How not to do the web:

I haven’t blogged for a while. I’ve been meaning to, had lots rattling around, but until now haven’t had sufficient motivation (read: annoyance) to find the time.

Seeking to make a simple purchase from the re-branded Kingsway website has just changed all of that. A masterclass in how not to do it.

Fail 1: Abuse of the word “worship”
OK, I accept that this is a bit of a theological argument and a personal bugbear, but the whole name of the site winds me up before I’ve started. It’s based on an (in my opinion) false, limited, misleading and unhelpful definition of “worship” as being primarily about music and song. That, ladies and gentlemen, is rubbish.

Also, even if you accept the dodgy, blinkered, intellectually challenged classic unthinking-(Evangelical)Christian meaning, it’s still arrogant, presumptuous, and bollocks. “We Are uWorship”. No, no you’re not. You’re a commercial organisation seeking to make profit by selling product into a religious marketplace. That, however you cut it, is not worship. Although it could be conducted in a manner that demonstrates worship. Emphasis on “could”.

The above is the condensed rant. The full rant is much  more likely to break the Internet than Kim Kardashian’s bottom, so I’ll spare you, as it’s also a tangent.

Fail 2: Forced registration
I want to buy one piece of sheet music. For £1.49. This is a simple transaction. But I must register in order to make a purchase.

OK, registration is free, but it’s a pain. And I’d rather not. I don’t want e-shots, I don’t want free stuff, I just want this one thing. I know how I will interact with the site over time, and I know that the more they force on me, the more I will look for alternatives. It’s in their interest to let me have the option to just walk in, buy the item, and walk out. But I can’t.

Fail 3: Dreadful, broken registration process
It turns out that all of the fields on the form are compulsory.

Email address and password, fine, that makes sense.

Name? OK.

Postal address? Hrm. I get that you’ll need it for the card details, but if I purchase anything that needs shipping, but do I have to give it now? Well, OK.

Church I attend. Really? I mean, really? What if I don’t attend one? What if I’d prefer not to say? What possible relevance does this have, other than for you to infer inaccurate information for marketing stats? Sod off and just sell me the sheet music already.

Denomination. OK, now you’re just being irritating. It doesn’t matter. What if I don’t have a denomination? What if I believe that denominations are bunk? Why do you even care? And to make it worst, it’s a forced pick-list. With no “prefer not to say”. No “none of the above”.

To add insult to injury, the list is chaos. “Mennonite” features twice for no reason; there is a mixture of things that actually are denominations (e.g. Baptist, URC, Methodist) with broad categories (e.g. Protestant, Evangelical) and theological positions (e.g. Apostolic). The list is incoherent, incomplete, makes no provision for the fact that (assuming you’re happy to give the information) you may actually span multiple categories, or that there’s a distinct difference between “Baptist” in the UK and “Baptist” in the southern states of the USA, or gradations of Methodist, or … anything, really. And further, it makes no provision for saying “None of your business”. This makes it annoying for me, and pointless for WAW as it doesn’t provide the accurate data they clearly want for internal use.

Position in church. OH GIVE ME STRENGTH! This should so clearly be optional it’s untrue.

What do you do if you don’t go to a church but have an interest in religious music, and wish to complete a (compulsory) registration form honestly? You lose. And so do WAW because their database gets poisoned with rubbish data.

Fail 4: Hidden compulsions
Assuming you capitulate and fill in all the irrelevant crap (which you have to if you want to buy your sheet music), you’re then left with some check boxes to indicate what you’re interested in, and what e-shots you do (or don’t) want to receive.

These are not flagged as compulsory. However, experimentation indicates that if you don’t tick at least one thing, you will never receive the verification email required to access your account. Presumably because the form-mail script makes broken assumptions and craps out as it receives an empty array for one of its fields, judging by the mental acuity demonstrated so far in the rest of the process.

It takes some trial and error to discover this. Presumably they’ve only tested for people who are delighted to give out as much irrelevant marketing info as possible and pay no attention to what they’re doing.

Fail 5: Forced storage of Credit Card details
Having gone through the above somewhat lack-witted process you get to make your purchase. At which point you are asked for card details. Fair enough, you have to pay somehow.

What isn’t fair enough is that these details are then automatically stored, without option. If you don’t want to store your CC details, you have to go back into your account afterwards to delete them. That’s just bad practice. There is also an implication (although I haven’t tested this, so it may not be the case) that the CVV2 code is stored. If it is, not only is that poor, it’s illegal.

Fail 6: Social media
If you have a Twitter account, monitor it. I was sufficiently in a childish strop that I tweeted a few things to them. No response, at all, so far (admittedly only a few hours ago, but modern world, social media, 24/7 living, and prominently placed on their site, so …). Yes, I was being arsey and petulant, but not actually offensive (by my standards, at any rate). And yes, probably the account is only used to push out marketing guff, and quite likely from the USA (although it’s the UK-specific identity). But it doesn’t help matters.

End Result
So, where has WeAreWorship’s shoddy, poorly coded, ill-thought-out and cruddy approach to web trading left me?

I’ve given in, because I need the sheet music (actually, I don’t, but some members of the band do, and it’s not fair to make them struggle). So WAW have got my details, and I’ve gone back in and deleted the CC bits.

It has also annoyed me. In terms of actually finding stuff, the old Kingsway site, and the current WAW is actually quite good. It has a lot of content, and it is not unreasonably priced if you just need the one copy, and I have no problem with the people that produce these things making a living. It is a good resource; it’s just a crying shame that it pisses you (well me) off so thoroughly in the process.

However, it has convinced me yet further that Kingsway as was, WAW as is, are the epitome of all that is wrong with the “Christian Music Industry”, providing an unholy hybrid of buying in to an invasive, rapacious capitalist business model with “they’re Christians, they’ll comply” and even worse “it’s a Christian thing, so we’ll ape the secular world, but do it in a particularly crap way, because, well, it’s Christian”. Great way to demonstrate you’re worship (sic), guys; good skills.

On the other hand, it’s pissed me off enough to write a blog, so who knows, it may kickstart me into some more catharsis. Not sure whether that’s a net good or not!