Here's hoping new Parliament website will be better than existing one

, posted: 25-Aug-2006 11:18

ParliamentOur elected representatives - or rather, the staffers who do the geeky thang for them - have been busy revamping their online presence. The press release says:

Rethink, Redesign and Renaming of Parliament's Website

... and the promise is the new site will be user-friendly, have working search function, and possibly streaming video as well, and so forth.

There's a new domain being used now, instead of the previous This is to emphasise Parliament's independence of the government, as per the UK model. A very good thing that is too.

I didn notice a couple of DNS curiosities with the new domain though. First, only works and not the shorter That's a small issue, but easy to get right. Second, there's no mail MX record for I take it then that our Parliamentarians aren't going to get email addresses. Why not?

The new site is supposed go live on Monday the 28 of August but out of curiosity, I looked at the existing site which is... horrible. It's a mish-mash of typefaces, images, patterns and colours that makes you wonder if the lot was designed by a committee that couldn't agree on anything.

A quick look further revealed plenty of breakage:

* There's a little Java applet, a ticker-tape scrolling thing, at the top of the page, that doesn't work.

* No Document Type Definition (DTD).

* No Character-Encoding.

* Site doesn't validate (46 errors).

* Site uses tables for layout (OK, this is a contentious point, but the consensus is that tables for layout are a bad thing).

* Spelling errors ("Architectual top").

* Confusing copy with dubious grammar:

"You can go directly to functions available through this site by using the keys above, or you can go directly to the Internet sites of the agencies that provide services to Parliament by using the buttons below.

Keys? What keys?

Good grief. How long has this mess been around?

On this page, it says the site was developed by Webmasters, or Magnet Design as they seem to be called. They're part of Provenco Group Ltd by the looks of it.

The new site is developed by Terabyte with Microsoft .NET technology (ASP.NET perhaps?). It will run on IIS using the MS Content Manager as well. Be interesting to see how that works out on the 28th. Kind of surprised that Microsoft's PR hasn't done anything with it, but perhaps they're still recovering from Tech Ed?

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