Yesterday I noticed the following notice on the 5 day weather report pages on the Met Office (what the Meteorological Office now call themselves) website.
"This page will be removed later in the year and may not contain the latest information. Please use our new pages:"
These days, when a web service that I use regularly (pretty much daily) announces that they are introducing a new website, I am filled with foreboding.
OK, lets not get ahead of ourselves here. There are a few good things that the Met Office have done. They've added a few more columns to the 5 day reports giving humidity, a precipitation probability percentage, regional weather warnings and a "feels like" temperature indication encompassing the wind chill factor. I like these, thanks.
There's also access to a zoom-able weather map with a time line feature. It's a bit clunky and awkward to use, but there's some good intention there and it might be useful. The time line tab seems a waste of time (heh). It simply recapitulates the information on the 5 day forecast in a different less useful form. The temperature range tab may be useful for people wanting that information so that's good and then there are some text forecasts for regional, national and national park weather.
All that is new, so thanks again.
Now, sadly, for the dogs dinner of the presentation of the new website.
Some major issues, discovered after about 10 minutes or so looking at the website (do organisations actually test their websites anymore?) ...
Turn off cookies and you lose access to the weather reports and site navigation without being told or given any reason or warnings.
Losing access to a public website simply because a cookie cannot be set is completely unacceptable. I'll not mince my words, to get to this level of incompetence (on a major government website) you must be really trying to screw up.
Despite my heading above, I do not think that simply placing a warning on the website would rectify this situation. This has obviously been caused by the bizarre fact that cookies have been used for website navigation (see comments below about bookmarking pages).
When I first suspected this I wasn't sure I could be right, but tests showed that this was indeed the case.
Report page locations are selected using settings in a cookie.
This means that you cannot bookmark weather report pages.
I can't imagine why on earth someone made this design decision, it defies all sense and seriously degrades the usefulness of the website.
Yes, locations are kept in a cookie but when you return to the website after clearing cookies (a sensible thing to do regularly and commonly done by browsers when closing down) you have to negotiate the irritating "search" function to find any weather reports.
Personally, I wish to quickly access a number of weather report pages when I go onto the Met Office website. Previously I bookmarked those pages and could open them all quickly and scan through the reports. The loss of this basic and normal functionality of a website is a pretty inexplicable move by the developer and those who approved what they did.
Sorry? I thought that I was doing a search? What am I supposed to be saving and how do I simply get to the weather report page for the location I put in? Confusingly you have to click on "save" to complete your search.
This is a really badly thought out feature.
Image: Met Office: search confusion
"Search" does different things on different pages.
Do a "search" on the home page and it sends you back to the home page with a new default location.
Do seemingly the same "search" on a 5 day weather report page and it sends you a 5 day report for that location.
Doing any location search resets your default location for the whole website. This is confusing and unnecessary.
Reports have been put in a "widget" style.
What this means practically is that you can no longer scan through a 5 day report and quickly assess the weather over those days. You have to click back and forth through tabs showing separate reports for each day.
It is no longer a 5 day report but a selection of 1 day reports that you have to continually click back and forth through to make sense of the pattern of the weather.
"Improvements to your website"
This is the title of a page on the Met Office website where they try to explain the reasons for the changes. The title of the page is an oxymoron. This is not my website, this is the website of the Met Office and no amount of blather can change that fact.
Talk of "consultation" and "your website" simply seems like a buck-passing exercise. A way to disown any problems with the website by saying "we did consultation, this is what everyone wanted so its their fault".