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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

India Post

India is still new to the Internet. A lot of established trading houses, merchants and even the Indian Embassy don't have good, usable websites. But I was pleasantly surprised by the India Post website. The website is usable, information is easy to find and most important actions are up-front in the home page. Way to go! :) The postal service has had the sense to hire a good developer who knows his bread and butter to do their website.

If you want an example of a badly done website, you should look at the Indian Embassy (Washington D.C) website. S had to fill an online application form to renew his passport and they had a big disclaimer saying they would ONLY accept online apps. So we dutifully tried it and ended up being their QE team. The 'Submit" button on the application threw a JavaScript error. We couldn't print or save the application because of some other exceptions. Some developer had forgotten the basic rule of coding -- HANDLE EXCEPTIONS!

I can't tell you how annoyed I was -- both as an end user as well as a software professional. As an end user, when I am sending confidential information, it is scary to see some strange exception. Do you take it that your operation failed? Succeeded? As a software professional, I intensely dislike people who can't do their basic homework and follow good practices. Is the Indian Embassy so poor that it can't hire a decent company to do their website? Or is it yet another example of the "chalta hai" attitude we see so much?

4 comments:

subhashssm said...

hey,
actually if u ask me the indian government is so poor that the do not take pains in creating websites.u should also blame bsnl here.their sites are the slowest-dead slow in this part of the world.lots of problems and link just goes of and of.the same thing happened with my friend when he went on to register for a passport.the page gets stuck or the page cannot be displayed.when u open anna university's website during the results - sorry the page cannot be displayed for around say 3 days rite from the results get published.horrible web india

Gopinath Sundharam said...

Yeah, I've seen several Indian websites like this. Sulekha was once like this, but someone noticed (at last!) and it is decently usable now.

With government websites, I think it is more the "chalta hai" attitude. Added to this stupidity, is the sole developer or a team's ignorance (or arrogance?) who doesn't care to test their website across multiple browsers and versions.

I and my friend had similar problems on the Indian Embassy website for San Francisco. Finally after several intriguing hours, we succeeded. Maybe we should post the trick we discovered online. We emailed the webmaster about the problem and as expected didn't get any reply.

I'd happily offer my time, experience and energy (for free of course) to redo their website(s). It would save tons of other people's time and frustration.

Hmmm.. thinking of this now, I did mention about offering my time for free to redo the website, maybe that's why I haven't gotten any reply from the webmaster. :) :) Sigh!

Badhri said...

The website is likely designed and maintained by one Dr. Kushal Pathak (though I have no supporting evidence prima facie).

He is a bureaucrat with India post with passion for web development. He also designed and maintains websites aimed at public good indiarti.org and bighelpers.org. For India post officials.. he has http://www.sahuliyat.com/

expertdabbler said...

This is not restricted to government/public sites.

I can testify the same against the likes of Geojit used for online trading. Gopinath (who commented here) knows better

I had similar problems in wordpress control panel with my ISP. I had like thousands of spam comments. Guess what? the developer had implemented in such a way that all those thousands of comments were to be loaded in a single web page.

I know I would ruffle a few feathers if i say this, but the VFS website to book visa appointments with the US consulate is not exactly a charm to use either.