Andrew Channels Dexter Pinion

Wherein I write some stuff that you may like to read. Or not, its up to you really.

May 16, 2005

It's The Web Stupid

A technology company of my acquaintance has an internal web site called, unoriginally, the <insert company name here> portal. It is rubbish. Here's why;

It's got a fairly standard, straight out of the text book, portal look. The middle pane
contains a list of news items. They are all links to Word documents.

That's right, Word documents, actual files that end in .doc and which you can edit. Which would be fine if they were actual documents. But they aren't. One of the items currently in the news pane on this site is a link to Word document with a single line of text and a hyperlink to a gallery of photographs on another, internal, web page.

The mind boggles. You would think that a web site alive and running here in 2005 would use HTML, but apparently not.

I said they're all Word documents, well they are except the one whose URL ends in .msg. Clicking on this tries to open Microsoft Outlook which isn't installed on the machine I'm using. So I can't read that message.

Needless to say, the whole portal looks horrible in any browser other than Internet Explorer.

Finally, and this one is a killer - please bear in mind that this is a technology consulting company - is the message about email storage. Naturally it's delivered in a Word document, although this one has no hyperlinks. Apparently I can only read email using company approved email software that has been configured by a qualified support team member. If further notes that employees are banned from editing or changing this configuration. Nice to know that I'm not qualified to configure my own software.

Aside from the horror that is this technology implementation it's probably a good life lesson. When applying for jobs with technology companies look at how they use it internally. Because, in my view at least, your own internal systems should be your first reference when convincing customers of your know how and experience.

Posted by Andy Todd at May 16, 2005 12:21 PM


Well, I work for a big Big BIG corporation which almost everyone of you will have dealt with at some stage. The intranet is really Really REALLY crap: slow, non-standard, user unfriendly, full of animated gifs, of .doc .ppt just as if they were normal HTML! Corporations produce the informatic equivalent of Mc Donalds burgers! If you want gourmet food you'd better look elsewhere.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on May 16, 2005 10:30 PM

Sounds like you are suffering from the Engineer's Complex. Alot of IT people feel that if they are X then they can do anything (substitute "dba", "developer", etc. for X). Problem is, no one with this Complex will admit they don't know everything.

However, just for fun. If you ever have a brain tumor, goto a pediatrist, instead of a neurosurgon. I mean, they are both doctors, right?

Maybe instead of a coping an attitude about not being able to configure your own software you should admit that Support Teams provide a valuable service to any company. I work for a smaller company and it is not uncommon to have company mandated software.

Posted by: Some Guy on June 10, 2005 07:23 AM

You'll be unsurprised to learn that this is an expression of control and mistrust that seems to have originated in the physical workplace, where it is sometimes referred to as the Furniture Police.

More here:

Posted by: Alastair on October 30, 2005 12:46 PM

The company I work for requires authentication for the intranet site. Not only that, but it requires everyone to RE-authenticate every TWO HOURS. With a straight face they advise everyone in the company to hit refresh on the intranet site at least every once every two hours to avoid re-authenticating. Unbelievable.

They also actively blocks browsers other than IE on their intranet site. To be honest I don't know how they do it, because it's NOT based on the User-Agent string. As always, Hanlon's Razor applies.

Posted by: S. Puppet on October 30, 2005 12:51 PM