Further developments – Accessibility and usability
Now that we have launched our developers are settling into a more regular release schedule. A lot of the work that they are doing is on the back-end – making things more stable, making it easier to build on, etc. However, we are keen to keep improving the experience you get, so we have been sneaking in some extra items so the site doesn't get stale and responds to your feedback – either on the site, via e-mail or on Twitter. One of the areas we were most concerned with was accessibility and compatibility – we want to offer everyone the same high quality service.
In building we have been careful to keep the site navigation as simple as possible and keep the site accessible. We did try and it is even navigable on text browsers like lynx. However, there was an excellent post this week on the User vision blog that highlighted some changes we needed to make. We have put the first phase of these live now with our accessibility statement and a sitemap. The others will be fixed in the next release.
We have been doing on IE 6 compatibility. Again, this is not something that was 'broken' but the experience was slightly different to those using IE 7+, Firefox, Safari or Chrome. Those of you on IE 6 should now have an experience closer to that on other browsers. However, please do drop us a line if you discover something we should be working on. While we have systematic testing, it is difficult to test all possible permutations of browser and environment.
Finally we have made some changes to the data browsing and search functions. We have added the ability to browse by public body. We have also started to include the data type icons in some of the search results to make navigation that little bit easier. These icons are directly linked to the download URL supplied by the data owner - where possible to the underlying dataset itself, sometimes to the web page which tells you how to access or download the data. Browsing and search is still very much a work in progress so any and all feedback is welcome.