A recent support call had a puzzled client with a mysterious bit of lost functionality on their website. We quickly narrowed it down to their browser and a tightening of the rules attached to third-party plug-ins.
This particular site used a natty set of share buttons that readers could use to share out the client’s blog posts to their own network. So far so good. And from a marketing and SEO perspective the sentiment is bang on. If you’ve got good content on your site, make it easy to share and gain the incoming ‘Googlejuice’.
Can’t we just write it ourselves?
The easy answer for web developers is to control the turf and not implement third-party scripts. Easy, but not helpful or practical. We live in a connected ecosystem of complex technologies interlinked. If we have a choice between (simply) developing our own code and using something off the shelf, we’ll build our own. But it doesn’t make commercial sense to continually reinvent the wheel in search of purism, so like everyone else we use plug-ins.
Every now and then we get tripped up by the browsers. This latest problem was caused by a change in the rules Chrome and Firefox uses to block tracking scripts. It’s good for end users to have control, but it’s bad that they have to become ‘apprentice geeks’ to understand what their web browser is doing. In this case it was stopping those useful buttons working.
A similar thing happened earlier in the year when the browsers started issuing warnings for regular HTTP websites collecting data. We strongly suggest websites should be upgraded to ‘HTTPS’ (SSL) but it’s another example of having to respond to the changing security landscape.
What does this mean for my website?
All this is a roundabout way of saying “some things aren’t predictable until they’ve happened!” But when they do happen we try to fix things as quickly as we can. Even if we didn’t break it.
Technical notes from the browser makers…