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Wednesday 17 April 2013

Mail Website Hypocrisy

The rationale of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre and his obedient hackery is that anything in the public sector is by definition bad, and to be ridiculed. Any thought of treating such bodies on their merits cannot by definition enter, as they cannot have any. So a public sector resource winning an award must be attacked, however flimsy the pretext. The latest example is the gov.uk website.

This site has one objective: to allow access to information about the Government and the services it provides. A deliberate decision was made at the outset to provide clarity of presentation and plain English signposting and information. This it does. The design has led to gov.uk being awarded the Design Museum’s Design Of The Year award. A Mail hatchet job could not be far away.

And the award goes to boring.com! Government website beats off 100 others to be named world's best design” whines the headline, with the sub-heading explaining “Basic-looking site features links to pages like ‘Housing and local services’”. Yeah, all that public money thrown at it and not one surreptitiously snapped shot of Kim Kardashian falling out of a car. What’s the world coming to, eh?

It has only two small pictures – of the Cabinet Office and of a couple outside a house to promote an energy scheme”. Terrible, eh? No Helen Flanagan, no Beyonce, no Frankie Essex, no Gwyneth Paltrow, no Jennifer Aniston. Never mind, tell us about, oh I dunno, typefaces. “The font used on the site is Gill Sans”. I wouldn’t be so sure about that, folks.

For starters, you just quoted museum director Deyan Sudjic telling “Gov.uk looks elegant and subtly British thanks to a revised version of a classic typeface, designed by Margaret Calvert back in the 1960s”. Gill Sans was designed by Eric Gill and first appeared in 1926, becoming nationally known when it was adopted by the London and North Eastern Railway in 1929. Gill died in 1940.

What won gov.uk the award has clearly been lost on the Mail, and it is not hard to see why: Mail Online is appallingly designed, there is no discernible ordering of the articles, it is by definition riddled with falsehood and misinformation, the content is switched around with confusing regularity, and the only redeeming feature is that the search facility is better than for many competitors.

Where gov.uk directs readers logically towards well-structured and clearly presented information, Mail Online doesn’t give a stuff about how punters navigate the site as long as they visit, and visit often, many drawn in by the click-bait of the notorious “sidebar of shame”, a feature they nicked from the original US Huffington Post site. Mail Online is reminiscent of Number 6’s riposte in The Prisoner.

Information? You won’t get it!” No, not even by hook or by crook, it seems.


paulocanning said...

The acknowledgment for gov.uk is a serious defeat for outsourcing. The idea that by default private enterprise will be better and more efficient -- I explain here.

Anonymous said...

P'd myself that a newspaper decided to talk fonts and got it wrong. Bring back typesetters, they would know their Gill Sans from their New Transport (the .gov font).