February 26, 2009

In Soviet Russia, Website Uses You!

I could go on for days about how government websites are hopelessly mired in a funk of ancient design practices and proprietary databases - or I could just point you here, where the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has kindly made my point for me. Among the snafus:
  • Three separate stylesheets. Three: one for IE, one for Navigator 5 and up, and one for the rest - plus the browser detection code is crude.
  • Those image links are killing me. They're ugly, they're unnecessary, the rollovers don't even line up properly. Worse, they're backed up by some horrendous-looking JavaScript that could be rewritten in about five lines even without pulling in anything like jQuery.
  • Searching the site for CSS turns up...no results. How do you write about website usability without once mentioning CSS!? Simple: throw in a bunch of process jargon. And you wonder why these government websites never finish their usability reviews...
  • That aside, finding anything on this site is a bit of a chore. Either I go with Search and receive what I'll refer to as "context-free results", or I poke through their gangly tab-list-hyperlink structure. Wait, never mind - this makes everything so much clearer, right?


  1. :)

    If you want to see a truly unfortunate website, you should consider examining IU's CS website. cs.indiana.edu. It's ouch. I was actually in a focus group recently where we attempted to decide why our website still looks like it was written in 1998. I especially like how you have to click "load image" for individual pictures on the faculty page.

  2. But...but it's W3C HTML 4.01 Transitional-compliant! :p