Inheriting a mess of Web pages?

Subject: Inheriting a mess of Web pages?
From: "Geoff Hart" <Geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Mon, 20 Sep 1999 10:27:14 -0400

Donna Horowitz <<...has just inherited the web duties from
the outgoing graphic artist in the communications
department... All the materials are in a pile or in a folder on
the LAN; nothing is organized, nor do they have any
priorities as far as projected changes or additions.>>

Deja vu. That's almost exactly the situation I find myself in,
so boy can I empathize! When I dig out from under all the
other crises and have time to look at the web stuff, my first
step will be to impose some kind of order on chaos. Investing
a few hours up front should make the rest of my life with the
site much easier. And hopefully, I'll be able to hand that
responsibility off to someone else down the road.

<<The current hot project is a marketing promotion for a tool.
They are sending out a fax to all the auto dealerships to tell
them they can buy this tool online. The order form to do this
is not even generated, let alone put on the site. In addition,
they have information blocks on the form for credit card
numbers . . ., but the site is not secure.>>

Liability in this sense is a sticky issue; rather than listening to
our speculation, you should really contact the company that
processes your credit card orders and get written instructions
(since then you've got proof in writing that you followed their
advice) from them. Your law firm should also participate, but
may be unable to provide the necessary advice if electronic
commerce isn't one of their specialties.

<<My first challenge is to make sure the company doesn't do
anything that risks liability issues... should we put a page out
that requests information without providing security to our

I'm obviously responding way too late, but you do have a few
options you can try implementing retroactively and as short-
term solutions until you get official solutions from your credit
card processor and law firm:
1. Change the site so the customers can fill in all the
necessary information online _except the credit card_ info,
and submit it to you. (So they can still order online and thus
honor the promises in the fax!) Your company would then
phone back to obtain the credit card info, confirm details, and
ship the tool.
2. Post a disclaimer that the customer must read and accept
before being able to enter the credit card info: "This is not a
secure site. Although the risk of credit card fraud on the
Internet is widely considered to be low, you should cancel
this transaction now if you have any concerns about the
security of your card. Call us at.... between the hours of... to
order the tool directly."

All these assumptions assume that you can't contact a
manager with the authority to put a hold on this new Web
page until the company is prepared to handle it properly.
Freezing the project to buy some breathing room to research
a proper solution would be the best approach. That would let
you find a middleman who can handle the transactions and
provide the necessary security. Your credit card people may
be able to set you up directly; if not, Peter Kent's Web site
( should provide all the links you'll
ever need to do your research and recommend an option.

--Geoff Hart @8^{)} geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca (Pointe-Claire, Quebec)
"Perhaps there is something deep and profound behind all those sevens, something just calling out for us to discover it. But I
that it is only a pernicious, Pythagorean coincidence." George Miller, "The Magical Number Seven" (1956)

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