Taxpayer forks out £360,000+ for rookie website

The UK Supreme Court’s new website, made by Logica and built on RedDot CMS, has cost the taxpayer £360,000 – and while not being an overly shoddy job on the surface, it’s not tendered.

An article by Simon Dickson at Puffbox criticises the effort. You would expect, for that amount of cash, there would be decent HTML coding, but he reckons there are some basic errors that shouldn’t be overlooked. Firstly, he notes that the site is primarily, “almost exclusively”, made up of PDF files. 

There is nary a single RSS feed to be found. Simon reckons there should be several, but not one is available.

We talked to a coding source who agreed with the notes on Puffbox. He told TechEye:”The worst thing is no tendering process – they were just given the work. It’s madness – it’s so painful, there’s nothing complicated about the site. The worst bit may be pulling in the case details, but it’s just flat data.

“It’s not a badly done site, just an expensive one.” 

There are some rookie errors, our source tells us: “Firstly, it doesn’t actually validate, there are no feeds, and there are broken accessibility links in one case.”

In the original Freedom of Information request, it was asked if estimates on salary, overheads and the time of people involved could be revealed. The answer was: “This information is unavailable as this was only one of a number of work-streams within the Supreme Court Implementation Programme. The internal staff worked across the whole programme, and there are no specific breakdowns for website costs.”

“It’s a bit worrying if they have no idea how long staff spent working on the website”, our source said to us. 

Miles Cheverton, of The Tall Designer, told us he reckons a far better website could have been achieved for less: “A team of 4, over about 4-6 months with a budget of 80-120K could produce a far better site that matched the needs of the sites users far better. I’ve used Red Dot and it’s certainly not the best CMS I have encountered and I wouldn’t think it suitable for this sort of job.

“The site doesn’t seem to have been developed with the needs of users in mind at all, PDF files might be easier for internal staff to publish but they certainly aren’t easier for users to read or to access – why not have releases in full HTML with a PDF download option?”

The original FOI request can be found here.