April 2007 Archive

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April 26, 2007

DTI update - good money after bad?

@ 12:57 PM

Loyal readers will remember that in May last year I started to post about the DTI's new yet inaccessible website, developed at a cost of £200,000 of taxpayers' money. If this is news to you please start with the summary I posted in August when the story ran in Private Eye, and at my co-conspirator Bruce Lawson's website, where he has a special category just for the DTI.

In February the DTI posted an accessibility update to their website, detailing a three-step improvement plan, to be completed in early summer 2007.

Being a curious bloke (so I've been told) I was keen to learn more about this plan, and in particular how much more of our money it was going to take to clean up the mess produced by the previous contractors. So I sent the DTI this FOI enquiry on 22nd March:

Hello.

I'd be grateful if you could provide details of the work described on this page related to the accessibility of the DTI website:

http://www.dti.gov.uk/administration/help/Accessibility/page8487.html

Specifically:

  1. The cost of emplying Nomensa to audit the website.
  2. The cost of step one of the remedial work to be undertaken, described as "Make the necessary accessibility improvements to the core DTI website. This will consist of both technical and content work streams. They will address the underlying design, code and content issues that have been identified as requiring attention to meet the appropriate standards."
  3. The name of the contracted company undertaking the work in step one.
  4. The budgeted cost of completing the entire process described on the page referred to above.

Please contact me if you require any clarification of this request.

Kind regards,

Dan Champion

The DTI responded on 23rd April:

FOI REQUEST 07/0139 - DTI WEBSITE

I am writing in response to your email of 22 March 2007 in which you requested information relating to the DTI website.

  1. The total budget for the website accessibility audit was £10,000. This cost covered:
    • An accessibility audit of the DTI website templates;
    • Guidance on creating and maintaining accessible pdf documents;
    • Presentation of the results at DTI;
    • Copies of the reports;
    • A workshop on issues raised by the audit
    • Central Office of Information procurement and project management costs.
  2. On the website Step One is described as "consist[ing] of both technical and content work streams". The technical workstream has two elements:
    • Building the website templates. Cost: £59,837
    • Upgrading the Content Management System software. This work, unrelated to the accessibility issue, was due and it was prudent to combine it with the template work. Cost: £45,666
    The content workstream is being developed; cost is not yet confirmed.
  3. The company contracted to undertake the technical workstream in Step One is Fujitsu.
  4. The budgeted costs for the technical workstream is £59,837, with a further £45,666 for the CMS software upgrade. The content workstream for Step One is being developed; cost is not yet confirmed. Steps Two and Three of the accessibility project will follow the content workstream.

To summarise:

I have two perspectives on this. On the one hand, this is positive action, and with Nomensa's help the DTI will most likely emerge with an accessible, usable website. Hoorah. On the other hand, it is a marvellous example of how not to procure, develop and deliver an accessible website. The cost of the remedial work looks likely to approach if not exceed the cost of the original development. A perfect illustration of why you build accessibility in from the very start. No doubt more to come about the DTI in the near future.

April 7, 2007

Nintendon't

@ 4:23 PM

As I sold my Wii a couple of weeks ago (it was fun while it lasted, but was gathering too much dust to justify its existence) today I unsubscribed from the Nintendo email newsletter. Or at least that's what I tried to do. But I'll need to wait:

Your Nintendo e-mail subscription status has been updated.

Please be advised that it may take up to 10 business days to unsubscribe you.

WTF?! I can subscribe in an instant, but unsubscription takes up to 10 days? The unsubscription method was a heavily obfuscated URL, so where's the issue? Are Nintendo manually processing unsubscriptions? Meh.

Comment on Nintendon't (4)

April 6, 2007

Highland Fling Flung

@ 11:21 AM

Yesterday I attended the eagerly anticipated Highland Fling (external link), the first Scottish web standards conference evar. Alan White (external link) did a great job of attracting top speakers, and they didn't disappoint on the day. Even Mark Norman Francis (external link) struggled manfully on despite obvious discomfort from what sounded like a savage throat infection - what a pro. I'm sure his description of Flickr as "criminally inadequate" can be blamed on medication.

All of the sessions featured high quality content expertly delivered, but my personal pick was brothercake's (external link) session, "What has Ajax done for us anyway", telling it like it is where Ajax is concerned. Jeremy Keith (external link) gets the intellectual award, for his historical allegory, and the explanation of memetics, the origin of the (apparently misnamed) concept of web "memes". And he mentioned Revish, which was nice.

The audience seemed to take a little while to warm-up - if it had been a comedy gig at least one of the acts would have uttered the words "tough crowd tonight" under their breath. That said I heard nothing but positive comments from the other delegates, which bodes well for the future of the web standards community (or industry) in Scotland, and the prospects for Highland Fling II next year. A fine evening of drink and food followed, although I have to confess to missing the last pints of the night (morning?) as I retired to my hotel to prepare for this afternoon's Refresh Edinburgh (external link).

Some slides: