What have Swale Borough Council done to their website?

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21 Dec 2009
You have to hand it to Swale Borough Council if you’re going to make a complete hash of revitalising your website, you might as well do it on a grand scale.

Now before I get carried away I do need to come clean and let you know that I am a web developer by profession, so I find it difficult to view this in an entirely detached fashion. However I’ve heard several other people’s take on the new website, none of which was complimentary.

I’ve heard some moans about Internet Explorer 6 compatibility issues, which I’m reliably informed that Swale Borough Council have not opted to support fully. Whilst I know better than most what a pain IE6 is, given that most corporate organisations and central government are all still using it, this is a surprising move. It doesn’t take that much effort to achieve a near perfect layout if you know what you’re doing.

However by far the most common compliant lies with the sites usability and distinct lack of navigation. The old site may have had it flaws and whilst it never looked that appealing at least it did its job.

You know it’s going to be fun as soon as you hit the homepage and find a glorified search box in preference to the core navigation aids that one would normally expect. When you dig a little deeper there are quite a few holes where links are broken and important documentation has disappeared entirely probably never to be seen again.

Presumably this did somehow pass a round or two of internal user testing before the site was launched. Presumably some bright spark thought that ditching IE6 users was of no consequence for a local authority website. Presumably someone thought that having a pretty picture filling up most of the homepage was preferable to guiding users through the site. Presumably it’s quite convenient for a whole bunch of documentation to disappear, although probably quite expensive in the longer term when people start to request paper copies instead.

Never mind our expectations were never that high to start with.