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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

Ham Radio Websites

Robert J. Costa (KB6QXM) on January 12, 2013
View comments about this article!

Have you ever noticed that most amateur radio websites, not all, no matter if they are personal or even commercial, the websites are so poorly designed?

Most ham sites look like they came right out of the early days of the world wide web. Very low tech. Cheezy graphics or cheezy animated gifs. Most of the sites have little to no search capability, little to no menuing systems or if they do, they are cheezy.

Most ham radio sites do not follow web site design rules. Wrong colors, poorly chosen fonts, too many clicks to get to the information you want, lack of meta-tagging, very old basic sites. When I look at these sites, it looks like I am stepping back in time when I was using either Windows3.1 or Windows 95.

Come on fellow hams, I ask you to join the 21st century. Embed Youtube videos, streaming links, CSS, server-side flash menus, CMS (Content Management System) back-ends for sites that have documents. Easy navigation and up to date information to name a few.

I will not mention any specific sites in this opinion, but I encourage you to take a look at many of the popular larger ham radio sites....do they look modern and a good representation of our hobby?

As far as commercial companies that sell products to fellow hams, these smaller companies should hire professional web designers and I mean PROFESSIONAL web designers design the sites. They have the skills and the tools. Their websites should present a level of professionalism which would translate into the products that they are selling.

Now this could be a representation of the aging demographic of ham radio. Many older people do not keep up with the blazing fast change in technology. As the new generation of hams are mobile-based.

Everyone wants to do everything mobile. I have yet to see one ham radio mobile site.

There are many hams that invest a lot of money in ham gear, but the ham companies who build their websites either do not update their sites or do not invest a lot of time or money when the site is designed. Maybe they do not understand the demographics that they are selling to.

On the other side of the spectrum, you have the geek community using Wiki software, Blog software and other non-attractive, but "geeky" software.

But then most to all hams are not flashy "marketing" types with a lot of bling.

Maybe it is too much to ask.

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by K6AER on January 12, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Actually in you article you hit the nail on the head. The sites are done by nonprofessionals. Most hams are not web design masters. Hell I fell lucky if I go to QRZ.com and the look up call has even a picture. I wish more hams would expand on their hobby for it makes a great Segway to other aspects of the life and hobbies.

A lot of sites have nothing but filler URL links and that is fine but not to informative. Bob W8NY and Tom W8JI have nice sites. Toms is very technical and has done a great service to the HAM community with his technical tutorials. Bob site is personal and very enjoyable.

I am not the man for this job but how about a three part article of E-Ham on web site designing?
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by AI2IA on January 12, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Not all folks have the talent or the time to design top quality, pleasing websites.

Does that really matter?
Isn't the communication and the information displayed more important than the dressing?

Should there be a U.S. Academy of Website Design to pass on and approve only those websites that meet their standards?

Aren't there more important things about which to be concerned? If not, well, then you've got your point.
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by HAMMYGUY on January 12, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Why is Craigslist's so poorly designed? It hasn't been changed much since it's beginnings in the mid 90's.

Because it loads quickly.

I'd not interested in glamour when I access a website ran by hams. If they spent all their time making it look good then it probably wouldn't have much content that I'm interested in.
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by AB9TA on January 12, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Bob,

I think you hit a couple of nails square on the head.. The non-professional angle is true, but you also made a great point about Hams not keeping up with technology. In fact, I'd say many hams are downright stuck firmly in the past!

The other aspect is that some hams believe that if they have an amateur radio license, that makes them an expert on anything and everything technical. The general sad state of ham websites shows the truth of that.. To paraphrase Dirty Harry Callahan: "A good Ham always knows his limitations."

Hopfully a club has at least one member that works in IT and can provide expertise that gets listened to. But if not, here's an idea, if I needed to implement a web site at low cost, I would hire a student in web design from a local college. I know it would look a lot better than anything I could come up with.

But even paying big money for website design is no guarantee of success. Look at the website of the largest Amateur Radio group in the US. Ugly and hard to use, and the are said to have paid a lot of money for that. Either they hired a friend of a friend, or there was so much "input" from the customer there was no chance of success.

On the other hand, there are a lot of non-ham commercial business websites that are pretty bad also!!

73!
Bill AB9TA
 
RE: Ham Radio Websites  
by KG6AF on January 12, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
When I created a web site for our local VE group, I was faced with the fact that I wasn't current on HTML and don't have a good enough sense of aesthetics to design a attractive site.

The answer, it turns out, was simple. I just Googled "free website template" and found a number of sites that offer easily-customized templates that you can use at no cost (often, all you have to do is give credit to the template creator on your site). I used a text editor to add my content, then uploaded the HTML and CSS files to the web server (a big thumbs-up for the FileZilla FTP program, by the way). That was it--no cost, not much time. I had the site up in four or five hours, and while it's not fancy, it's nice-looking and easy to maintain.

There you go: no flashy marking cred, no bling, and little effort required.




 
Ham Radio Websites  
by N9SKN on January 12, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Well Bob, ham radio is such a big hobby. This Op is into CW and this guy is into SDR. Others care only about AM or SSTV or sat work. We all have our own niche.

For me the important thing is to reconize that is one of the nice things about the ham radio hobby. It has somthing for everyone. The down side is when an Op jumps up and down and wants everyone else to play in their end of the sandbox - or criticizes those who aren't interested in that end of the sandbox.

If a Ham web page loads fast I think thats a plus -though a link to some larger multimedia as an option would be courteous if desired, because some guys are into that. I often enjoy Youtube video links of all kinds of Ham activity.

At the same time part of my personal attraction to ham radio is "Retro" or seeing what I can do on my own. There is enough fiber optics, software updates, and diagnostic logs at work - I like to unwind with less in this hobby. Others like to push it with more. I will check them out and learn from them but never think less of them as a ham becasue they don't live in Silicon Valley and have a flashy web page.
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by KD8TUT on January 12, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Well... Web design... or simply the act of deploying a website is really outside the area of most ham's interest.

My observation as a new ham, is that there's a bit of dislike for the internet among our fraternity. Which is unfortunate, because the internet can and will fail long before radio communications will in a crisis (But the internet is still very useful!!). If you have a generator and a radio- you can communicate with anyone anywhere. With the internet, in it's current configuration, the failure of a few critical points would cause a complete collapse.

That's informed by 22 years of systems engineering experience which I have.

That being said... these older looking sites are somewhat refreshing to me. I like simple, and the "old days" of the internet when when it was simply hyperlinks- and a ton of information.

But whatever your tastes. Most hams are not IT people. Unfortunately. They really are related fields.
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by K4EQ on January 12, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
It's a hobby and we error if we expect others to take certain aspects of the hobby as seriously as we do, including ham website design. Frankly, some site have too much of the stuff you suggest--embedded videos, animated gifs, etc. I think it can cheapen the site. BUT . . . it's a hobby. So what? Each to his or her own. For me, I like simplicity, pleasant eye appeal, and easy navigation. I'm not selling any product, so I'm not looking to capture any audience--just having fun showing others about my shack and the hobby I've enjoyed for many years now.
 
RE: Ham Radio Websites  
by N6AJR on January 12, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
As an asside, I find folks in a RTTY contest, send their logs into LOTW much faster and in more quantity than any other mode. I think this is perhaps because you really need a computer to run RTTY these days.

So the folks running RTTY are maybe a bit more able or since they are already on the computer they up load faster. but lots of folks use the computer for radio purposes, but not a lot of computer folks are also hams.
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by N7BMW on January 12, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
IT'S A HOBBY. There is a reason it's called Amateur Radio. Many of those suppliers' website that you complain about are people making and selling Ham gear as a sideline. Hire a professional to do their websites - add to their cost of doing business and add to the cost of their products. As was said by another: Getting the information across is more important than the window dressing.

Are you a professional web designer looking for business?
 
RE: Ham Radio Websites  
by KA1BIN on January 12, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
So maybe we should just stop all working on any ham band or frequency and devolt all our time to making sure that we have a pleasant, pleasing web site.

Ever think that some hams have an actual life, maybe a wife and family. Ok, I get it, we better also quit our jobs, so we can spent more time on our web sites.
Wife and kids be damned.

