The State Of Web Standards In Tasmania 2006

“A number who are trying their best to move the system forward and its no easy task”

Its been an interesting year in Tasmania already - we’re nearly half way through after all - and I’ve learned a lot about where the industry is moving forward and where its not. I’m interested to learn more too and to find out who are the leaders in progressive development and who are the circa 1990’s who just don’t get the message. Web standards and accessibility have, in some corners at least, been pushed quite well.

Out of the larger development firms here I’d have to say Future Medium are producing the best product - if I’m wrong then feel free to contact me with corrections. And I don’t just mean graphically but also with underlying code. They actually get the big picture idea of web standards in the most part. So if I were looking for high end work in Tasmania that’s where I’d personally go and I’d emphasise my product should be accessilbe and then I’d let them have their head. Nothing shoots a product more than a client who demands something not right. That’s the best corporate advice I can give.

This year I also did some tedious minor work for the public sector on a site which hasn’t yet come live. My role was only quality assurance on a small portion of pages so my influence was below the threshold you’d normally find rust in the bottom of an abandoned baked bean can - I mean literally - so its entirely their product. The government here, by the way, have a deal now to develop all of their sites across the board in the MySource Matrix Content Management System developed by Squiz. And with beaurocracy being a slow moving monolith I’d expected far less than I saw being achieved so that was a highlight in some respects. While I wouldn’t say the result so far would be a hundred percent I’d say the movement away from the retarded practices of the FrontPage based systems they’re leaving behind has been dramatic.

The progress in the public sector has everything to do with the hard working advocates for web standards who go through the daily mincer of convincing management and wrestling for the slightest control over their project. I can see this would wear me down in the first year so its an admirable stubbornness. Raena Armitage - in some ways more an advocate than nortypig - who now works for Squiz in their Hobart Office, has been one of those public sector advocates until recently and deserves a hat tip. But there would be a number who are trying their best to move the system forward and its no easy task - a little gain here and there though will make some difference to the end product for tax payers.

The next push then would be for a government sector with the power and resources to pour into enhancing accessibility - but that will come in time. There are obviously people with vastly different ideas and obviously a number who believe its only about blind people and don’t quite get it yet. On the whole though progress has been good.

On the freelance side there are a number of good products being made and I find every year more and more people I run into both in University and in the course of business appreciate well designed, semantic, accessible sites with tableless layouts. When I started in 2003 there seemed to be none. I still meet a lot, especially those who have made sites “the old way” for a long time, who don’t want to learn new tricks. I think that’s their choice but a lazy way to go about business not being willing to learn.

There are also quite a few smaller organisations and freelancers around who provide great graphics and could move closer to the great code side of the room. This is the interesting set of developers in my opinion - graphic artist meets decent coder and you get something very good. Some get it and some don’t. I’ve met some who don’t know a thing about web technologies and others with computing degrees as well as high end graphic skill and coding finesse.

Often the reason I review some product on this site in a negative way can be taken wrong. If they weren’t good enough to pay attention to I wouldn’t look at the code at all. These are usually quite good work except they miss the web standards boat in some way or could be improved beyond their current state. Unless of course your site sucks so bad I just have to get the barf bag - but they’re easy to sort for the gems. Common sense will identify which are which.

Future Medium in Battery Point, Hobart

3 Responses to “The State Of Web Standards In Tasmania 2006”

  1. Ben Cleland Says:

    Thanks for writing about this Steven.It’s nice to see someone attempting to make sense of, or at least comment on the state of web development in Tasmania.

    I agree with you about Future Medium but it’s also good to hear your perspective on the Government side of things: I wasn’t aware that MySource Matrix was the way they are going.

    Keep on writing about the local industry and I will keep on reading!

  2. nortypig Says:

    Hi Ben
    Thanks for the input and hope you’re going well. Of course the killer combination for the new way of working will always be 4 specialists - graphic designer, front end coder, back end coder and marketer - working with low overheads. But yes I’d have to concede that currently the best product in Tasmania (as far as I’m aware) on the corporate scene is FM for sure.

    Yes all government sites are going Matrix and I think that’s been for about the last year. Archives Tasmania is made in it and the new education department website is going to be to. So as much as the content produced by public sector managers who don’t know the web is mostly rubbish they are still way and beyond the FrontPage monsters of only a year or so ago. And I was actually mildly surprised at the Matrix CMS too, well worth investing your talents in at the moment if you’re interested in pulling any public sector work for sure.

    I’ve argued with the Matrix people on here in the past about their CMS with claims of AAA compliance and such but overall I’d use it, especially on something of decent size, way before I’d run to Mambo and its newer offshoots - in short I found them dogs (no please don’t any open sourcers shoot me for that one lol).

    Glad to see you read Pig Work on the quiet end of the internet Ben. How’s work been going for you?

  3. nortypig Says:

    I’d write more about the specifics of what’s happening in Tasmania but there is definately a certain protectiveness around projects and companies. Which is understandable. I’m aware of quite a few smaller groups like Work Horse who I greatly admire for their business model alone. Web Standards advocacy aside I think the girls at Futago are slick, I like what I’ve seen of the culture at Ionata in Elizabeth Street.

    The bit that does interest me is the wealth of graphic talent here, some that gets it and some that don’t gets the web thing.

    K gotta run and watch a movie…

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