To make things right, make them for everyone

One sign that your website isn’t meeting the needs of all your users is when Matthew Somerville gets sufficiently grumpy about it to do a proper version himself.

I first came across Matthew in the early 2000s when he got cross enough to build an accessible version of the Odeon website, allowing people whose needs Odeon had decided were not worth meeting to book films at their cinemas. You’d think Odeon would thank him, but no, they sent him nasty legal cease and desist letters. This wasn’t wise.

Today Matthew released his own version of the UK Government’s official coronavirus data dashboard, which last week received a shiny revamp.

A shiny revamp that only worked after a bloated pile of client side javascript had been dumped in your browser (nearly a Mb of React).

A shiny revamp that didn’t initially publish the raw data, and when it did, broke any automated links to the actual data by rendering them via javascript. I imagine the data journalists doing great coronavirus work at the likes of the FT were thrilled.

It was a classic example of style over substance. And very much out of keeping with the excellent front end work being done in a coronavirus hurry all over the UK government and NHS.

On the basis that it’s better to show rather than tell, here’s a side by side video of the two versions loading and rendering over 3G on a mobile.



Addendum: Matt Hobbs, who is the Head of Front end for the UK Government Digital Service, wrote a fantastic blog post this time last year explaining why GDS focus so much on  performance. Contains useful stats.

One thought on “To make things right, make them for everyone

  1. Adactio: Journal—Lightweight

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