(PS: I notice that some hams who have call sign license plates HAVE DIRTY CARS, come'on, lets keep those cars clean-you don't want to receive any complaints like the one above.)

Steve
KA1SMC (formerly since 1976 KA1BIN)
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by KK5JY on January 12, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I would much rather have an ugly site with good information than a pretty site with no information. A lot of businesses these days run the latter.

There are many ugly websites that generate tons of traffic. E.g., Drudge Report. Whatever you think of Drudge, the bottom line is that he runs one of the most visited sites on the 'net, and he hasn't changed the look of his site in something like 15 years.

Everybody has their own expectations, and the advertising world is based on that. Some people won't buy breakfast cereal unless the box is flashy and pretty. Some of us prefer to have nutrition, and couldn't care less about the wrapper.

The original article makes a good point about search functions on some sites not being very good. That's what Google is for. Chances are, if Google can't find what you want, it's not on the site anyway. If you don't like Google's privacy track record, several people use Google as an engine, but block your personal info, e.g., StartPage.

All that said, I wholeheartedly agree about the ARRL's website. They broke (permanently) half the links to technical articles, and their own search returns tons of pages on their own site that 404. The old site was better, information-wise. A classic example of pretty at the expense of content.
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by KC8QMU on January 12, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Yes, it is too much to ask.

It's someone else's time and money, not yours........

Don't like it? Don't look at it..........

Maybe the hams whose websites don't meet your standards use more of their time actually operating.....
 
RE: Ham Radio Websites  
by AE5X on January 12, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I agree with most of what's said here: It's just a hobby and contentspeed of loading is more important than window dressing.

However, there are so many templates available that eliminate the need of re-inventing the whell in order to "deploy" a website.

Wordpress is primarily a sie from which to build a blog but their templates can also support standard non-blog type websites with varying degrees of flashiness.

My own site is both a blog (I hate that word!) with non-blog pages on QRO, QRP and DX topics.

A neat layout, color coordination and other tools make them the way to go, IMO. On top of all that, they're free.

Their main advantage is that templates allow the website builder to focus on content - for better or worse - rather than site design.

John AE5X
http://www.ae5x.com/blog
 
RE: Ham Radio Websites  
by K0IZ on January 12, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Unless the website represents a very small company, I think the quality of presentation reflects (good or bad) on the company and the products being sold. Something from Frontpage 2000 will work, but makes one wonder if the technology of the products is equally retro, and the business a garage operation.

I was the volunteer webmaster for our homes association, using Frontpage. AFter a number of years I encouraged another member to take over the site. In relatively few hours he completely revamped the site, using modern tools. The content was still mostly from my old web, but with modern design capabilities.

There are lots of people with the skills to do what he did, and without it costing an arm and leg. I suspect that most hams with a website don't realize the poor image their site gives to their company. Of course I see exactly the same with many non-ham sites.
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by KA4NMA on January 12, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
My pet peeve is video's, or music that starts loading and playing automatically. Provide a link and description to play it.

Randy Ka4nma
 
RE: Ham Radio Websites  
by KK2DOG on January 12, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I have no clue what I'm doing.
Good thing Don's there to bail me out!


Mike KK2DOG
www.hamwave.com
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by AK4RL on January 12, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Maybe it is because most of us older hams can read and do not need to be entertained by mindless JAVA script and other nonsense doodles. I much prefer to read and comprehend what is on a website than see some foolishness that really doesn't pertain to the subject I am interested in. I guess it goes back to the problem that many younger people have to be entertained and have very short attention spans. They have been spoonfed the questions and answers to their ham tests and now want to have cartoons on all the ham websites. 73, Ray AK4RL
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by N5SOM on January 12, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Some individuals are still using dialup access to the internet in rural areas. This is considered, along with a few other factors such as resolution when designing our website. Most users prefer fast loading vs advanced graphics.

Oh yes, my BA is in graphic design and I'm not looking for more business.
73, Glen
 
RE: Ham Radio Websites  
by K2BEW on January 13, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
My favorite HAM sites have always and will always be L.B. Cebik, hamuniverse, and of course eHam. Plain text, clearly written, presenting excellent relevent material! What more do you need? To me that is what makes a web site good. I don't need to be entertained I want to learn. 73, Tom K3BEW
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by VE3FMC on January 13, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I looked up the OP's call on QRZ. He has one small photo.

Yet he wants us to make our personal websites POP?
I have a site, and trust me it is nothing high tech. But what it does do is show my interests in life. Nothing more, nothing less. I designed my site to KISS.

It loads quickly, gets the job done.

Personally I do not need to see embedded You Tube videos, I can go to You Tube and watch them there if I want to.

Animated GIFS', really what purpose do they serve other than slowing down the loading of the website.

On QRZ under my call listing I have 3 photos of my shack. Good enough for me.

I remember looking up a call and the guy must have had 30 photos added to his bio. Overkill to say the least.

Those do not add photos to their QRZ bio, I am ok with that. That is up to them if they want to add a photo. Plus for someone who is not familiar with the QRZ bio edit page, adding photos is not an easy thing to do. There are a lot of prompts at the top of the edit page to sort through.

When it comes to amateur radio dealer websites again, KISS works for me. Let me navigate around the site to find the products I am looking for quickly and without hassle. I am shopping, not site seeing.

Same goes for sites that hold antenna designs etc. Again I am searching for information, not sight seeing.

KISS goes a long way.

73, Rick VE3FMC

 
RE: Ham Radio Websites  
by W1JKA on January 13, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
My originial website is still posted and has been hanging in my attic since that V.P. candidate invented the internet.New content is added daily and has some new pics of my cobweb and other trap antennas.
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by K9YNF on January 13, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I am an Honor Roll DXer who just happens to be a professional writer with a professionally designed website.
I researched the Web for an entire year until I found my webmaster in Ohio. My site has received many compliments over the 5 1/2 years that it has been up. Over that period, it has had a digital subscription e-commerce store, a pay-per-view function, until now in its present iteration where it features all seven of my ebook covers that allow the potential reader to click through to each of my Amazon.com ebook ordering pages.
The key thing for me is to keep it brief, visually appealing, and fresh, just like my writing.

Wayne C. Long, K9YNF
Writer/Editor/Digital Publisher
http://www.LongShortStories.com
Where the Short Story LIVES!
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by STRAIGHTKEY on January 13, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Today there is really no reason to have a lousy looking website. There are many free hosting services that have templates and wizards that let you upload the content and the system has various themes to choose from. The themes have nice layouts, fonts, and colors.

There is nothing wrong with having a very sparse, minimal website. These sites can actually be visually appealing. The problem is with hams who try to get elaborate on their own. If you have a site with frames, background WAVs playing something, more than 2 or 3 colors, or a message at the bottom "Designed with notepad.exe" or "Best viewed with XYZ browser", you probably have a lousy website.
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by N8NSN on January 13, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
W0BG has a really good site. Nothing over the top fancy, no scrolling bs banners, nothing trying to sell things that aren't wanted or needed. JUST SOLID INFORMATION.

I like simplicity. I like a movie that has a plot strong enough that it doesn't require "flash-bang" tactical, T&A, fast cars, or otherwise overly visually based in stimuli, to be entertaining. I'll take talent over mechanical or digitally generated "action" any time, any day, anywhere. I know... It takes talent and know how to build & manipulate the machine. It takes intelligence to design the programs that generate the graphic content... Don't really care to be having my own mind manipulated in to seeing things the way a "seller" wants me to "see" them, none the less. I know, I know... I'll digress and come around to calm again, soon enough.... hi hi ( oh wait; this is the internet - replace hi hi with "LOL" )

Kind of like (but not directly) video killed radio music. IMO music used to have more personal meanings to the listener. Every music listener had "that favorite song" which spoke to them. People still have favorites, but the video leaves little to no room for "listener interpretation". Following the "trends" which was essentially deregulation and BIG corporations buying up nearly ALL the television and bc radio stations absolutely KILLED both formats of entertainment. Well, I guess that depends on whom you ask. Some people LOVE crassness, are addicted to all things which are just overstimulating, and / or have an insatiable desire to fill the void of their own lack of imagination. Corporate radio, television, and now -internet as well, are "designed" with just ONE intention... to Sell You Something. be it an idea, product, or what ever... SELL. Oh hells bells, I'm off track and borderline hijacking the OP. Nothing personal OB, just one good rant deserves another worthy retort.

