[LINK] A Real Rant: Government Online
Wed, 21 Mar 2001 08:40:26 +1000
"We're crap but so is everybody else" is the depressingly common attitude!
My last observation: two years ago, I tested some IT sites to see how long
it took to find and download driver files which I knew existed. The worst
required 43 clicks to go from home page to the right download button.
Now, in the vendor-driven madness you rightly mention, the Web is offered as
a customer contact medium: the explicit "ROI" (return on investment)
promotional in analyst slides is that it gets calls out of the call centre.
That, of course, is rubbish if the site is badly designed: if an
organisation spends a million dollars on the Website, but still has to field
the phone call, then the money is wasted.
The next bit of vendor driven madness is speech recognition: but that still
doesn't solve the basic problem that a system has to be navigable. All it
means is instead of pressing buttons, someone speaks to a computer - but
still ends up angry and frustrated!
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, 20 March 2001 12:19
To: Chirgwin, Richard
Subject: Re: [LINK] A Real Rant: Government Online
Agree, but consider that .gov is no different from any other part of the
The great majority of websites I have the misfortune of surfing suffer from
vendor driven madness. It is quite clear that control of the web site has
been given to the marketing department and they have, in turn, been done
over by some advertising agency. I have witnessed and fought this first
hand in my various roles as web editor and have railed against it for years
(eg 97 AUSTLII Law over the Internet conference). [obplug: getting
information to people is one of the fundamental design directives of the
www.gtlaw.com.au website and it is, I believe, the strength of that
objective which has ensured the popularity of our site].
Sites which I find do things well are fan sites/community of interest sites
(and some edu sites). Either they're crap (and that they are crap is
obvious) or they excel at getting information to their target audiences.
They don't suggest useful information might be hidden somewhere if you
search hard enough and then cruelly disappoint you.
ma.com.au> cc: (bcc: Brendan
Scott/Gilbert & Tobin/61)
Subject: [LINK] A
Real Rant: Government Online
20/03/01 01:14 PM
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
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
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
the user. I ended up phoning the department - which means the Website
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
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.