Dealing with Crappy Government Web Sites

Computing report that a survey has found that 61% of Government web-sites do not comply with internationally agreed HTML standards.The Government should really be leading the way in promoting open standards and an ability to access web-sites from any medium. Making web-sites accessible to the disabled, users of any operating system, and those on narrow-band should not be afterthought – it should be the standard. Simply slapping an “We recommend you use Internet Explorer 5+” is not the answer, it’s a cop-out.

Horrible Web-Sites

We’ve all visited web-sites that use ridiculous amounts of Flash “effects” that hampers us from grabbing the information we want from the site and moving on. How frustrating is that?

What’s more frustrating for me personally is to visit the HM Revenue’s and Customs web-site to file my businesses quarterly VAT return as the Government encourage you to do, but then to be told I’m using the “wrong” Java Virtual Machine. Did I have an old version installed that was causing issues? No – I was bang upto date with the latest Sun release. The nice man at the Technical helpdesk tells me that I need to use the Java VM bundled with Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5. I kid you not. So that VAT return goes in the post as it always has!

Accessibility on all platforms

I’m not suggesting that the web revert back to the original days of HTML, just pages and pages of links – but I want to see sites that are accessible from anywhere you can get a ‘net connection. That means a site should be viewable on my PDA over Wireless, my Mobile Phone over GPRS, and even my Atari 800XL using a “Text Only” page if needs be! Sites should be built to scale down to the viewers capabilities. Flash effects are wonderful, but only if you’ve got a 2mb Broadband Connection and Internet Explorer v6 to hand!


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