Saturday, July 10, 2010

Prototype website

I have developed this prototype website for a government agency or business organisation. It allows the public to access the information and forms of the organisation. This prototype website allows the information to be stored in separate PDF documents that can be retrieved easily and saved on the user's computer or printed. This will be easier to use than the spiderweb that is now used by most large organisations.

Please give your views about this prototype and suggestions for improvements. If you like this style, please help to encourage more organisations to move to this style.

Tan Kin Lian


hongjun said...

What's the problem with existing government website? Sitemap should tell us all the structure of the website.

hongjun said...

BTW, all government websites follow a certain layout standard e.g. there is a Singapore Government logo at top right hand corner (with search, contact us, feedback)

Tan Kin Lian said...

Hi Loh Hon Chun
Read my comments on the SingTel website and the Ministry of Manpower website. It is difficult to access information from these websites. You can try to search for information like "how to call a mobile phone in Malaysia" or "how do I apply for an employment pass for a foreigner".

hongjun said...

I tried to find the answer to your MOM question and I almost got it under 30 seconds (if I got it correctly).

It is under FAQ section.

hongjun said...

I do agree Singtel website sucks though :p

Anonymous said...

A few things you might want to consider:
1.) Breadcrumbs to make it easier to navigate through the site.
2.) Search functionality.
3.) An FAQ instead of a guide.
4.) Centralise the CSS - looking at the source code, you have a seperate CSS, but you also have inline style elements, and style elements in the head.
5.) Use the CSS for table layout, instead of TD and TR elements.
6.) Replicate key section links in the footer, including sitemap, as recommended by Loh Hon Chun.

Tan Kin Lian said...

Reply to 9:53 am

The prototype website is designed to be simple, so there is no need to have breadcrumbs. Maybe a sitemap is useful but it will be quite simple. I used the Guide because each title is a FAQ.

Anonymous said...

Just to ask a question. How to create a list of Frequently Asked Qustions (FAQ) for a new website when nobody has asked questions before. Since the website is new and has never been on the internet, it is not in existence before it is launched and therefore nobody has questions to ask

Anonymous said...

O the Guide page, it says: "This website has been developed and checked for use by Internet Explorer 8. Most other browsers will work as well, but if you encounter difficulty with some of the features, please move to Internet Explorer 8."

I would strongly suggest NOT to recommend users to use Internet Explorer. This is one big problem with most websites in Singapore (public or private). They think there is only Internet Explorer and Microsoft Windows in this world.

Actually, some people prefer not to use Microsoft Windows, due to security weakness. Unfortunately, it's easy to say these people are minority and their security concerns are not important.

If you code the website using standard HTML, then it should work on most browsers. Furthermore, it shouldn't be that much difficult to check the website on a few additional browsers: Firefox, Chromium and Safari.

Tan Kin Lian said...

Reply to 1:54 pm
You can use your favourite browser. It should be okay. But, if you encounter problem, try Internet Explorer or Firefox.

hongjun said...

Websites should at the minimum support IE 7 and latest Firefox, Chrome and Safari.

However, the statement on Windows being weak is unfounded. It is seemingly weak because it is the most popular OS at the moment. It is totally logical to attack Windows for its huge user base.

Are Mac OS X or Linux more secure than Windows? Read on here.

Anonymous said...

rex comments as follows,

I have tried everything IE, Firefox, Safari, Chrome and also the older Netscape.
My verdict, IE is still the best. It loads at least three times faster than Firefox. Firefox is terrible, loads very slowly. The interface of Safari and Chrome is not very intuitive although the graphics are nicer with a Mac touch. I had uninstalled all the other browsers and kept IE in my pc only.

Of course if the html is properly written, there is no reason for any outdated advice to "works best in IE only". There are some html code get-arounds, to allow cross compatibility and backward comaptibilities. Any html writer worth his salt knows how to copy these pieces of get-around codes.

Whilst other microsoft products like Word and Access are terrible products, i would still give the thumbs up for IE, it seems to be the only thing MS knows how to do (oh. Excel is also good).


Anonymous said...

Do you really expect the government agency or large company to abandon its current website, where they spend many millions of dollars and thousand of hours of development and training staff, and go for your generic website? Are you sure that your website is website prototye is robust and free of bugs? Can the organisation take the risk?

chnrxn said...

Also consider these very important factors:

1. Exploding number of mobile browsers, esp iPhone and Android mobile browsers. A good site should provide a mobile-optimized version.

Personally my mobile surfing now constitutes 30% of my total Internet surfing since I got my Android phone.

2. Increasing number of MAC (Apple) users. Internet Explorer is no longer available for MACs.

3. Avoid use of Flash! Really! Steve Jobs may sound draconian to ban Flash on iPhones, but he has a good point. I will "allow" using Flash for playing videos though. Implementing website navigation and content in Flash slows down loading time, is unfriendly to search engines, and makes it hard to link to specific content.

4. I personally do not agree with presenting information exclusively as PDFs. There is simply no point in a website providing a PDF form that still requires printing, manual filling and postage. Content can be formatted in HTML as nicely as PDFs already (well, almost).

It is also important to be standards-compliant. A lot of Singapore websites are "deliberately" broken in order to cater exclusively to MSIE. Proper browser detection should be employed when writing any website. Many toolkits like jQuery, MooTools, YahooUI, Google Web Toolkit already handle these differences transparently. The websites I have created with jQuery work perfectly (so far) with ALL browsers from MSIE to Chrome to Firefox to Safari to Opera.

Tan Kin Lian said...

Reply to 1:18 pm

Most organisations know what are the frequently asked questions. They are collected from their daily transactions, and is not restricted to only the questions asked in the website.

The advantage of FAQ is that it is presented in a manner that is easy for the public to understand. It improves communication.

Tan Kin Lian said...

Reply to 4.39 pm

Certain information are convenient to be accessed through the mobile phone. But other information, such as application for work pass, should be done through a PDF document.

It is all right to download a PDF document with a form for the staff to collect the inforamtion on hard copy (before entering into the website). Most forms require information to be collected as a separate process. It is not possible to enter all the information directly, without the pre-collection process.

I have giving this information based on my recent experience in submitting an application in the MOM website.

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