Molly speaks up... #23

...royal access...
(revisiting the Royal House of Norway.)

getting better...

Finally, after a long wait I revisited the Royal House of Norway, and was at first pleasantly surprised by the improvements since my last visit. Looks, and feels, like a completely reworked and redesigned site all through.

I'm only interested in how well the site works for visitors – all visitors. What the site is all about doesn't really matter to me, I leave that to you humans.― Molly 'the cat'

So, what we have here is a web site anyone can visit, and maybe find the information they're looking for. Let's see what we got.

A screenshot doesn't say all that much...
Royal House of Norway
...but on the surface it looks like an alright presentation of our Royal family.
Also comes in English, and is well worth a visit.

So far so good. Most of the site actually seems to make sense now, and – more important – the site seems to be a bit more accessible at first glance. But is it really?

am I too early..?

I have a feeling that I am visiting the Royal House of Norway site a bit too early after the redesign, as it seems to be a bit incomplete and the basic functionality not built in yet.

The more I look around on that site, the weaker it becomes. It is as if those behind this redesign have few ideas about web design apart from the purely visual. That's simply not good enough!

I think I'll wait a while before making my mind up on whether this is a real improvement over the previous version, or just another of those dime-a-dozenemperor's new clothes” redesigns.

In the mean time I'll comment on what's there at the moment of writing, and update my comments if/when I observe any changes. I'm not a frequent visitor to that site, so no immediate comments/updates after a change, can be expected.

transitional, with major flaws...

They have added a doctype now, but haven't made a good choice or made a very good job based on it. Not only the doctype but rather the entire source-code appears as Transitional, in more than one sense. They should have chosen a Strict doctype, and produced code in accordance with the relevant standard.

The fact that I haven't found pages with completely valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional source-code on the royal site – yet, isn't all that surprising or interesting. Those pages are after all served as HTML – not XHTML, so they will for most parts be saved by browsers' error-correction anyway.

However, most of the errors are so completely unnecessary...
 validator response
...that one may wonder why no one has bothered to fix them.

the basics are missing...

A web site should have basic accessibility and functionality built in from the start. Adding such basics on later with any degree of success, is more or less impossible, and any real professional web designer/developer should know that by now.

the short list:
  • Parts of navigation relies entirely on javascript, which doesn't make it very accessible.
  • They also use CSS to space out empty links in order to make them clickable, which definitely isn't an accessible method.
  • The use of inline onmouseover for simple link:hover effects is an obsolete method, and it causes flickering.
  • No site should be as weak as this...

    ...when subjected to regular font resizing.

minor, but irritating, flaws...

I'll let my thrusty old text-only browser take over from here. Oh, well, it isn't all that old as it was released only a couple of weeks before I wrote this article, so no use complaining about old software at my end.

This text-only browser is fast, and neither images, Javascript or CSS make any impression on it – excellent for testing sites for informational value and basic accessibility and functionality/usability.

not enough?

The front page on the Crownprince family's part of the site, seems to be a bit short on text-information to let us know what it's all about. That front page is basically only a link-page anyway, so one can claim that it is partially working. However, it isn't a very good solution.


Some pages have duplicate information about images, both in the alt-attribute and as ordinary text below the image. Proper use of empty alt-attributes would remove the noise.

The use of alt-attributes to inform me that there's an image of a “strek” (line) above and below the text, is also just noise. Purely decorative images should have empty alt-attributes.

missing links?

As can be seen on the image above: there are no “previous” or “next” links next to the “1/3” info, so I can't get to the other images/info with a text-only browser. The links are empty and spaced out with CSS and given background images, and that simply doesn't work when neither images nor CSS are supported. Thus, the informational value of those extra pages is zero – they simply don't excist.

The flash-solution is tailored to only work in “you know which” browser, which to me is fine since I don't like moving pictures on ordinary web sites unless I am given a choice and can turn them on and off.
I never surf with any version of “you know which” browser either, but that's an entirely different matter.

early conclusion...

So far it looks like a repetition of an old problem ― a conflict between the following statements.

“The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.” ― Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web


“Access for minority-groups will always be limited by my lack of knowledge. That's just the way it is.” ― anonymous web designer

We'll see how it turns out on the Royal House of Norway site – another day.

update [11.jul.2007]: just to say that there are no visible accessibility or usability related improvements on that site 3½ month after I first looked at it.
It's a shame seeing the Royal House of Norway site in such a state, but apart from commenting on it it really doesn't bother me much. I'm just glad that nobody I know has had anything to do with the design of that site.


Scratching keyboards and evaluating web sites is hard work, even with a good assistant. So, it is time to finish off with a word of wisdom.

All limitations can be overcome by knowledge and determination. You can take my word for it. ― Molly 'the cat'

I really need a sip of warm cow-milk – now. Where are those cows?

sincerely  molly 'the cat'

Hageland 25.apr.2007
▶ last rev: 11.jul.2007

Molly speaks up...

Molly: is it an improvement, or isn't it?
Opera: not sure, yet...
Molly: neither.



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