Last week a website user notified me of a problem he was experiencing with this website’s rating calculators. He’s been a regular user for nearly a year now. When he tried to perform a calculation the calculators would just show waiting indicators without showing the answer. If he closed the browser window and reopened it, it would sometimes fix the problem. To complicate matters, his coworker was having a similar problem.
Worst of all, this problem had been plaguing them for two weeks. If you have a problem with this website, let me know as soon as possible so that I can track down the last change to the site to see if its causing a problem.
My troubleshooting went like this:
- Get a detailed description of the symptoms.
- Try to replicate the problem.
- Reiterate the problem to make sure I’ve got it right.
- While working to diagnose and fix the problem, offer a temporary fix (putting up a temporary site for their use).
- Look into recent changes in the website (going back two weeks).
- Since I couldn’t replicate the problem, ask additional questions.
- Does the problem occur at a particular time of the day?1
- What web browser and version do they use?2
- What operating system? When was the last update?3
- Explain how to figure out their version of Windows and how to install update.
- Do they have any third-party “toolbars” installed? Yahoo, Google, MSN, etc toolbars.4
- Ask them to temporarily disable or uninstall the toolbar. Give them links to where they can re-download the toolbar software.
- Do they single-click or double-click on buttons?5
- Are other co-workers having the same problem?6
- Do they have this same problem on different computers?7
- Ask them to try out a new browser. I recommended the PortableApps.com version of FireFox.
- If the problem disappears, its obviously in their computer or network. If the problem persists, it could still possibly be their network or the website.
- Above all else: KEEP THE CLIENT INFORMED.9
As of right now, one of this client’s co-workers has contacted me to say that he’s no longer having trouble with the website.
So, problem solved? If not, let me know, alrighty?
- This would indicate a data bottleneck at the server. Time to upgrade! [↩]
- And, tell them how to find this information. [↩]
- Have I mentioned how much I loathe Microsoft Vista? Seriously, I think people should delete Microsoft Vista because its crap. [↩]
- These browser helper objects are notorious for interfering with normal browser operations. Worse, you can’t rule them out based upon when they were installed because they’re constantly downloading and installing updates to themselves. [↩]
- Double clicks send two requests to the server – and might be confusing the browser. [↩]
- Two computers on a single network could be a coincidence, a sign of a problem with the website, or a sign of a problem with the client’s network. [↩]
- If not, its a problem with that computer. If so, could still be a problem with either the website or their computers/network. [↩]
- Tell them how to tell if there’s an error and how to give you the error code information. [↩]
- They may not care for the constant updates, but they will know you’re on the case. [↩]