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The TUC's new website

by Eric Lee

The TUC has launched a new website and, to come right to the point, it's a huge improvement over the previous one. And it's about time.

When I first visited the TUC back in 1997 to talk about their website it was something they were justly proud of. They had funded the development of software called the "virtual building" which allowed any authorised people to easily add documents or links to the TUC site. They were ahead of their time; you still won't find most unions allowing anything like this on their sites. Those that do bother to keep their sites up to date invariably rely on a single person, known as a webmaster.

But having spent all the money on the "virtual building", the TUC site stagnated. Other unions which were expected to purchase the software either failed to come through or, like MSF, quickly abandoned it. And the TUC site itself with its dark brown background and unchanging front page earned a reputation for being one of the least attractive, hardest-to-navigate websites around.

To their credit, the people in charge of these things at the TUC were apparently aware of the problem. I have heard rumours for some time of a site revamp but -- and here's the problem -- everything was done quietly, no effort was made to hear what the millions of working people who actually make up the TUC thought about it.

So even though the new site is colourful and has press releases right up front on the front page, it is still far from perfect. It breaks most of the rules of website usability as propagated by the guru of intelligent website design Jakob Nielsen.

There are many strange things about the site that need fixing. For example, it was quite easy to find out the name and full contact details for the web design company which the TUC had hired. But to find an email address for the TUC? That took me a while.

And there's of information about the TUC's regional structures, including email addresses, but there are no links to regional TUC websites such as UnionsNorth.

And minor design issues aside, so long as the site's concept of news is just press releases from the TUC, it will be of only limited value. One would hope to find actual labour news on the site -- and not just the occasional statement by top TUC officers.

The site does nothing to encourage internal discussion and debate within the trade union movement -- there are no discussion forums, chat rooms, email discussion lists, online polls, etc. The irony is that if you go to any one of thousands of corporate controlled websites, including practically all the mass media sites, you'll find more free-ranging discussion than you will on any trade union website

So, yes, congratulations to the TUC for having come up with a better site. Maybe next time they'll ask some of us what we'd like to see.

This article appeared in Action for Solidarity.

This document was last modified: Wednesday, 23-Nov-2022 08:31:49 CET

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