like to give them a hand with that. We believe VBB would benefit greatly from a total (or at least incremental) speedy secure responsive web design (SSRWD) makeover:

To be assured that a website is leveraging speedy secure responsive web design, its web pages must pass the 12 tests of SSRWD validation. About a year ago, we ran those tests against the home page of VisitBigBend.com. At that time, it failed 7 of the 12 tests. Here are screenshots documenting the results:

https://whitelabelwebdeveloper.com/clients/vbb/2016/ssrwd/

We recently ran the SSRWD validation suite again. As of now, VisitBigBend.com fails 8 of the 12 tests. Telling is that from 8 Aug 2016 to 5 Aug 2017, the overall GTmetrix performance ratings for VisitBigBend.com dropped from “A/B” (Pass) to “D/E” (Fail). Here are screenshots documenting all results:

https://whitelabelwebdeveloper.com/clients/vbb/2017/ssrwd/

The web marketing advantages of SSRWD are manifold – not the least of which include improved website user experience and higher search visibility. And yes, VisitBigBend.com already ranks high on search terms like “big bend”, but we would expect that even if the BCTC did nothing to boost it. At some point, however, the BCTC might want to expand their search marketing focus to target qualified prospects who’ve never heard of “Big Bend” and therefore wouldn’t know to search for it – terms like “texas vacations”, “texas vacation destinations” or “texas vacation spots”, where in Góógle as of this writing VBB is out of the running. Unlike “big bend”, for search terms like these VBB has serious competition, and in contexts like that SSRWD can make all the difference.

Legal Status of the Big Bend Chamber of Commerce

Date: Mon, 26 Jun 2017 20:08:25 +0000
From: T.R. Shirley WLWeb.US
Subject: Re: Legal Status of the Big Bend Chamber of Commerce
To: Jim Milburn <***>

Hi Jim,

Thank you for providing me with a copy of the ByLaws of the Big Bend Chamber of Commerce (BBCOC) and a roster of its current five-member Board of Directors. I had a chance to read it and noticed a few areas of concern I wanted to bring to your attention. The issues as noted in the attached PDF include the following:

  1. The BBCOC corporate registration with the State of Texas is forfeit.
  2. The BBCOC 501(c)(6) tax exempt status was revoked several years ago.
  3. The ByLaws make no provision for a five-member Board of Directors.
  4. The ByLaws make no provision for selection of a Board Chairperson.
  5. The current Board of Directors may have committed ultra-vires acts.

I am not a lawyer and I don’t play one on television. That said, you might want to seek legal counsel regarding the status of the BBCOC and any exposure the current Directors may have. A big concern might be the disposition of any monies or benefits received directly or indirectly from any federal/state/county governmental agencies during the period for which the BBCOC may not have existed as a legal entity.

I have in the past expressed an interest in serving the BBCOC as a director or officer. Please note that any such service would be contingent upon seeing these issues have been addressed and are not likely to recur.

Sincerely,

Tim

Ten Reasons Why WLWeb.US Won’t Work With Wix, Or…

What’s Not Hot About The New Marathon Chamber of Commerce Website

Marathon TX Chamber of Commerce | Wix

On 5 July 2017 the new VisitMarathonTexas.com destination marketing website was unveiled, and with its rollout came several revelations for us – including the fact that the new site is built on the poorly-rated, restrictive cookie-cutter Wix.com platform.

Marathon Texas Chamber of Commerce | Wix | Poor ReviewsBeing a member of the Marathon Chamber of Commerce (MCOC) and having an interest in the project, we decided to raise the hood of VisitMarathonTexas.com and take a closer look at what advantages this proprietary Israeli software might offer over the open-source WordPress solution it steals from. Technologically speaking, we found the short answer to be NONE. These 10 restrictions alone should make the Wix platform a pariah for any business website owner:

