ourbrisbane.com is a high-profile community site for my home town (run by the city council), which has just launched a new-look site - probably to coincide with a tv ad campaign. While the look and feel is really just an evolution of their old design, the real success is under the bonnet. Some key points:

  • Gone is the old table-based design, hello DIVs and CSS.
  • The design scales nicely when you increase the text size - many sites still fail this check.
  • There's a skip link to avoid the (quite long) navigation in screen readers.
  • The flyout navigation uses real links, not hash links; so if you disable javascript or can't use the flyouts you can still click through to the sections - which have all the flyout options.
  • Works in Opera 8 and Firefox 1.0.4 - this should not be a separate item, but considering sites like news.com.au actually launched designs that crashed browsers other than IE... it gets a tick.

It's not perfect though...

  • Sub-pages still use layout tables.
  • They've made the old classic mistake of forgetting to explicitly set their white background colour. UPDATE: They've now set the background. Either they noticed themselves, or they read their feedback emails :)
  • The page doesn't validate, mostly due to a missing quote in an IMG element and a stack of javascript triggers (invalid attributes).
  • Some link colour combinations fail contrast checks (tested using the AIS Colour Contrast Analyser), most notably the bright orange What's On section.

All up? Well there are things I'd do differently and a few errors that need fixing, but realistically this is a huge step forward for ourbrisbane.com. It would have to be a high-traffic site, so they should be experiencing faster load times and lower bandwidth usage. Based on a brief evaluation, I'd expect an assistive technology user would be able to use the site quite well; whereas I'd expect they probably would have given up on the old one.

So while it may not be a pure-standards exemplar, ourbrisbane.com is miles ahead of most government-funded websites we have here in Australia.