Thursday, January 28, 2010

My School web site design

Hon Julia Gillard MP, Minister for Education launched the "My School" web site today. This is intended to provide information to the public on schools, including the number of students and teachers, socio-economic status and literacy and numeracy test results. Media reports indicated problems with the site responding. I found the site would not respond at about 9am, but by 9pm it was working well. However some simple changes to the web page design could improve the site.

I ran some tests on the page for the Montessori International College (Buderim,QLD,4556) and found:
This school web page contained:
  1. document: 139.1KB (HTML, text and scripts),
  2. stylesheets: 26.4KB,
  3. images: 16.3KB.
The document contains 4.4 kbytes of text, only 3% of the total. This indicates an excessive used of HTML mark-up in the page design. Reducing this would speed up access to the site. Some simple changes would reduce the code size by two thirds.

The code shows an excessive use of nested DIVs. At one point DIVs are nested ten deep, to display just two images. The large amount of white space which this deep nesting causes may also slow the system down, depending on how the pages and generated and transmitted.

Also automatically generated identifier names appear to be excessively long, such as: id="ctl00_ContentPlaceHolder1_SchoolProfileUserControl_SchoolDescriptionLabel".

In other respects the page is reasonably well designed . It is readable (perhaps more readable) with the styles turned off. However, it is not clear if the general public will be able to understand the complex tables displayed. It might be better to offer an introductory page for each school with summary data. This would also be a way to reduce the load on the server. Most readers will not read past the first few lines of text and therefore downloading the complex tables is a waste of resources.

1 comment:

trent said...

Do you know what web company won the tender to build this site?