In a nut shell...
Just because one can doesn't necessarily mean one should.
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by K4IQT on January 13, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
It's not the style of the page, and since 99.9% no longer use analog modem access to the Internet, loading speed is simply a non-issue.

Many individual ham pages and some commercial ham pages are not very informative, and there is no doubt that a gussied-up website will sell more product if that's the game. Check out the higher-rated websites that are graded right here on eHam.net ... the best ratings are universally sites with the "best" content for hams, in whatever context.

It's the content that makes the page.

73,
Terry
 
RE: Ham Radio Websites  
by K7FD on January 13, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
When I go to QRZ.com I always enjoy seeing a unique picture or reading about activities the other guy/gal is into. Content is what makes it interesting...

Keeping things fresh and updated is a good idea, too. I change mine on a regular basis; if I'm tired of looking at it, others must be too!

I do prefer QRZ.com as 'my website' because that's the first place the other op goes to during a QSO.

73 John K7FD
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by KN7F on January 13, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I like the huge variety but the first note of any music and I'm gone from that site. I won't stay long if the colors or font make it difficult to read. And please don't re post content from someone else's site especially without telling us who the creator was. It's best to just put a quick note and a link to someone else's work.

My site isn't great but I try to keep it easy to read and when I find errors, I correct them. When I find someone's work that I would like to share I send them an email and let them know that I will be adding a link to there site and give them the option to tell me no. I have started putting a date on all new content
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by K0JEG on January 13, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Lots of responses are along the lines of "good information no matter what it looks like"

OK, baby blue background with red text, but great information, or white background with black text and great information. Choose one.

The point is this: the rest of the world has moved beyond Geocities. Maybe it's time to take a look at that old site and see if there's room for improvement.

A good starting point is to look at some of the numerous style guides that are available (for free!):

http://google-styleguide.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/htmlcssguide.xml

Just one example. If you don't like Google, Bing search for a better one.
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by K0JEG on January 13, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Check this site for checking color combinations that shouldn't be used:
http://www.randomterrain.com/web-design-readability-and-backgrounds.html
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by K1CJS on January 13, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I really don't care at all if a site is flashy or it has eye catching graphics. I don't go to websites to watch TV! What I care about is if the site is easy to navigate, if it gives the information I want, and how fast it loads.

One website I go to occasionally is for my local paper. It has so many add-ons, flash graphics and other dross that it takes forever to load, and then some parts--like comment columns--take even longer.

Baloney for all the dross and the flashyness. Give me good, old fashioned availability of information and I'm happy.

BTW--what do you think add-ons such as noscript are so popular???
 
RE: Ham Radio Websites  
by AC5UP on January 13, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I drive a 23 year old car. It does almost everything a newer car would do and is paid for, but some folks say I'm behind the curve and need something more modern. Those folks are called car salesmen. My TV tells me I need a new smart phone. Which I think is funny because I don't have an old smart phone. So how smart are they?

Years ago I was all about having the latest computer hardware and operating system. Then I figured how much money I had been pissing away on such things. A few years back I threw out a couple of ESDI hard drive controllers I'd bought for better than $300 each. ESDI was better than MFM, ya' know, and easier to install. Then I upgraded to SCSI. Threw out my Adaptec AHA-1452's when I realized I no longer had any computers with a 16 bit expansion slot.

Back then I ran a pair of dial-up BBS's and it seemed reasonable to be spending around $100 a month so that anyone could call my board and read echomail for free. I was polite to the goobers who wanted me to buy every new go-fast modem because they were *thinking* about buying one. Never offered to buy the modem for me, just wanted me to buy one on my dime in case they decided to get one. And if it wasn't too much trouble let them know if I had any problems with it...

When I think back to those heady days on the bleeding edge of technology, I have to ask myself what level of insecurity or anal retentiveness it takes to worry about whether someone will visit their web site and think well of it.

As if the world needs more web sites. As if pop-up adverts are a sign of technical hipness, and as if every web site has to jump through the hoop whenever someone comes out with a new mobile or social app.

All I know is that no matter what you do today someone will decide it was hopelessly old school and inadequate tomorrow...

To those folks I say one thing: QFY
 
RE: Ham Radio Websites  
by N5XO on January 13, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I always love people who are so arrogant to think that they are the voice of all that is right.

Who elected you web God?

Has it occurred to you that not only are most hams not WEB experts, but most hams also have very limited time, they are enjoying the hobby, jobs, family lives.

Maybe if you feel so strongly about the quality of web pages you will give up your time and devote your energy to upgrading everyone's web page that does not meet your exacting standards.


 
RE: Ham Radio Websites  
by KD2AKG on January 13, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I don't really have any issues with a person's personal website. I'm impressed with what anyone is able to do. I have built my own site before and it is a time consuming PIA. What does bother me is commercial websites for ham gear that are difficult to navigate or make you put specific info in to search. It's bad enough the catalogs don't have prices.
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by K6CRC on January 13, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Most commercial ham sites are probably barely making it. Maybe just a hobby or retirement business. I am not convinced there is much money to be made servicing this hobby, so I have low expectations on commercial sites.

For individual sites? I have found a lot of good info on antennas, etc. from private sites. Most are not well designed, but, hey, this is a hobby.

The one site that really needs updating is the LoTW.
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by N9AMI on January 13, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Wow.. Give it up pal.. A guy/gal wants to give a shot at website design whats the big deal.. Worry about your own site's.
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by K9CTB on January 13, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
This post actually begs for comments. I'll simply say this: Website design is truly an art and a science. There are many people who may be very passionate about amateur radio, yet lack the skill set required to meet your particular criteria for website "quality". Hey, we can't all sing like Chris Tomlin, either! (or insert your favorite here)

73,
K9CTB
 
RE: Ham Radio Websites  
by ONAIR on January 13, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
It's not what a website looks like, it's what it tells you! Except for the retirees, most hams are so busy today trying to earn a living, run a business, and raise a family, that they hardly even have enough time for their hobby.
 
RE: Ham Radio Websites  
by WB6DGN on January 14, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
"Today there is really no reason to have a lousy looking website."

Allow me to edit that to express my own personal opinion:
"Today there is really no reason to have a website." Can't remember the last time I browsed another ham's website, if ever. Really don't remember. With the exception of times like this, when I'm really bored, I go to a site that contains information I need, find what I want (hopefully) and move on. Conversely, I see no reason for me to have a website. I'm a private person and, usually, really don't care to share my personal life with others. Likewise, my electronics activities are nothing remarkable and, I'm sure, would be of very little interest to others.
As I said before, I really haven't looked, but I suspect that, though they may not like to admit it, many other hams fit that description as well. Perhaps that explains the site appearance.
Tom
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by EI2HEB on January 14, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Hi Robert,

I see from your QRZ page that one of your interests is Web design and management.

May I ask: do you have a HAM related website? and is it "mobile" as you so comment in your article?

I love to have a look; this so I can learn how to do it once I decide to have a go at a web site.

thanks,
Edwin.
 
RE: Ham Radio Websites  
by W8QZ on January 14, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I've gotta second the comment r/e the design of Craigslist - graphically plain - but it loads *very* quickly, and is straight-forward to navigate. There's more people out there with slow internet connections than you might think - even my "1 meg" Comcast connection slows way down to near dial-up speeds around 5PM (when the cable gets overloaded) - so loading time IS important to me. If an unknown page takes longer than a minute to load, I'll give up on it.
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by W3DMS on January 14, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
This guy sounds like my ex-wife. Just looking for something to complain about. If you don't like the way someones web site looks, don't go back there. Get over it. I won't read one of your articals again. See, I'm over it already.
 
RE: Ham Radio Websites  
by G3LBS on January 14, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I think the sites should pass the Bobby or Red Hat accessibility tests and be navigable with Jaws for Windows. That is easier with simple designs.
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by G6NJR on January 14, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Flash excuse me are you sure you wanted to say that .