  1. Wix website owner copyright is limited to what you upload.
    https://support.wix.com/en/article/copyright-of-wixs-content
    Which means somebody just paid for a website they do not own.
  2. Wix can use your content to promote anything they choose.
    https://support.wix.com/en/article/wix-site-and-content-ownership
    Which means it might be used to support something you don’t.
  3. Wix does not allow you to transfer your website or content.
    https://support.wix.com/en/article/exporting-or-embedding-your-wix-site-elsewhere
    Which means the only way to escape from Wix is to start over.
  4. Wix does not support content delivery networks like Cloudflare.
    https://support.wix.com/en/article/request-cloudflare-support
    Which limits website security options and performance potential.
  5. Wix does not allow you to remove ‘www’ from your domain name.
    https://support.wix.com/en/article/removing-www-from-your-domain-name
    Which means you cannot make your domain name more mobile-friendly.
  6. Wix does not support the use of .htaccess files.
    https://support.wix.com/en/article/request-htaccess-files
    Which means you cannot implement HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS).
  7. Wix does not allow the use of PHP (server-side programming).
    https://support.wix.com/en/article/request-using-php-programming-language
    Which severely limits website form, functionality and flexibility.
  8. Wix restricts the use of Javascript (client-side programming).
    https://support.wix.com/en/article/using-javascript-language
    Which also severely limits website form, functionality and flexibility.
  9. Wix does not allow access to website CSS stylesheets.
    https://support.wix.com/en/article/request-accessing-the-css-code-html-of-your-site
    Which means many powerful design/animation/interaction capabilities are unavailable.
  10. Wix does not allow you to integrate or connect to a database.
    https://support.wix.com/en/article/request-connecting-your-site-to-a-database
    Which means maintaining profiles/lists/directories would be a nightmare.

If you’re not sure why any of that matters, our long answer follows – including the fact that due to crippling limitations like these, VisitMarathonTexas.com fails many of the 12 tests of speedy secure responsive web design:

01: HTTP/2 PROTOCOL SUPPORT: FAIL

Marathon Chamber of Commerce | Wix | HTTP/2 Protocol: FailHTTP/2 (RFC 7540) is a major recent revision of the Internet World Wide Web’s HTTP network transport protocol based on the SPDY protocol originally developed by Góógle. HTTP/2 leverages multiplexing, server push, stream priority, header compression and other technological advances to significantly improve page load times and download speeds over encrypted connections. You can test a website for HTTP/2 support here:

https://tools.keycdn.com/http2-test

02: GTMETRIX PAGE SPEED: MARGINAL

Marathon Chamber of Commerce | Wix | GTMetrix Page Speed: MarginalThe vast majority of all website traffic is generated from search engine queries. Most of that traffic flows to web pages with high visibility in organic search results – especially Góógle search rankings. Góógle, Bíng and other major search engines gives significant rank preference to web pages with speedy secure responsive web design. You can analyze the page speed optimization applied to this website here:

https://gtmetrix.com/

03: HSTS SECURITY: FAIL

Marathon Chamber of Commerce | Wix | HSTS Security: FailWith concerns over Internet privacy at an all-time high, sites that are proactive about security will be the preferred product vendors and service providers. HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) – the most reliable form of SSL/TLS encryption – helps protect website users from malicious hackers, ISP and third-party snooping, and unwarranted government surveillance. Proper HSTS deployment can be validated here:

https://www.ssllabs.com/ssltest/index.html

04: RESPONSIVE DESIGN: PASS

Marathon Chamber of Commerce | Wix | Responsive Design: PassResponsive web design is a web development methodology that allows web pages to be flexibly rendered in response to the screen size of the requesting device (e.g. desktop monitors, notebook PCs, tablet computers or smart phones). Responsive web pages adapt their layout to the viewing environment by using fluid grids, flexible images and CSS3 media queries. You can check website responsiveness here:

https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly

05: MALWARE SCAN (INTEGRITY): PASS

Marathon Chamber of Commerce | Wix | Integrity: PassComputer viruses, spyware and other malicious software (malware) is sometimes found embedded by hackers in the programs, web pages and downloads of otherwise trustworthy companies. Malware includes Trojan horses that may appear useful or attractive but have hidden functionality such as tracking to gather marketing statistics for spammers. You can verify the integrity of web resources here:

https://sitecheck.sucuri.net/

06. SEMANTIC METADATA OPTIMIZATION: FAIL

Marathon Chamber of Commerce | Wix | Semantic Metadat: FailMetadata is “data about other data”. Examples of metadata include META, Schema.org and other structured data tags embedded in the HTML source of web pages. Proper semantic optimization of web page metadata enables search engines to better understand and index the content of web pages, and consequently such web pages enjoy higher visibility in search results. You can evaluate structured data here:

https://search.google.com/structured-data/testing-tool

07. W3C VALIDATION – HTML5: FAIL

Marathon Chamber of Commerce | Wix | HTML5 Validation: FailThe World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) was established in 1994 to lead the Web to its full potential by providing the web developer with standards to promote its evolution and assure interoperability. Validating compliance with W3C HTML standards insures that all users (and bots, especially search engine spiders) have reliable access to the content and resources of your site. You can validate HTML markup source here:

https://validator.w3.org/

08. W3C VALIDATION – CSS3: UNKNOWN

Marathon Chamber of Commerce | Wix | CSS3 Validation: FailCascading Style Sheets allow the separation of document content (HTML) from document format (CSS). The CSS language allows you to present the same markup page in different styles for different rendering methods. Validating compliance with W3C CSS standards insures that your content will be presented consistently and as intended across multiple devices and browsers. You can validate CSS3 stylesheet source here:

