The Disappointing Launch of Ireland.com
Back in October 2012, the domain Ireland.com was bought for €500,000. At the time some people weren’t too happy that Tourism Ireland (funded by the Irish government) spent so much on a domain, but I actually thought it was quite a good deal considering the potential that it had (For people that don’t know, I’m Irish!).
Unfortunately, things started to go downhill since then. Yesterday, Ireland.com was launched which you can read about from The Independent. Before you read on, why don’t you visit the site and try to guess how much the site cost?
I’ve asked a few people this question and not one of them get anywhere near the actual cost of the site. The total cost of the site to the Irish taxpayer is a massive €3,000,000 but let’s not forget that this includes the domain. So, this site cost €2,500,000! Bargain, right?
If you spent that amount of money on a website I bet that you wouldn’t expect there to be any problems with the site, but let’s take a look at just some of the problems that you can see on Ireland.com (I’d be here all day if I were to write about all of them!):
- According to the Irish Times the site was “specifically designed with touch-based tablets in mind”. This simply isn’t true, the site isn’t even responsive (read about the importance of responsive design in 2013 at Mashable). Here’s what the site looks like when I went on it using my iPhone:
And since I can’t read anything, I decided to zoom in to see if that’d help like it does with most sites. Unfortunately, it makes things even worse:
- Even when you visit the site on a computer there’s well too much happening on screen. There are well too many options and it’s just confusing. In the link to The Independent that I posted above you’ll see that they say that the site is simpler to use since it has “just 17 links on its home page instead of over 70 on the old site”. So, just because it has less links on the homepage it makes it much easier to navigate, try telling that to people who visit Ireland.com! If the design was done well you could have 100’s of links on the homepage and still make an amazing site, especially if you had millions to spend.
- When you hit the back button to go to the page that you were previously on, you’re presented with a black screen and nothing else. Surely the people who were paid €2,500,000 to make this done some basic testing before sending it off? Obviously not.
- Since this site will mainly be used by tourists, it’d be a good idea to allow visitors to read in different languages such as French and so on. However, if you do this you’ll end up seeing things like this: Découvrez l'Irlande
- If you’re able to find the part of the site that allows you to contact them via Twitter (seriously, it’s harder than it sounds!) you’ll end up having to authorise them to use your account, including giving them the ability to post tweets for you. I honestly can’t understand why they’d need to do this when all I want to do is send a Tweet.
- There’s 11 languages to choose from (once again, if you can find how to change the language on the site), and believe it or not Irish isn’t one of them. I know that this site probably isn’t aimed towards people that live in Ireland (most people don’t even speak Irish anyway) but it’d still be nice to have this to allow tourists to see what the Irish language is like.
- I tested out the map page, searched for hotels in Dublin and ended up getting a range of hotels all over the country as you can see below:
- As you can see from this tweet, some buttons that are on the site are extremely difficult to read. Once again, this is basic stuff.
- Apparently if you use some cookie / ad blockers the website will be a blank page. With more and more people using ad blockers and so on this is just ridiculous.
- Tourism Ireland claim that there are over 1,700 images of Ireland on the site. Well, that’s great isn’t it? You might as well have 1,700 images of cats on the site because people will never be able to find what they’re looking for.
- As most people that read posts on my site know, SEO is really important for any website. I took a look at the source code of this page and I was shocked that there was just one keyword used. This page isn’t even buried deep on the site, it was on the homepage. I can only imagine what some of the others pages that are near impossible to find are like.
Even on the homepage of the site, the title is simply Ireland.com as well as having 4 words in the description (including the word “and”). Doesn’t exactly look professional, does it?
- Last but definitely not least, this site just isn’t worth €2,500,000. According the Niall Gibbons who is the chief executive of Tourism Ireland, the company who built the site (a London-based agency Hugo & Cat) was chosen since they offered “the best combination of capability and value”. Personally, I don’t think they done a good job, and it certainly wasn’t good value either. Not only this, but it’s disappointing that we didn’t give an Irish agency the opportunity to make this site, at least then the €2,500,000 would stay in our economy!
Photo for this post used under Creative Commons from Images of Money.