[LINK] Pandemic pandemonium

Tom Worthington Tom.Worthington at tomw.net.au
Sun Jun 7 21:20:10 EST 2009

At 04:26 PM 7/06/2009, David Boxall wrote:
>We all have our ideas about what should happen in emergencies ...

In a major emergency, such as a pandemic, all that the authorities 
can provide to the community is advice. There are not sufficient 
resources to provide each individual with material assistance. It is 
therefore important that useful advice is provided. The web would be 
a useful way to provide such advice, if we could to learn to use it 

The Australian Government has provided some useful information 
online, but the formatting and arrangement of that information could 
be improved. Better use could be made of the web to distribute and 
present information. The PDF versions of information brochures could 
be replaced with easier to read web pages. Simple animations which 
demonstrate techniques such as hand washing could be created. These 
could be displayed on web pages and also be suitable for use on smart 
phones and on digital signage in schools, offices and workplaces.

The Australian Government home page provides a link for  "Swine Flu 
Outbreak"  as the second feature,  after the Economic Stimulus Plan. 
This appears to be an appropriate level of priority. Unfortunately 
the link is to a web page with the vague title of "Heath Emergency" 
and subtitle of "H1N1 09 Outbreaks" 
<http://www.healthemergency.gov.au/>. Many readers are likely to stop 
at this point, think they are in the wrong place. The page should 
have a title link that of the home page Swine Flu Outbreak".

The web address for the page is generic, referring to "Heath 
Emergency", however there appears to be no provision for more than 
one health emergency or distinguishing between them. There is also no 
provision for government information on other forms of emergencies. 
The Australian Government should establish a web address for 
emergencies and include health under that.

The information on the "Heath Emergency" page is not intended for the 
general public and is not suitable for them. The page is intended for 
health professionals, school administrators and business people. This 
is indicated by the menu on the page which lists information for 
individuals and households last in a menu of seven items. It is 
unlikely that many people will even notice this menu item. This 
should be changed to put the information for individuals on to of the 
home page.

The "Individuals and 
Has a menu at the top which lists "Personal protective equipment" as 
he first item. However, this is not the most important way to combat 
flu, which is good personal hygiene, which is the first item below 
the menu. Many people will click on "Personal protective equipment" 
and thus miss the first section "Protecting yourself and others". 
That topic should be added as the first item on the menu.

The web address for the page contains upper and lower case text. It 
actually works with all lower case text, but the mixed case will 
cause confusion and should be replaced. The web address is too long 
and should be made one third the current length.

The page has been formatted to omit the left menu when printed and 
prints well. The bottom of the page contains details of where to get 
further information. However, there is no link to state and territory 
health departments. There should be a link to the corresponding 
health department pages.

The web page failed a TAW automated web accessibility test, TAW 3.0 
(6/8/09 12:51 AM) Validation conform to WAI guidelines, W3C 
Recommendation 5 May: 1999 <http://www.tawdis.net/taw3/online>. There 
was one Priority one problem, 12 priority two and 1 priority three 
problems. There is a ALT text tag missing from one image on the page, 
which should be added. It would also be useful to offer audio and 
video versions of the information and in other languages.

The page scored 79/100 with the W3C mobileOK Checker, which is a good 

The page is 53KB, with 34KB for the images. The text of the page is 
16 kbytes, indicating that there is not an excessive amount of 
formatting used. However, the page might usefully be split into two 
smaller pages.

The image providing advice on hand washing is relevant and useful but 
should be optimized for online use 

The image is a 24 kbyte GIF file. It contains text which makes the 
image file unnecessarily larger and is not accessible by those using 
assistive technology. The image contains 203 colours, which is more 
than needed for a simple line drawing. If reduced to 8 colors, the 
image size decreases to 6 kbytes. Consideration could be given to 
reducing the complexity of the images, making them simple pictograms.

The web page lacks keywords, description and other metadata in the 
HEAD. This should be added and the irrelevant "powered by IBM Lotus 
Workplace Web Content Management(r) 2.0" removed.

The web page failed validation, due to the missing "ALT" on an image: 

The validation also noted that:

"The character encoding specified in the HTTP header (utf-8) is 
different from the value in the <meta> element (iso-8859-1). I will 
use the value from the HTTP header (utf-8) for this validation. "

The missing ALT should be added and the character set mismatch 
corrected. Consideration should be given for using a later version of 
HTML than HTML 4.01 Transitional, for the document.

The web page contains a link to posters and information brochures 
However, most of these are not relevant for individuals and could 
cause confusion and panic, with mention of protective gloves, gowns 
and respirators. The items on this page should be reordered to place 
those relevant to the general public, such as how to wash and dry 
hands, first and the ones for professionals lower down.

ps: To assist the community, I had the Australian National University 
COMP2410 students undertake their web design  assignment on a swine 
flu advice web site for Australia 
experience  is now available, if needed.

Tom Worthington FACS HLM tom.worthington at tomw.net.au Ph: 0419 496150
Director, Tomw Communications Pty Ltd            ABN: 17 088 714 309
PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617                      http://www.tomw.net.au/
Adjunct Senior Lecturer, Australian National University  

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