[LINK] A Real Rant: Government Online
Tue, 20 Mar 2001 12:14:17 +1000
One of the reasons I fret about governments' trying to drive their service
delivery to the Web is because the execution is so bad.
Because I've never actually been a solo operator, I've never had to go
through to process of registering a business name. However, a friend of mine
setting up as a freelancer phoned and asked how to do it. So I hit the NSW
Website. And looked through for the Department of Fair Trading. And threaded
my way through directories and sites and "help for Business", and
Pollyanna-ish smiley faces. And Flash, and directories that tell you
nothing, and links that assume that the only person who wants to know the
price of a business name wants to register it now.
In short, the execution of the NSW "assistance for small business" Web
information is completely dreadful. Presumably created originally to tell
people what regulations they have to comply with, it's become a
content-driven portal - and the content masters should be shot. The sites
I'm referring to - starting out at www.nsw.gov.au and running through to
http://www.search.nsw.gov.au/business.asp and www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au -
are a masterpiece at interfaces designed to satisfy the designers and ignore
the user. I ended up phoning the department - which means the Website failed
twice. It consumed dollars without delivering information - and then
consumed dollars by sending me to the call centre.
Oh, and some of the Fair Trading links on NSW kicked me off because you
can't ask a question without using cookies.
And arround the country, I find nothing encouraging. WA was slightly better,
at least it had an FAQ which included the price of business name
registration. www.business.gov.au is just shocking, and some of it fails
completely under Netscape.
Because the Queensland site www.queensland.gov.au didn't offer any obvious
place to look, I tried a search button which didn't work. And Victoria - oh
yeah, I remember, the shining light of online government to the rest of the
country - well, it's site doesn't crash, but ease of use is sacrificed for
This is government money. And frankly, it's the kind of spending the IT
industry and the Internet boosters have begged for, lobbied for, and
uncritically applauded. What we are seeing is the digital equivalent of the
$20,000 hammer: various.gov.au seen as a free ride because once government
is a captive customer, you can charge what you like. Utterly disgraceful.