supply2.gov.uk - DTI fail again

Launched yesterday by Jim Fitzpatrick, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Department of Trade & Industry, supply2.gov.uk (external link) is described in its launch statement (external link) thusly:

There are now more than 7500 Government contracts advertised on a new business portal which removes the barriers faced by many small businesses to access public sector contracts.

Sadly it doesn't remove any barriers if you browse without javascript enabled, or using a device which doesn't support javascript. And they aren't shy about telling you that you need javascript:

supply2.gov.uk alerts a user to the need for js with a big, obtrusive warning message

Unfortunately the link to the instruction page is broken.

The site's accessibility statement (external link) includes the most confused definition of WCAG conformance I've ever seen:

Additionally the site meets with Bobby (opens in a new window) approved Conformance Level AA in association with the Web Content Guidelines (opens in a new window).

And of course it fails to meet the claimed level of conformance, for various reasons including requiring scripting to be available, for using deprecated markup in a few places, non-contiguous headings, lack of labels for form elements, misuse of the apostrophe, and best of all for introducing a brand new HTML element to the world, <h7> (it's right there on the home page).

This is actually a real shame, because the site is quite nicely built in general, but falls down on the detail. There's also evidence of a rush job in the markup, where the (js dependent) search form is commented out, and a beta statement still resides. I'll email them with these observations, and hopefully in due course it will be made more accessible and we can celebrate a decent DTI website for a change.

Comments

You really do have to wonder about how these vendors are getting the job...

Posted by: Robin at June 28, 2006 6:18 PM

...not to mention that two of the menu items ('supplying government' and 'SBRI') are links to different sites that open in new windows -- no warning, either... I wasn't expecting it. Oddly one just uses target=_blank the other uses a javascript call.

I also noticed the form elements on the roadshows page at least have labels, but for the set of checkboxes the IDs don't match the actual checkbox ID (e.g. Checkbox ID 'northwest', label ID 'newcastle'). Also, that page is clearly not XHTML, as half the input tags are not closed.

I think what is perhaps most annoying is that they have claimed valid code and accessibility and have badged their site, when it doesn't conform. It's almost like someone who almost knew what they were doing wrote the site, and then someone who didn't came along and finished it off.

Posted by: Dave at June 28, 2006 6:49 PM

I work for a local authority and the amount of times huge contracts like this website design are awarded to companies who talk the talk but can't walk the walk is unbelievable!
Mainly down to the people in charge of the money not having the technical knowledge to know whether they're being ripped off or not.

Posted by: Mark at June 28, 2006 7:42 PM

This one is definitely salvageable. The contrast and font sizing needs looking at though and why "W3C" instead of "Accessibility" as a link title?

Posted by: Karl at June 29, 2006 1:10 PM

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