Silicon Glen, Scotland > Web usability > Pants websites

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Why the Scottish Parliament website is pants

Site reviewed on 12th January 2004

Evidently the consultants who milked £420+ million pounds from taxpayers to fund the parliamentary palace at the bottom of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh have missed out on a chance here to give the website the same money-no-object look and feel.

After all, for those who can't attend the building in person, the website is the next best thing. Indeed, the website will probably get a lot more visitors. So maybe you'd expect that after spending nearly half a billion pounds on a such an important new building, they might spend a bit on ensuring the website is accessible for those of us who can't make it to money temple in person?

Take a look at this mess. Pointed out to the Parliament on 12th Jan and 3 weeks later the simple fault is still there. Maybe everyone's off counting their profits?

illegible mess

The styles can't be read. However, some styles are hardcoded in the document rather than in the stylesheet so the default colours have been changed just enough to make the black on navy and the blue on navy almost completely illegible.

One hopes that the same standards of quality and testing haven't been applied to the building, otherwise the money pit will be reactivated to pay for an inquiry. Can I suggest rather than paying a judge a vast sum of money to conduct an enquiry that the following simple advice is followed for both the building and the website?

  1. Employ someone who knows what they are doing.
  2. Test it properly.
  3. Put the spare change from £500 million into my bank account, thanking me for the money and embarrassment I just saved you.
  4. Award the statutory gong for "Services to the Scottish Parliament (saving the ministers' careers)"

Besides the technical embarrassment of having an illegible website, there is the legal embarrassment of failing to meet Disability Access Legislation. Have a scan through these errors, noting the highlighted one in particular.

disability access anyone?

Finally, there is also some confusion and basic knowledge missing on Scottish culture.

The following line was noted in the source code:

<meta name="DC.Title" lang="gd" content="Welcome to The Scottish Parliament" />

The lang="gd" means "The following text is in Scottish Gaelic". Now, have you spotted the error? Yes, "Welcome to the Scottish Parliament" is in fact written in English. Didn't take an expensive consultant to work that one out, just someone who knows what they are doing. Now if it had actually said:

<meta name="Description" lang="gd" 
content="Fàilte chun na larach-lìon aig Pàrlamaid na h-Albainn" />

Then it would have had the correct language label for the content, and used a meta tag which is relevant for search engines as well.

Sin agad e they say in Scottish Gaelic

The pants website award. Please feel free to add to this list