Sunday, 22 August 2010

Thanet District Council’s website.

Once again a look at the council’s website, homepage, I hope this isn’t going to become a weekly occurrence.

I have heard in rather a roundabout way that the council’s IT department has been trying to resolve the issues that I have highlighted, so this is for them, and I hope it explains more fully what is going wrong.

First the search box, there is something the matter with this, although just what it is defies ordinary computing and seems to relate to what it does to your browsers cache, I am using Internet Explorer version 8, fully updated. This is what most people are using at the moment, I have tried this on more than one computer.

First off their search box didn’t work at all, returning no results for the word “Thanet”.

Next I tried clearing the browsers cache, after which it worked like it usually does, when it works at all, by this I mean that it returns about 20% of the results that Google returns for the same domain http://www.thanet.gov.uk/

I next tried using the advanced facilities on the councils webpage that comes up when the search box works at all, to be precise I tried searching by “date most recent first” I got one result for this and then tried a different search word “Pleasurama” this took me to an error page url, I have copied this onto a webpage as it is so long click on the link for it http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/laptop810b/id13.htm this link takes you to the copy of the error page just in case it has vanished http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/laptop810b/id12.htm

Next the strip of links called “Events” this is another really bizarre feature of their homepage as it doesn’t seem to list any of the main events happening this week.

I have looked into the coding of this part of their website and this bit seems to work automatically from feeds, in the same way that the recent posts on other blogs links on this blog works.

Since I first mentioned this, these events have been revised so that they now show both when and where they are taking place, this is some improvement.

The real problem stems from the pages that these feeds come from, this is a website within the council’s main website called, “Thanet District Council Community Information Portal” the url for this is http://communityportal.thanet.gov.uk/home/

When it comes to unusual websites this one ranks fairly high, as soon as you arrive and discover that the latest news is dated 13/07/2010 there are only two other news items and one is dated 2008.

Even the link to the TDC homepage doesn’t take you there, it seems that this site is the result of some sort of EEC grant funding. One hears about aspects of the EEC that are just plain crazy and I suppose this one is just another example.

What though is totally bizarre is that selected events than seem to be taken from this site within a site and put on http://temp.thanet.gov.uk/events.aspx?eventid=100 or perhaps they get there automatically, one way or another they produce the feed http://temp.thanet.gov.uk/feeds/EventRSS.aspx that seems to produce the list of links on the TDC homepage.

Following these events through though takes you into a bizarre world where very little makes any sense the first event “An evening with World Tree Music 27 August 2010” has the url for the Minster in Thanet website, http://www.minster-in-thanet.org.uk/index.shtml this isn’t even presented as a proper link but copying and pasting it gets you the site.

Following this through to their What’s on in Minter page you get the information:

Friday 27th August World Tree Music CANCELLED NEW DATE 22nd OCTOBER.

The picture is of a Chatham House production.

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