Bruce Lawson's personal site

Stupid government websites

Dan Champion has an excellent post with information accessed under the Freedom of Information Act about the brand-new oh-so-1997 website of the Department of Trade and Industry, built by Fresh 01 and Fujitsu for a cost of £200,000, yet fails to meet a reasonable level of accessibility, even though it is clearly required in the specification (specification – PDF, 120K, specification – .doc, 89K).

The DTI says that it is

in a unique position to contribute to the wider challenge of globalisation – enabling business and employees to prosper in the UK.

I humbly suggest that they should set a good example to British Industry by upholding the Disability Discrimination Act, and set a good example by commissioning a website from some of the excellent UK-based designers who use Web Standards, rather than the risible old inaccessible crud that they’re currently running.

I also received some information from the DTI to questions I asked about the site. I asked which assistive technologies were used to test the accessibility of the site. The answer, from Catriona Hunter of the Internal and Electronic Communications Team:

No assistive technologies were tested against the site.

Catriona responded to my question “Who will meet the costs of repairing the broken accessibility” with the answer:

If further changes are to be made to the website the cost will be met by DTI.

No they won’t, Catriona; the DTI doesn’t have any money. The money you have flushed down the toilet on this website is the taxpayers’. You are using money taken from my salary to build a website that discriminates against people with disabilities.

Anyhow, Dan and I are working together to get a follow-up set of questions for Catriona – if there’s anything you think we should ask, please leave a comment.

Fresh 01’s right of reply

Meanwhile, it would be interesting to get Fresh 01‘s take on this matter. Did they tell the DTI that the design was AA compliant? Did the DTI and Fujitsu break a genuinely-compliant design by wrestling it into the Content Management System? Has Fresh 01 ever made an accessible site before (their homepage hardly instills confidence)?

The comment form awaits; they are cordially invited to respond.

Follow-up post.

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16 Responses to “ Stupid government websites ”

Comment by Peter Wardley-Repen

You could ask them for a breakdown of how much their CMS cost; we managed to save tens of thousands by going open source with the enterprise-quality Typo3. Works well, getting better all the time, and zero cost for licensing. Just download it and go.

Comment by Mike

Hello. Some questions you guys may want to ask DTI about:
1.Do you have your own in-house IT staff?
2.If yes to #1, did any of your staff have any knowledge of web standards and accessibility?
3.If no to #2, did you ever consider the possibility of sending your own staff for appropriate web standards and accessibility training to save taxpayers’ money?
4.Have you ever considered hiring someone full-time with web standards and accessibility background to help DTI’s in-house IT staff to work together as a team?

Comment by valley

I have reached this page by accident. But as a tax paying citizen, was intrigued by the claims by experts of a major government department wasting tax payers money. Not being an expert
myself I can’t figure out the defects on an otherwise nicelooking and fast loading site. It will be helpful to give a couple of examples for the benefit of the lay public.

Comment by Bangkok Digital Photos

Yep, agree with Peter, Typo3 is the way to go. It’s open source and it’s free. It does have a bit of a learning curve though, otherwise, it’s a great CMS for a large website.

Comment by Success

Another example of the government wasting our money. I know many good UK designers who could have produced a fine site with all assistive technologies for a fraction of this budget. When will this stop?


Comment by car id

The site is really awful, the colour scheme makes my eyes popout. Seems that the designers were drunk or just did not care about what they were doing.

There are lots of freelancers who would have done terrific design at a low cost!!

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