Bad Practices, Spam and Irate Web Designers

Today I received an e-mail touting a new book and website hosting service that I consider not only spam but very poor advice for budding website designers and genealogists. My friend Tina Clarke wrote about it on her blog Bad Practices, Spam and Irate Web Designers.

After reading parts of their material and the methods they suggest using, I shudder to think of how many genealogists will buy the book and follow their advice for designing a website.

I echo Tina’s closing statement:

“. . . .the owners of this book and site sent the email to the wrong two people who feel strongly about valid and accessible code. (My good friend Pat Geary also received this email). Hence this post from two irate web designers.”

They offer a free download of the first chapter of the book which includes the following:

Appendix F: Website Authoring Applications

This appendix presents detailed information on the two website authoring applications we recommend, Microsoft Word and Microsoft Publisher, and how to use them to create a genealogy website. A website authoring application creates the HTML files of the website. Also, the website authoring application should be capable of producing, in a straight-forward project, the genealogy book from the genealogy website. “The Book” as it is called in this guide is the traditional product of genealogy research and the dream of many genealogists.

“. . . . the two website authoring applications we recommend, Microsoft Word and Microsoft Publisher, and how to use them to create a genealogy website.” I have to admit, I did not get much beyond this. If you were going to build a house, you would select the proper tools for that job. If you were going to bake a cake, you would select the proper tools for that job. Microsoft Word is a word processor and a perfect tool for writing letters, books, etc. Items that are going to be PRINTED to paper. Micrsoft Publisher is a desktop publishing program and the tool to use for all kinds of publications destined for print. While both of these programs have the capabilities of saving pages in html format are they they best programs for creating a website? Absolutely not!

Both create bloated code, both create code that will not validate. Additional articles on using MS Word as a Web Publisher:

I have both installed on my computer. I use both programs BUT NOT for creating websites. There are many web editors you can choose for building your website. I list some of them on the right sidebar at Resources for Website Design.

So when you are ready to design your website, choose the best tool for the job, just as you would when building a house or baking a cake.

UPDATE: As of yesterday, Feb 22, 2008, I received two more unwanted e-mails offering a discounted price off of  “their book.”

This is a comprehensive guide which covers every aspect of creating a genealogy website. Why do you need a genealogy website? All genealogy research in the future will involve the use of the internet. This means all genealogists should stake out their claim to their little corner of the internet ASAP. Now’s the time to start your own genealogy website. This book will show you that creating a genealogy website is no harder than creating any complex document such as a senior thesis, big term paper or a large report.

My opinion on this has not changed. Pick the best tool for the job. Microsoft Word and/or Publisher are meant to be used for print documents. While both programs have the capabilities to save as a html page, neither of these is the tool you should be using to create your web pages.


  1. Thank you for posting this! I know that some people are just so excited to get their information “out there” that they use whatever they have.

    When you’re building a genealogy site, the purpose isn’t to make money, but merely to have a place for your information. One thing I think that is overlooked is the capability of Family History programs to generate a decent site (PAF specifically), though often the sites are very large depending on your ged file.

    Getting the correct tools doesn’t have to cost a dime, but there will be time to invest to learn the ropes.

    I sincerely wish Microsoft would remove it’s “webpage” options though. Sigh!

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