Flash is the main thing that is Wrong with the internet any windows user that recommends flash quite frankly needs their bumps feeling .
Flash along with html emails are 2 things that should be banned completely .

Want video go html5 but flash Oh dear
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by W2BLC on January 14, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Seems to me the author was trolling - and he got loads of bites (or bytes)!

 
RE: Ham Radio Websites  
by K1CJS on January 14, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Either that or he's got too much time on his hands or his personal hobby is surfing the internet.

BTW--this website is about ham radio, not website development.
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by KA8BMA on January 14, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I've read that it takes 10,000 hrs. to become truly proficient at a skill. If you are truly proficient at your profession, on analysis, you will find that you have made the above commitment.
I doubt many HAMs have made that investment in their websites
 
RE: Ham Radio Websites  
by K0OD on January 14, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I started an Eham thread a few years ago asking why ham commercial websites were so terrible, which they certainly were. Some of those sites have since been improved. Some have gone out of business.

One reason for the poor quality is that many date to the late 90s. Hams were early adapters to the web. A total re-do is very time consuming. But I agree with Robert. There's no excuse for the awful colors (reds and yellows), the animated gifs, and pages that are way too long.

Ham personal sites are generally bad; many ham commercial sites are shockingly so!

 
Ham Radio Websites  
by N8EHW on January 14, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I would certainly agree that simpler and faster is better. My biggest complaint about any of the sites, particularly ham club sites, is that they don't get maintained very well. No matter how simple the presentation, if the information is stale it makes the site owner look like he doesn't really care. I recently visited a club site that had a member roster that was last updated in 2005.
If you decide to do it....DO IT!
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by VE3XQQ on January 14, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Robert, you make many valid points and others have commented on them so I will not go over them again.

Age is not really an excuse for anything at all, one simply needs to do hunker down and get at it! If 80 year olds can go back to university and graduate with honours anything can be learned. So at 50 I went back to college and graduated with honours and now work full time in my field. And I am having a blast doing it!

I currently do not have a web presence and I am not a WEB design guru just your typical Attention Deficit HAM. I tend take on a challenging project because at that point and time it peaked my interest then I move onto the next shiny object. To keep things current and up to date gets boring after the initial challenge. Maybe that is why I like farming antennas in my wee residential garden plot, it always beckons for something new to cobble together.

The issue at hand is as with any technology is that you have to keep up with the tool sets. At first you could do a web site in a text editor like note pad, then came ‘Dreamweaver like’ tools, followed by ‘Joomla like’ managed sites. With each iteration of each new tool set you have to make an investment of ‘time’ in order to learn them. Hence WIKI and Blogs, you just throw in what you want when you want. Just remember beauty is in the eye of the beholder and to many Geek is good, just ask Sheldon (Big Bang Theory).

I do national Network Operating System support at work and I am not really competent at WEB publishing, hack and slash perhaps. But I am thinking of getting back onto the WEB and I have found www.3ix.org to have a simple cost effective way of getting onto the WEB with templates and all. So all I have to do is plan this out.

.... Now where did put that pencil and paper?


73 de VE3XQQ
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by W6CAW on January 14, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Your article is a waste of 1's and 0's.
Retired IT Consultant
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by XE1GXG on January 14, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
So slick equals good equals commercially viable? On a parallel note, the flashy, slick websites used by today's popular "musicians" and "artists" (read=make money with Hip Hop and other slop) do not cover up the fact that their music is crap and largely lacking in anything cutting-edge or modern, other than technological processes. Appliance music, for an appliance age. I'll stick to Beethoven and Schönberg, Ligeti and Carter. And for ham radio sites and their lack of "bling" (code for flashy jewelry that these criminals and drug traffikers sport, I do believe), I prefer content over form. But a happy mix might result in more crossover, and thus, more hams. Just the thoughts of a musician (classical) ham...
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by AE5XK on January 14, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
W6CAW, hit the nail on the head. KB6QXM whining about ham radio websites not using embedded videos and flash content is just a waste. But his complaint that ham users need to spend their time creating mobile versions of their websites so that he can have something pretty o look at on his iPhone takes the cake.

The hobby here is Ham radio, not web design. Nothing makes me sicker than to hear two web designers squawk about web sites, "OMG! Did you see the font he used? The typography is so 1997! Oh and see there he has a guestbook page. Hey Mr. Ham Radio, Geo Cities just called and want their animated GIFs back! Ha Ha"

I'd rather spend my time with a soldering iron or on the air than learning about web design. Glitzy websites are usually devoid of content and all I care about is content. Like others have mentioned, Craigslist, Wikipedia and Reddit do fine without the glitz. Drudge is a little hard on the eyes but is still okay.

Maybe you need to join eWebdesign.net and goof on ham radio websites there where you'll have an audience that appreciates the superficial.
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by ZENKI on January 14, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
So by professional

You mean also want lots of Javascripts running as well as tons flash organizing the layout.

Excuse me, but most professional websites are horrible when they enable a multi media experience, especially those running flash and java-scripts.

These web sites are privacy invasive full of web trackers and spyware. Why should hobby level web sites use this crap and sink to a moral low? Is this really necessary just convey a simple message or display some pictures? I think not

The latest professional web standard joke which is a highly unprofessional practice, is forcing users to use Facebook. Only a clown would think of system like this in the 21st century.

I want to look at and buy your product and you telling me I must be a member of facebook to look at or download your product information. This is a joke and displays a total lack of regard for basic marketing principles. I wonder how dumb businesses are hijacking all their customers for facebook. Make money dont be a evil agent.

Companies who use this practice will never get my money. Likewise companies who force you to give your contact details so you can download a brochure. These data mining web sites and companies will never get a cent of my business and I will always have a negative impression of companies like these.

Its amazing how stupid and how unprofessional businesses can be, by beating their customers on the upside of the head on the internet. The first rule of business is to make as much money and then hold onto as much of it as you can, not play stupid internet web mind games with a fancy web page. This is the problem with western companies, too much bureaucracy across all aspects of their operations and they wonder why they cant make any profit.

I agree with others, if you look at the most successful web pages. These are the web pages that use a simple clean layout.

For ham radio web pages the simplest cleanest web page is Universal Radio. No professional web page could ever do such a good job for quickly going through a catalog like the Universal Radios web page.
The only thing a "professional web designer" would do to a web page like Universal radios web page is ruin it!

Another good example is Newegg.com. Their web page is brilliant. There are millions of different computer pieces of computer equipment. You can find it faster on Newggs's web page than you can find it on the manufacturers web page designed by so called professional web companies.

These professionally designed web pages main objective seems to be dumping 10 tons of crap on any person who visits their web page. The higher the volume of crap that they dump on you, the more professional they think it is in their eyes. They should really ask themselves the question how can we do this in the simplest manner without crap overload.A good example of these types of web page are Automotive companies and Watch companies. You cant just go to their web page these days without downloading 20mb per link. Most of this stuff is crap before you even see the product. Its a firewall of crap!Even something as simple as posting a link for PDF downloading a brochure is blocked by 10 tons of garbage. The people who design these web pages are idiots not professional.
The latest game now to is E_paper and reading catalogs online. Another frustrating experience for most people. You want to look at one product and now you have to sit there downloading 100mb catalog to look at one page. Absolutely dumb, and these web designers are supposed to be marketing experts. They really idiots and obviously live in a closet.

The saddest part about the web design industry is that is just a giant bureaucracy these days who main intention is to invade peoples privacy rather than present and convey information. This is especially so for businesses who want to sell you something. If you take the medical professional industry as an example. Most of their web pages present information in a simple clean style. Businesses selling stuff should learn and get back to this simple model.




 
RE: Ham Radio Websites  
by K0IZ on January 14, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Some good responses, many miss the original point, in my opinion.

What someone (ham or other flavor) wants to do for their own personal website is totally up to them. Have one, don't, retro, leading edge, etc.

But if a ham (or other entreprenure) wants others to buy their product or items, impressions ARE important. I think the point of the original post was that hams (selling something) unnecessarily disadvantage themselves with poor (crappy!) websites.

