Gone But Not Forgotten

Hello, you've landed on DATA eh? - Open Data Toronto's original blog space for data discussions. This is not an active blog at the moment but legacy posts are still here. Have a read ... you can still provide comments.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Everything old is new again ... not quite!

NOTE: This is content from the web re:Brand posts going back to November 2010. We have kept the re:Brand posts as a legacy archive but, on a go forward basis as of October, 2011, the new DATA eh? content takes over this space.

We found an interesting website today: http://web.archive.org known as wayback machine.  You can go backwards in time there and we did.  Here is a rendering of our toronto.ca site from 1999:

And another:

We changed from this in mid-2000 to:

We're still a kid ...

Actually we found another site that gives our "age" as 8 years, 10 months and 3 days (as of viewing/writing today, July 28, 2010).  Looks like they started to calculate from when we became "toronto.ca" instead of "city.toronto.on.ca" - the actual City of Toronto web site has been around since amalgamation in 1998.

That still makes us a kid in people terms!  Trouble is that's really old in web terms. But we're people using technology making web. It's not technology itself  making web. So I think that's a distinction worth mentioning.

Here's what we looked like just before our first birthday (this being a former City of Toronto web page as the transition to one large City government was happening):


The team here is keen to see our web improve for the user. If you've been here reading before I hope you know that by now.  But, if you are new to this blog, and not sure what the toronto.ca web re:Brand is all about, we're asking for comment on what we can do better.

Many people go right to the look and feel of the pages in their thoughts.  That's important but we want to go deeper down to discover how you surf the pages. To accommodate improvements we are introducing a web content management tool which will clear up virtually all of the coding problems and accessibility barriers on the site.  But we want to go beyond that too.

I've asked before for comments on how we can make your user experience better.  We're turning the corner on how we plan to introduce content management and the design.  It's still going to be some time before we have everything in place.  As we go along, we're going to keep checking in to ask if we're moving in the right direction. So, once again, I invite thoughts and issues on toronto.ca user experiences. Tell us how you tried to find something, where you expected it to be, what search terms you used, etc. Tell your friends to tell us too. It all helps.

I'm off for some R&R for a bit so won't be posting for a few weeks. Meantime, please surf the rest of this blog - in particular the Lucky 7 sections and the straight to the point "tell us what's right or wrong with toronto.ca".

I'll leave you with a capture of our current front page (the current view with design from when we kicked off the re:Brand in 2009):

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Chris F.A. Johnson said...

There are accessibility problems with the home page (http://www.toronto.ca/); information is cut off. See the screenshot at http://cfajohnson.com/testing/toronto.jpg

The animation is annoying (and why should I have to wait to get the information I want?). Animations are always either too fast to read or slow enough to be frustrating.

There are 3 HTML errors on the home page. See http://validator.w3.org/check?verbose=1&uri=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.toronto.ca%2F

Re the site in general:

There are far too many PDFs. On a web site, you should put web pages.

Information is badly presented. It takes far more clicks than should be necessary to find any information.

Forcing the opening of new pages (or even new tabs) is even more annoying than animation.

Keith from the TO web re:Brand team said...

Thanks @Chris - I've forwarded your notes to our designers to fix the syntax errors and CSS. Appreciate all your comments. If you check out the Lucky 7 posts (individually linked under DISCUSS section at the top of page), you'll see where we are headed in changes for the better. Clearly we can do better.