The Beta Label As Poor Excuse

Steve sent me a link to the all-new official site for the Prime Minister of the UK, which, incredibly, is in beta. Get that: The official online presence for the leader of (allegedly) the fifth richest country in the world is a crummy beta site with dodgy kerning, inconsistent use of typefaces, colours, rounded corners, spacing, and, well everything apart from general crumminess. Look at the masthead. It’s in Clarendon, Times New Roman Bold and Georgia. The typographic soup continues with the addition of Arial for body text (and oddly, some headlines too), and on a graphic, Copperplate. There are boxes with rounded corners at the top but not the bottom, containing images that also have rounded corners but where the curvature doesn’t match the container (and appears to be damaged by JPEG artifacting on most images). The site is a mess.

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The masthead at the time of writing.

The idea of adding features to the site such as YouTube, Twitter and Flickr feeds is a good one, and yes, these things can be a bit messy to integrate at first, but it’s not hard to get those things up and running in any design. The hard bits, especially for a site as prominent as this, is to ensure security, that the background infrastructure can handle the traffic and (importantly) all your content is written and entered into the site. Is this a site that got designed and implemented by several groups who never communicated? It looks like there may have been a design done at pitch stage, but largely ignored throughout development. A good, consistent design is vital for any site, and sticking to it is a must throughout all stages of development.

Still. All these things can be fixed. The design can be clarified, the layout can be rationalised, attention can be paid to consistency and quality, the HTML and CSS can be cleaned up, but it beggars the question, why did they launch an unfinished site and call it a beta? This is not what betas are about. This is arguably one of the most important sites representing the UK and should be implemented to the highest of standards, and yet they launched a crap blog and tried to cover their arses by calling it a beta. Very poor show indeed.