A good website need not be flashy, but it should be quick loading. It shouldn't look like the owner is some 10 yrs behind the times. Data and links need to be current. Etc, Etc.

I think the ham business is rather small and rather difficult to make a buck. Good ideas and good products that don't appeal to the market place because of a poor website is a shame. We all lose. I see it frequently. Good post, Bob. Stirred the pot.
 
Feel the need to clarify  
by KB6QXM on January 14, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
All,

Thank you for all of your comments, both positive and negative.

As I have written professionally, I understand that many do not read articles completely, or read what pops out at them and then comment upon the comments that they emotionally attached to. Please allow me to clarify some statements and maybe there will be less negative comments.

I have built many websites and managed a multi-billion dollar corporation's B2B site and their eCommerce site. I have been building websites since the inception of the WWW and before that, I built BBS sites.

Don't take my word for it. If you have a website and you are trying to sell items to people, the website is a representation of your product and your company. In any business, a certain amount of a business is spent in marketing. A website is a marketing tool. It is a business expense. Having a web design house design a website is a part of that marketing expense. If you hire the kid down the street to put together a template website, it is a marketing expense. You could hire a college student that is studying web design.

If your company is large enough, bring in an intern.

If you are a ham with a personal website, read some of the suggestions below. There are MANY website guides online. If you don't want take my word for it, then look at the guides posted online.

Now to my first posting: Nowhere in my Op did I discount the importance of having information on your website.

** The information that you want to communicate should be there and easily accessed and read. The information should be concise and to the point. Do a spell check. Many websites, ham or others have typos,mis-spelled works and grammatical errors

** There should be no more than 3 mouse clicks from the landing page to the information that you are trying to obtain.

** The website should load fast. The arguement that some people are still on dial-up is valid, but in comparision to the number of people that have some type of broadband. (DSL, Satellite, Cable or Wireless) is small.

** If you build a site using flash, a good web developer will use server-side flash files and not client based. Client based flash is sloppy. There are up and coming technologies that will compete with flash soon anyways.

** With all of the template type sites out these days, there is no excuse to have a sloppy website with these template sites. They are simple to use, update and usually very inexpensive to host. There is also blog software, wordpress, Jumbla etc.

** Good menuing systems arw a must for good navigation of the site.

** If you have content on your site, have an ability to search for the content.

** Not too much information on one page where you have to scroll forever. This also leads to too much load time.

** In the code or the template software, put good meta tags so that people can find your site.

For instance: Ham Radio, Your callsign, Amateur Radio should be meta tags that in the website, so that the search engine webcrawler will find these words and present your site on the search results. There is a whole science behind this called SEO(Search Engine Optimization)Beyond the scope of these comments.

I am not here to teach you how to build websites. All I wanted to do was for you to honestly look at your site and ask yourself if you feel you should take some time to update it, remove old and outdated content, look at the fonts and flashing animated gifs and if they should be removed or minimized.

Maybe contact the kid down the street and have him make you a website,involve him/her and it will give you a chance to explain to them what ham radio is.

Have them build a mobile site. If you have a website, how does it look on your smartphone (if you have a smartphone)

The next generation of hams will indeed be up on the latest technology of websites. HTML5, CSS etc. etc.

As much as us hams like to build our stations, maybe if we presented it to our up and coming generation in a better light, they might want to join the ham radio train.

One last thing, what I do is not a reflection of what you do. If I happen to be into SDR, does not mean that you have to be into SDR. If I know things about web technology, does not mean you have to be into web technology. Just honestly look at your websites. Does that website reflect you in a good light?

The same with a well written resume. If it is poorly written, then no matter how talented or educated or motivated you are, you will not get a second glance.

Do the same for your website, especially if it is a commercial site and you are trying to sell products.

If you want to take this offline, feel free to join my yahoo group called Hamradioopenconversation. All comments are allowed there short of physical threats. Any topics related to ham radio, popular or unpopular topics.

73

 
RE: Feel the need to clarify  
by W2BLC on January 15, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Thank you for the "down your nose" lecture. You exemplify the persona of a legend in their own mind.

Now, let's get more on topic and move back into the realm of ham radio.
 
RE: Feel the need to clarify  
by K1CJS on January 15, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Stir it up some more. It keeps getting worse the more it's done.
 
RE: Feel the need to clarify  
by G8UBJ on January 15, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Whilst there are lots of do's and dont's associated with Web design its clear that even the professionals struggle in the face of Wannabe managers who think a picture of their dog on the website is a cool idea. Nobody would pay $1000 a day for a software developer and then suggest how to write code but everyone seems to be a self appointed expert on web design?

There are no absolute rules here and if someone wants to have a go, far be it from me to judge. Just don't complain if nobody uses the site. Its not just about presenting information, but how to find what you want easily, navigate between pages, know where you are etc in a user friendly intuitive way.

For the professionals getting it right is important, you don't want people dropping off your site due to useability, those implementing pop-us, mega menus and other such gimmicks soon pay the price.

For us hams its just a hobby. We learn't how to use computers to set up DX cluster, echo-link etc, websites are just another part of the hobby and a way for us to expand our knowledge (if you want?)

There's some good work on Web Usability. If you're interested in the subject one of the best books is "Don't Make me Think! by Steve Krug, read it and all will become clear... or clearer.. I think eHam may have already read this?

 
RE: Feel the need to clarify  
by G8UBJ on January 15, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
N.B. Mobile is a whole new channel to consider. Good UI in mobile with limited real estate is even more important.

Before diving in here are we talking about a mobile version of the website /m or an app written in native code, or making the current website tablet friendly.

Yes www.m.eham.net would be nice

 
RE: Feel the need to clarify  
by W4KVU on January 15, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
"Thank you for the "down your nose" lecture. You exemplify the persona of a legend in their own mind.

Now, let's get more on topic and move back into the realm of ham radio."

----Exactly!-----
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by N4WVE on January 15, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I'm not really interested in flashy websites. I like to see pictures and info about the particular ham, his or her family, the equipment and a bio. I don't like sites that flash, move, gyrate, talk or ask me to install plugins! Ilike my website, but others might not. That's OK...it's for informational purposes only. And it's cheap. It must not be too bad...no one has ever asked me to take it down :)
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by K8QV on January 15, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I gotta quit coming here when I'm bored. Apparently that's what everybody else does.
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by PA0WV on January 15, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
So, I waited for some time to add my comment.

I am an older then avg old timer, and I publish my hamradio hardware creations on http://pa0wv.home.xs4all.nl/zelfbouw.html

Small part of them, created the last 5 years, of my 60 years license, in order to keep provider charges limited within budget.

About 50 home brew designs on that website. More coming.

However, everybody interested can find the essential data; I am not interested in publishing for guys that want the data attractive published, so that they may or may not decide to copy my designs or ideas.

Those guys are not my target group, So that may clarify the fact that the website doesn't meet the specifications to make it attractive for the masses.

Due to its unattractive (my time saving) design I save time for them, They don't select. They and I are happy with that behavior.
 
RE: Ham Radio Websites  
by N7FAN on January 15, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
The animosity level is astounding. I think several sacred goats were challenged in this thread.

If you have a website, what do you want it to do? Why do you have it?

If you have your website to give out information to other people, then it is your best interest to make it as readable and user-friendly as possible.

The age of Geocities and MySpace is over.

If you don't have the time, or interest, in learning how to code, and you don't really want to go to wordpress route, check out Weebly.com, or others like it.

There is no excuse to having a website that causes epileptic seizures when it's viewed. Don't let the flashy stuff get in the way of the message/content you are trying to share...or people with ADD, like me, may get so stuck on the flashy stuff, we'll miss the whole point of the site completely.

Just my .02 worth.
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by N0QBH on January 15, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
When I created my website a number of years ago I intentionally kept the site simple as I correctly assumed many of the overseas hams accessing it were using dial up internet connections.
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by N9LCD on January 15, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
The quality of a website reflects on the owner/operator.
We were shopping for a new car and went with Chrysler over the other two U.S. auto makers.

Why?

One reason was their website. It was the most user-friendly of any of the Big 3 U.S. auto makers' websites. Plus they offered a narrow- or low-bandwidth option for those of us who have low-speed internet connections.