http://jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator/

09. W3C VALIDATION – INTERNATIONALIZATION: FAIL

Marathon Chamber of Commerce | Wix | Internationalization: FailThe World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Internationalization (I18n) Checker provides information about the internationalization features of a web page. It also summarizes key information about character encoding, language declarations, class/id names and request headers. Getting internationalization right saves time and trouble if you ever need to use your content in a language-sensitive way. You can access the I18n checker here:

https://validator.w3.org/i18n-checker/

10. W3C VALIDATION – LINKS: FAIL

Marathon Chamber of Commerce | Wix | Links: FailBroken links present your site visitors, prospects and customers with roadblocks, detours and dead-ends that may cause them to question your competence and credibility. It may not seem like much on the surface, but a broken link can do serious damage to your reputation and your business. A single broken link can impact search rankings and user experience and/or result in lost clients and revenue. The W3C provides a link checker here:

https://validator.w3.org/checklink

11. W3C VALIDATION – RSS: PASS

Marathon Chamber of Commerce | Wix | RSS Syndication: PassRSS (Rich Site Summary; originally RDF Site Summary; often called Really Simple Syndication) uses a family of standard web feed formats to publish frequently updated information: blog entries, news headlines, audio, video. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) RSS validator is an attempt to codify the specification, make it easier to know when you are producing RSS correctly, and to help you fix it if you are not:

https://validator.w3.org/feed/

12. DOMAIN NAME SERVER (DNS): FAIL

Marathon Chamber of Commerce | Wix | HTTP/2 Protocol: FailThis Pingdom DNS checking tool tests delegation, nameserver, consistency, start of authority (SOA), connectivity and domain name system security extensions (DNSSEC) to verify that the DNS servers and settings for your website are configured properly. This assures that domain names resolve to the right IP address, that web page requests are routed and responded to correctly, and that emails are sent and received as intended:

http://dnscheck.pingdom.com/

CONTACT FORM MISSING

Marathon Chamber of Commerce | Wix | Contact Form MissingThe VisitMarathonTexas.com Contact Page has no contact form. Using Wix does limit your choices in online forms design, development and especially validation, but it does not altogether preclude a basic contact form. Although not a requirement for SSRWD, WLWeb.US considers contact forms a must for any serious website – and for a number of reasons. Here are just a few:

  • Information sent from a contact form is generally encrypted and more secure than email messages. People may feel better about sending their email, address, full name, or other personal info knowing that it’s not easily accessible to hackers.
  • Website visitors enjoy the convenience of contacting you directly from your website. Instead of opening their email client or picking up the phone, they simply enter their information into the form and hit Submit.
  • With a contact form there is no chance messages will accidentally be sent to the wrong email address, or that someone else has access to the message.
  • With a contact form messages visitors send never get inadvertently lost in Spam or Trash folders, assuring you get every message you were intended to receive.
  • With a contact form you can get a clearer sense of what a visitor needs by offering drop down Select menus with a required subject for the request, question, or comment.
  • The presence of a contact form suggests a professionally-developed website – its absence suggests otherwise.

SUBOPTIMAL BRANDING

Marathon Chamber of Commerce | Wix | No WWWWe have been referring to the new Marathon Chamber of Commerce website as “VisitMarathonTexas.com”, but that domain name actually redirects to “Www.MarathonTexas.com”. Given its destination marketing focus, “VisitMarathonTexas.com” would be the ideal base name for the site – but Wix does not allow that. Wix would allow “Www.VisitMarathonTexas.com”, but that’s a lot to type into a smartphone. That said, the formless VisitMarathonTexas.com Contact Page provides “VisitMarathonTexas@gmail.com” as the alternative. A more substantial impression could be made by using a branded email address like “Info@VisitMarathonTexas.com” and forwarding it to “VisitMarathonTexas@gmail.com” (or wherever). The use of Wix should not preclude that.

CONCLUSION

VisitMarathonTexas.com has some visual appeal and aesthetics are important, but imagery is far from the sole criterion for deciding how and where your website will be built – or by whom. With websites as with people, beauty is only skin deep. Like the engine, drivetrain and frame beneath the body of a car, the code that renders what you see on the screen, the environment where it executes and the host where it all resides merit equal consideration. And in choosing who, how and where to build a website, there are many serpents in the garden offering up tasty-looking apples which appear penny-wise but ultimately prove to be pound-foolish.

In our professional opinion, Wix is such an apple, and the decision to use it as the platform for the new Marathon Texas Chamber of Commerce website is regrettable.