Editorial: an e-Embarrassment eloquently explained

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Photo: Urmas Nemvalts

So they ordered us a new website, up there at the Riigikogu, for €98,000 allegedly paying for all works pre and post.  The thing feels out of reach and hard to read, but host says this is a nonissue.

Who knows... perhaps the day will dawn when for the money paid wonders will be displayed. But whatever we currently see is an embarrassment. Secretary General of the Riigikogu says all is according to procurement conditions and requirements. Perhaps so, but the site is ugly to behold and hard to use. Worse yet: this is to represent the top of e-Estonia – its parliament.

Internet sites are for people to find what they need, quickly and comfortably. Also, a site might look nice. Even so, user friendliness is Alpha and Omega, the entire design geared towards this. In such issues, a parliamentary website should not pose an exception, should it? Judging by what Postimees has been told thus far, to be liked by users comes way down the priority list. What counts most is procedures etc. So here we have goal and means mixed up.

Even with rocket scientists, their work is easily assessed by people totally uneducated: the rocket flies as promised... or not. But now they are trying to tell us that the parliament’s website design and usability cannot be evaluated by users (for whom it was created) or by professional web designers.

Why such talk? For an official, the initial instinct is to claim all is according to rules (of procurement). This we can humanly understand. Behind the knee-jerk reaction there probably lies the fear of accusations of deception, corruption and whatnot. Even so, why not apply everyday wisdom: in real life, we buy stuff to use it. Not so in public affairs?

The new site is not viewable in smartphone. Worse than that, even on the computer screens of various sizes it is extremely uncomfortable to view. In today’s terms, unfit for use. Pity the poor journalists – daily, we will be zooming and scrolling the new creation for dear information.