Know something? The Chrysler website looks as good in the low bandwidth option as it does in high bandwidth.

It would definitely help if website designers, either amateur or professional, had to use their "product" when it was done.

N9LCD
 
RE: Feel the need to clarify  
by AE5XK on January 15, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Based on KB6QM's shear arrogance, condescending attitude, and how he shamelessly and repeatedly patronizes his fellow hams, I believe that we should file a petition with the FCC to revoke the Billion Dollar Web Boy's license.

At the very least, downgrade his license down to permanent Technician class and let him try to hit the repeater from his Billion Dollar Multinational B2B Ivory Tower on 2 meters.

And the worst punishment of all for this Silicon Valley Sycophant, take away his smart phone so he can't access eHam through his 4G connection. Give him a 28.8kbps modem and force him to use only Flash intensive sites with a slow dial-up connection.
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by KC9V0 on January 15, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
It seems to me....That the majority of hams want to spend more time enjoying amateur radio than learning web site design. Maybe if there were more hours of free time, (even the retired guys seem to complain about not having enough time, imagine that!).
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by N4PGW on January 15, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
May I ask, What are you? Are you a professional web designer or a ham radio operator?

Have you looked at some of those sites because you wanted to see "ugly" or because you wanted information from them?

I find a lot of those "poorly designed" websites more useful, if not easier to get around, than many professionally designed sites.

Besides, design quality and beauty is a matter of taste and preference. Personally, I think this site is one of the ugly sites. I doubt it is "poorly designed" in your opinion, but maybe it is. The color scheme sucks, it is overloaded with text and flashy advertisements and it takes a lot of looking around to find anything because of all the clutter.

However, it is useful. It has links, and by following those links or using the search feature, i can find information I want from the site.

(Nothing personal to the designer/owner of this site.)

The other sites may be the same. Some of the less-professional sites are cleaner and easier to navigate, or they have very limited, yet very useful, information on them.

Much of that useful information I gathered from those "poorly designed" websites would not even be available if the owner had to hire the likes of a "professional web designer" to do the work.

I have also seen amateurs go behind the expensive professionals and make a site look better and be more useful for free. Just because someone charges money means they do a better job. Just because it looks good doesn't mean it is useful!

Ham radio operators need to worry about using their radio, not being criticized because they didn't hire a professional to share their most valuable knowledge
 
RE: Ham Radio Websites  
by AC7CW on January 15, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I built electronic prototypes for engineers and managed an engineering lab. Technical people just don't have aesthetic sense.. I used to build things, I had access to various materials, had a great label maker, etc.. and I'm a photographer with a developed eye.. so I would ask the engineer "how do you want this item to look? I can make a nice panel with this and that".. the reply would always be "I don't care how it looks". The labs were piled up with dilapidated looking garbage and nobody cared... I found it depressing, above and beyond the personalities, even..
 
RE: Ham Radio Websites  
by AE5QB on January 16, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Are you totally turned off by the look of a web site? Then turn the big knob....errr, I mean click the little x at the top of the page. Bottom line, as an individual, I don't give a rats tailend if you like or dislike my web site.

If I were a commercial vendor, that would be a different story and would pay the outrageous prices that web masters charge. Seriously, for what they do,web masters are outrageously overpaid. Most of them just plug a few photos and some text into a canned design. Web design is really not the creative process that people would ask you to believe it is. Have you ever noticed how most commercial web sites tend to look very similar. Can you say, template folks?

But as an individual I really don't see where it is any of your business. If you have nothing better to do than check out individual web sites and pass judgement on them, then I recommend you get an additional hobby, or at least a life of some kind.

Just sayin. Geez!

I think we need to start up an ugly web site net or an ugly web site yahoo group where we can celebrate the 99% of us not blessed by nature with a beautiful web site. I think I am starting to have self esteem issues over this.
 
RE: Ham Radio Websites  
by AE5QB on January 16, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I disagree with you a bit Max. Sure there are a lot of engineers whose job it is to make things work - not an easy task. But there are entire fields of engineering that deal with absolutely nothing more than ergonomics, usability, and aesthetics. Manufacturers recognize the importance of curb appeal and in some cases products actually look better than their underlying engineering really makes them. It takes a lot of different types to engineer a new car. There are those who focus on making that transmission last half a million miles and really aren't concerned with the comfort of the drivers seat and those who know nothing about getting the last ounce of mileage out of a drop of gasoline and work on making a piece of plastic look like the most expensive piece of rare wood. Different strokes, they say. I wouldn't paint all engineers with your broad brush no more than I would say all of those who call themselves artists actually create something worthy of being called art. We seem to have a lot of crap lying around the city that taxpayers paid a lot of money for in the name of art.
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by KE4ZHN on January 16, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I wonder if the author is related to Al Gore? He comes across with the same huge ego and talks as if he invented the internet so there may be a connection.
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by KT4EP on January 16, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
1. No, not everyone wants to do everything mobile.

2. I don't care for flashy websites. Just give me the basic information. I can click a few extra times to find what I want.

3. I'm thankful that other hams take the time to post their thoughts, ideas, software (many times free), diagrams, articles, .. you name it .. on the web.

4. Yes, eventually, these old fogy antique dinosaur websites will fade away and then we'll be left with vapid, bling-filled sites of information, most of the time, repetitive with nothing new to offer.

 
Ham Radio Websites  
by N2RJ on January 16, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I like simplicity. If you are a code ninja and you can design the latest HTML5/AJAX uber web 2.0 homepage to the stars, knock yourself out.

But if you have a plain document with markup and hyperlinks, that's fine too. Cebik's site (before he died) and W8JI.com come to mine. Those are excellent websites despite not being flashy.

But please:

Don't force huge lettering on all of us (the visually impaired can adjust their font size)
No animated GIFs. They are ridiculous.
Adobe Flash? Only if absolutely necessary. And by that I mean only if you're running farmville.
No music
No video popups
No annoying popup ads
 
RE: Ham Radio Websites  
by GILGSN on January 16, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
There is a difference between clear and fast loading and old fashioned and bad looking.. You can have a very modern site being very simple and fast loading.. In truth, most of those Ham sites are created and maintained by older operators who have not kept up with technology and design. I have to agree, I have a few hobbies, and Ham sites are by far the worst looking sites. That said, design requires an artistic side that Ham operators do not always have. It's just a different part of the brain. I am a programmer, but I can't make a site look good. That's someone else's job. I make them work.. Artists are not often interested in Ham radio, and vice-versa...
The solution is to use pre-packaged software, like Wordpress. Install it, choose a theme you like and you're in business.. Want to sell stuff? Use OSCommerce.. There are so many Ham stores that need such a shopping cart, it's amazing they sell anything online at all.. Hell, I'll trade products for cart installation with you ;-) I have seen many Ham blogs using Wordpress and they look good. So, if like me you are technically oriented, don't try to be MichaelAngelo.. Use something already made or ask someone who knows how to make things look good..

Gil.
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by N4PGW on January 17, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
KB6QXM - ROBERT J COSTA,
comes in here criticizing hams for their "poor design" websites. However, in his profile, he doesn't list one for himself.

So, Robert, how do you criticize others when you don't even have your own? Or is it you are too ashamed of your own site to add it to your profile?
 
RE: Ham Radio Websites  
by STRAIGHTKEY on January 17, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
>how do you criticize others when you don't even have your own

I don't have my own medical degree, but I think I can tell when I have a lousy doctor.
 
RE: Ham Radio Websites  
by AC7CW on January 18, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
AE5QB.. well yeah, not saying that engineers should be generating art all day every day but the fact is I gave them the opportunity to dress things up and they never cared enough about it to even say "knock yourself out". All they had to do was say "sure, make it look nice, that might be interesting" and they just never did that.. they are not artists by nature probably but some of those labs were so horrendously and needlessly ugly that it amounted to crimes against nature!
 
RE: Ham Radio Websites  
by N9LCD on January 19, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
A website is supposed to communicate information.

A website is NOT supposed to be:

A display of the designer's technical and/or artistic abilities.

A monument to the owner's ability to spend money on a website.

A monument to bad taste.


