To great fanfare, The Queen, in the company of Sir Tim Berners-Lee, unveiled the new British Monarchy website today. Unfortunately, what they unveiled was a real dog’s dinner.
Royal.gov.uk highlights the worst elements of the practice of web development; on only the second page I visited it became obvious that the site hasn’t been tested on any browser other than Internet Explorer, and a peek at the source code left me shocked.
The testing is the most obvious fault; the comparison shots below (IE7 is first, FF3 second) immediately betray the lack of cross-browser coding. Click each image to show a full-page screenshot.
And the coding… oh my word. The markup is just plain terrible; completely non-semantic, it uses the
div element to wrap everything. Everything. No joke. Page headers, text paragraphs, lists… everything. And I found closing
html elements halfway through the document! See for yourself.
It just shows a fundamental lack of care.
<div style="margin-left:0px;" class="BPL_MenuLevel0" OnMouseOver="PAL_MenuHover(this,true);" OnMouseOut="PAL_MenuHover(this,false);" id="TREE_972F516DD8244C8F8267312C9F26F3C2"> <a href="/TheRoyalHousehold/WorkingfortheRoyalHousehold/Whoarewe.aspx">Working for the Royal Household</a> </div>
The home page fails HTML validation with 10 very basic errors, including
I know that legacy systems can sometimes be restrictive and lead to invalid HTML, but I find it hard to believe that any developer worth their salt would continue to use a CMS which could produce so many egregious contraventions of standards. If inline JS & CSS and massively nested divs are the best a system can manage, better to implement a new one.
The underlying structure of this site is badly dated; we stopped writing code like that ten years ago. It’s a poor flagship site from people who can afford better, and an embarrassment to Sir Tim to be associated with it.