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Talking point – broken windows (and websites)

In case you’re wondering about the title of this blog – Broken Windows – it has nothing to do with a certain piece of software, created by Microsoft, failing. It’s actually looking at real broken windows and more specifically the Broken Window Theory.

In case you’re not familiar with this theory, here’s a wee bit of background to get you started.

The Broken Windows theory, first studied by Philip Zimbardo and introduced by George Kelling and James Wilson, holds that visible indicators of disorder, such as vandalism, loitering, and broken windows, invite criminal activity and should be prosecuted as a result.

This form of policing has been tested in several real-world settings. It was heavily enforced in the mid 1990s under New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, and Albuquerque, New Mexico, Lowell, Massachusetts, and the Netherlands later experimented with this theory.

The broken windows theory states that any visible signs of crime and civil disorder, such as broken windows (hence, the name of the theory) vandalism, loitering, public drinking, jaywalking, and transportation fare evasion, create an urban environment that promotes even more crime and disorder (Wilson & Kelling, 1982).

As such, policing these misdemeanours will help create an ordered and lawful society in which all citizens feel safe and crime rates, including violent crime rates, are low.

Broken windows policing tries to regulate low-level crime to prevent widespread disorder from occurring. If these small crimes are greatly reduced, then neighbourhoods will appear to be more cared for.

The hope is that if these visible displays of disorder and neglect are reduced, violent crimes might go down too, leading to an overall reduction in crime and an increase in public safety.

Source: Charlotte Ruhl, published 26 July 2021

The concept is fascinating, but not without its critics. If you’re interested in learning more about the theory, I’d strongly recommend that you read the whole article and judge for yourself.

So, what has this got to do with a blog by Expert you ask? Well, there’s not a huge connection, given that Expert is a tech company operating largely in a virtual environment, though we do have physical offices in downtown Wellington. However, if you look hard enough, you will find there is a thread.

The Broken Windows Theory basically said if you appear to not care about your surroundings or environment then you’re giving a message to the world that there won’t be any repercussions if someone comes along and breaks into your house or car, or steals from you. In other words, you mustn’t care very much about what happens to you as you’re not monitoring the bad stuff and taking care of the good.

Well, the same can be said of your website.

If your site isn’t secure, chances are that your data and operating systems aren’t secure either. Your passwords are probably weak too (a bit like leaving your front door unlocked or hiding the key under your door mat for anyone to find). If your website is built on a WordPress platform are the security patches all up to date?

The good news is that Expert websites built on our proprietary MoST platform have security patches added automatically by our techies, so that’s one less thing to worry about.

Does your website have a secure certificate? If you’re not sure, check next to the URL of your website for a locked padlock. If it’s unlocked it means your site is not secure. Our MoST software utilises an SSL certificate with a three-month expiry date. This significantly reduces the chances of a certificate’s key and password from being extracted from it over time.

If the overall appearance of your website looks unloved, out of date, tired or a bit neglected, the message given is that maybe you don’t care what happens to it (and possibly to the business it represents). Is this the message you really want to be sharing with the world? If the navigation is slow, clunky, unintuitive, with broken links or missing pages, how long will a visitor bother to stay? Its common knowledge that the ‘stickier’ a website is, that is, the longer a visitor stays on it, the more likely they are to do business with you. You’d be surprised how many people still ‘judge books by their covers’ so it’s vital that your website looks the best it can and is kept in pristine condition.

If you need help to fix your ‘broken windows’ and restore your website to its former glory, we’re very happy to help you.

A future blog will explore the connection between ram raids and websites. Just kidding, though it’s certainly no laughing matter.



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