N9LCD
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by KC2WI on January 19, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Here's the thing: How many "professional" web sites have you gone to that look really slick, but you quickly discover can't find anything on them; or because of all the eye candy they take so long to load even on a high speed connection? Just because you can use Flash, embedded video/sound, drop-down menus, javascript, or even just graphics, doesn't mean you have to - or even should, unless it imparts useful info.

For the life of me I can't figure out what value most of the glitz is when you're actually looking for information (for example driver downloads, etc.) A nicely-formatted, well-organized, mostly text page is superior. Loads fast on any connection with any computer, doesn't waste bandwidth, easy to use.
 
RE: Ham Radio Websites  
by STRAIGHTKEY on January 19, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
>How many "professional" web sites have you gone to that look really slick, but you quickly discover can't find anything on them

See also: www.arrl.org.
 
RE: Ham Radio Websites  
by KQ9J on January 20, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I really dislike a lot of the web pages served up today. The trend seems to be to cram as much into the page as possible, video and audio that begin to play automatically, content being pulled in from a dozen other sources as the page loads, lots of glitzy flashy crap that just slows everything down. And it is not my internet connection, I can download a full dvd in just a few minutes. Keep the pages simple. Bells and whistles and fancy crap add nothing of substance. A simple hyperlink suffices. If I want mindless entertainment, I'll watch TV.
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by WB2LQF on January 20, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I spent 30 years at IBM. I know a little something about technology and "keeping up." I also acknowledge the pure joy and relaxation that 53 years in this hobby has provided me. I don't really want to "take sides" in this discourse. I just want to acknowledge that what may seem "amateurish" to some could very well be the designer's first foray into something he or she never did before. There's room for all of us. It's *only* a hobby, albeit the best hobby in the world!
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by K3LUE on January 21, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I've been working with webpages for over 20 years, have taught webpage construction. Usually, first attempts are not the best but it's a statement, staking out your cyberspace territory, having your say. First attempts usually have lots of moving pics and off-colors. Sometimes the use of different fonts make it look like a ransom note but remember, a webpage is never done....a work in progress. Sometimes we get caught up, in this day and age, in appearance and not the content. Give a break. With my current page, instead of going through the buying domains, hosting etc, I found a service, free, called wix.com where you can use templates, add your own and have a very good looking site. There is a learning curve but what doesn't have that these days.
Check out wix.com and see me at k3lueusa.wix.com/k3lue for a peek at what can be done and a little about this set of call letters.
73 Ron
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by K3LUE on January 21, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I've been working with webpages for over 20 years, have taught webpage construction. Usually, first attempts are not the best but it's a statement, staking out your cyberspace territory, having your say. First attempts usually have lots of moving pics and off-colors. Sometimes the use of different fonts make it look like a ransom note but remember, a webpage is never done....a work in progress. Sometimes we get caught up, in this day and age, in appearance and not the content. Give a break. With my current page, instead of going through the buying domains, hosting etc, I found a service, free, called wix.com where you can use templates, add your own and have a very good looking site. There is a learning curve but what doesn't have that these days.
Check out wix.com and see me at k3lueusa.wix.com/k3lue for a peek at what can be done and a little about this set of call letters.
73 Ron
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by K3FHP on January 21, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Sadly, I must dissagree. I don't know about you, but when I go to a 'Ham Radio' web page, I am usually looking for information. I am no seeking entertainment. In my opinion, most web pages have become to large(in MB), overly complex and, if you have an older computer(as many hams relegate their older computers to exclusive ham radio use), slow. My HR computers run XP or maybe vista, so please, give me a smaller, more succinct page without the extra junk. What ever happened to KISS? Just because you CAN put something on a page does not mean you should. Just my thoughts, thanks.
 
RE: Ham Radio Websites  
by KB6QXM on January 21, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
All,

Thank you for all of your comments, positive or negative. I must admit that the negitive comments lacked civility. I also realize that most of you did not understand the intention of my post.

My post was to point out that most ham sites look bad either in formatting, presentation or layout. I understand that most of you do not want to be web designers. Understood.I still think that commercial web sites, especially if they are trying to sell products have no excuse for a bad looking site.

What I failed to communicate to you is that there are plenty of template-based FREE sites that you can plug your pictures (if you have pictures), your text and away you go. The sites look good, you can have all of your information that you want, but they are easy to read, easy to navigate, simple and quick to do and easy to edit, so that you can do what you like to do which in amateur radio.

What I found disappointing was that you can disagree with me, but in a classy way and with some manners.

I guess that manners and civility went out with the code testing (probably before)

You can always disagree, it just is how you disagree is what reflects who you are as a person.

Some disagreed, but were civil about it, some agreed and understood what I was trying to say, some were neutral and then there was the rude crowd.

Hope not to find any of the rude crowd on the air.

If you have a bad looking or have an outdated site and do not want to do anything about it, fine. If you have a nice looking site, great.

Then there are the few that might have understand what I was trying to convey and are offline improving their site.

73
Robert
Ham Radio Open Conversation Yahoo group owner/moderator
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by N7XEI on January 21, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Having a background in web and so on, I know I have an ugly personal web page. And I have no problem with ugly personal web pages.

What bugs me are most of the commercial ham radio web sites, mainly online stores. I do not feel comfortable giving my credit card to a company that apparently does not take their website seriously. If they are lax on the front end, how do I know they are serious on the back end, mainly security?

And have you ever tried searching some of these sites? If you do not know what brand and model you are looking for, forget it. And casual browsing is almost impossible!

For only a modest investment, they could have a great shopping cart program. And for about the same investment, they could hire someone to design a nice custom template. Heck, many web hosting companies have "package deals" on store fronts! I know, I was the guy that hired web designers for a former company I sold 8 years ago.

Personal pages? They are just that, personal. I bet the web pages look a lot like their ham shack, Hi Hi!
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by KC9SNB on January 21, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Some are better than others. Most of us aren’t web designers. For that matter most of us are not professional radio operators. So saying our websites are not all up to pro standards, is like saying we can’t get around the world and the local area on our radios like professionally run television and radio stations. Of course we can’t. This is a hobby. At any rate, you seem to be talking largely about style over substance. Of the two, I would rather have substance. I have gotten a lot of great technical information off of some aesthetically pretty unpleasing sites – and was happy to get it. I have included a link to my site. It is not flashy; but it loads quickly, and does what it needs to do.

http://www.notpurfect.com/main/amat.htm
 
RE: Ham Radio Websites  
by G8HQP on January 22, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
HTML was invented by a physicist to aid information transfer. It rightly concentrates on the structure of that information. Unfortunately, people brought up on the WYSIWYG view of the world (which concentrates on superficial visual appearance rather than structure) insist on abusing HTML (e.g. by using tables for visual formatting of unrelated information). Then they insist that others do the same.

I will continue to use HTML for what it was intended for. Simple HTML written using any text editor should load quickly and display correctly in any browser. People who want clever visual design or entertainment will not enjoy my website; it is not meant for them. People seeking information may find something useful. People reading my stuff are unlikely to be doing it on a mobile.
 
RE: Ham Radio Websites  
by G8UBJ on January 22, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I fail to see how anyone here can generate a clean functional website when they produce such verbose confused and confusing text messages.
 
RE: Ham Radio Websites  
by W3TTT on January 23, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Remind me to never say anything negative on the air or on this blog.
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by KB6NU on January 23, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I do websites for a living--well, at least part of my living--and like the author have been amazed by the poor design of some commercial ham radio sites. I often thought that it might be profitable to solicit work from these companies.

Then, it occurred to me that the reason that commercial ham radio websites are so bad is that the companies, like ham radio operators in general, are just cheap. They don't see the value in spending money on their websites.

So, I gave up on that idea. Instead of beating my head against a wall, I decided that it would be more profitable to find clients that find real value in a good-looking website and are willing to pay for a professional job.
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by N7CAL on January 24, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Take a look at some of the ESSB sites, NU9N.com is fantastic, WZ5Q.net . Real style,, my site is just one of my own styling. Its not "Web correct" but I went for what I like. After all, we are amateurs
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by N0UN on January 27, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
In your post, you've called out some Hams and Ham Radio corporations for their "cheezy" and "outdated" (amongst other things) websites? And you didn't even name a single one. Well...

Funny, there's a majority of common folk (with proof) that think the EXACT same thing of Ham Radio - IN ITS ENTIRETY.

When you dish it out, you've got to be able to take it. You opened the door. Maybe a little less Ham Radio related website surfing and a little more studying to upgrade may serve our hobby better?

"Don't feed the dinosaurs"

N0UN
http://www.n0un.net
 
RE: Ham Radio Websites  
by KB6NU on January 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
OK, I'll bit.

What's the proof that "common folks" think that amateur radio in its entirety is cheezy and outdated?
 
RE: Ham Radio Websites  
by N0UN on January 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
For starters, after trying to get some kids involved in Ham Radio, their consensus was, "Morse Code, radios, antennas and all this big expensive stuff? For what? Why don't you just call them on the phone? Is this how they used to do it?"

I did manage a breakthrough on one 12 year old, he went and got his Tech. I think he felt sorry for his Uncle.

In talking with them after the fact, it was apparent they listened only because they thought they had to, but amongst themselves they thought I was an old dinosaur that didn't have a clue as to how the universe operates.

I had to laugh because that's exactly what I thought of my folks and their generation when I was a kid. They were all from outer space. But the difference between then and now is video games, Internet and cell phones top the list of this generation. Ham Radio doesn't even make the long list, let alone the short.

N0UN
http://www.n0un.net
 
RE: Ham Radio Websites  
by KB6NU on January 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
That's not proof. That's anecdotal evidence.

Here, we have quite a few kids with ham radio licenses. The most memorable were two brothers who attended one of my Tech classes. They both got licenses and have been having fun with amateur radio.

I am the station manager for the amateur radio station at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum (www.wa2hom.org). We get a lot of kids come by the station, and while they're not all interested, we get a good percentage who are. We put them on the air, teach them how to send their names in Morse Code, and they seem to get a kick out of it.

We also get a good turnout when we do the Jamboree on the Air here. This last year, we had probably a dozen Scouts all told.

But, this is getting off topic. Even if amateur radio is getting older, that's no reason ham radio websites should look like they were designed in the 1990s.
 
RE: Ham Radio Websites  
by W5DXP on January 29, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Some of us who could afford to use the latest whiz-bang digital modes still prefer native CW. Some of us abide by the KISS principle, i.e. using the least complicated method that gets the task accomplished.
--
73, Cecil, w5dxp.com
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by KB7XU on February 5, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Hey ZENKI! I agree 100% with your post. The last thing I want to see when I'm shopping for ham gear or just surfing ham articles is a site that takes longer to load than my coffe pot takes to brew 12 cups.

The less razzle-dazzle that I encounter the better mood I'm in when it comes time to pull out the credit card.

It would be nice to have an efficient search engine when I'm trying to track down a product or an idea. And I prefer to spend money with that web site if I'm shopping.

And Facebook? Screw it; I don't have time for those fluffers and I'll keep my money in my pocket until I find a web site where customer service is the goal and not bling slinging.
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by G6NJR on February 6, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Well i have just had chance to look at the so called sites of good design hummmm take for instance

http://www.n0un.net takes ages to load has a ruddy great image of some form needing a special plugin to view it bad or what several of the other sites wont even load ..

Long way to go ..
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by KF7ZWO on February 6, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I wasn't going to pitch in, but I can't help notice that there is a fundamental disconnect in what people think is good web design. Good web design has nothing to do with flash or html5 or any other specific technology, though it can include those things. It has nothing to do with long load times. It has nothing to do with the majority of criticisms I've read above. Good web design has everything to do with whether the website effectively serves its purpose. You may think that this is subjective, and a small portion of it is, but it's mostly objective and can be seen in how the web has developed since its inception in the early 90's.

I've been involved in ham radio for an extremely short time (only since last September and I passed my Technician and General tests in November). As I started doing a lot of research, I too was struck almost immediately with how unreadable and user-unfriendly so many ham sites are, not to mention the sites wanting to take my credit card in business transactions.

If you like your website just the way it is, more power to you. I have no problem with that. I'll try to glean the information I need no matter what the website looks like. If your company is on a shoe-string budget and can't afford an upgrade, that's just the way it goes and hopefully you'll be able to update things when business is better. I'm just saying that if your purpose is to disseminate information and your site makes it hard for someone to receive that information, doesn't that defeat the whole purpose of all the work that you're putting into it?

Here's some examples of content-rich websites with good design:

wikipedia.org
google.com
eHam.net
bing.com

Many have meantioned the new arrl.org site. While the new design and look-and-feel are good, if you can't find what you're looking for, it makes it bad by default.

Do you want to know, in my opinion, the worst designed site on the internet? GoDaddy.com! They're a hosting company. They should know better!!! (Sorry, I've been knee deep in their site for the past couple hours and am ready to shoot something).

There are so many web apps that are so easy to set up that will turn any website into something readable, searchable, and useable. Just look into it and you may be surprised at how easy it is even for a non-web developer. If you don't mind changing hosts, try squarespace.com. They have beautiful templates that give you everything you need and handle the transition to cell phone/tablet screens incredibly well.

There's also the issue of how the hobby is being portrayed to the younger generation. If it's a big turn-off to newcomers because of the dated look and the difficulty to find what they are looking for, how long will the FCC keep our bands available to us if no new blood is infused into the hobby?

Anyway, I'm not trying to step on toes or insult anyone on their pride and joy website. I'm sure this whole thread was meant to be a constructive conversation and wasn't meant to tear anyone down.

Please take this in the spirit it was meant and hopefully if you ever hear me on the bands, you'll want to talk to me in spite of what I've written.

Thanks for letting me put out my 2 cents.
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by KK4JUG on February 7, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I think most operators want information more than they want flashing lights and glamour. A web site is actually easy to design, IF you want just the basic stuff. If you want flashing graphics, things that fade in and out, etc., it takes a little more. Most ham operators are just that, ham operators, and not web site designers.

I, for one, just want the "down and diry" info. And, it's easier to copy and paste if it's reference material that I might want to keep.
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by WB8ROL on February 9, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
It's probably already been said BUT I'll say it again. The reason why most ham radio sites are minimal AND why most ham radio software is ugly, awful, and poorly designed AND why most hams do really poor at brain surgery is that they are MORE INTERESTED IN HAM RADIO.

:-) ... -.-
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by WB8ROL on February 9, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Oh, yeh BTW - it is even worse that most hams will buy 15-20 year old computers too hihi Maybe that's the reason they can't design flashy websites when they are running 256k memory and monochromatic monitors .... And those 5 1/4 floppies don't hold a lot of stuff hihi

:-) ...- .- -.-. .-..
 
Ham Radio Websites  
by G4LJW on February 16, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I've set up a few websites using standard templates, and it only takes a few minutes to get a pleasing-looking page. I generally like to keep it easy to read - black text on a light background, and don't plaster the site with lots of other colours. I'm not sure why some people think a bright green background is a good idea!!

If you do a search for "blogspot amateur radio" (without the quotes), you'll see a fair number of simple and easy-to-read sites. Google runs blogger.com, and you can set up lots of sites on one account for no charge at all, which is nice!

best wishes,

Jon.
 
RE: Ham Radio Websites  
by KB6QXM on February 24, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Thank you all for your comments.

As I know that this article will soon be put into the archives, I wanted to thank you all for your comments.

Please understand that this article was a positive article to have one stand back and go "yes" I need to update my website as I designed it 10 years ago and much of the data is outdated.

Many hams know that there are many turn-key templates out there to make a nice looking site without much effort and no web design knowledge needed.

A few hams took my article as a insult to their efforts and will keep that old poorly designed website up and running until they are a SK, no matter what.

Some hams could care less, one way or another. No matter what, it was an enjoyable experience to see the responses and the type of responses.

I ran stats on the comments. Mostly negative or dismissive of my comments, some positive and understanding of my point and the rest of the comments were neutral and they did not care one way or another or had to chime in with a comment.

Overall a very eye-opening exercise in the ham population on 2013.

73 all!
 
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