Finnmatkat launches their redesigned site

Finnamatkat just launched their redesigned site. With skepticism in the front of my mind I decided to see if web standards were given any consideration on the new site. I know that I’d used the old site at some point of time, but I couldn’t remember anything about it.

The new site looks surprisingly clean and ad free. Or maybe it’s just my broser settings with adblock set to filter quite agressively. (Update: an unfiltered Mozilla gives the same clean interface, so no problems there.) Even Flash is used in a moderate fashion and there aren’t too many intrusively animated objects to fill my screen. Changing the font size causes some problems, but nothing major. Even turning off images doesn’t cause any problems. So far, I’m quite impressed. It even looks like the developers of the site have known what they’re doing. (Now doesn’t that sound arrogant? Remember, I’m being a skeptic here ;).

Looking at the code causes some concerns. To start off, I was surprised to see that the DTD used is XHTML Strict. Correction, I was positively surprised. However, the developers appear to have forgotten to change the language decleration of the html-element. Swedish isn’t a good option for the language setting of a page with content only in Finnish. The code is not clean or aesthetic and clearly some sort of development tools have been used to create the site, the element identifiers are so convoluted that they weren’t written by hand.

The site almost validates, the front page gets eight validation errors, all of which are minor and easily corrected. There is a minor point that the content encoding declared by the server and in the meta-element conflict. Another small issue that is easily corrected. Validating the CSS causes more errors and a slew of warnings, mostly about the use of the background-property. Nothing major jumps at me though.

My main problem with the site is that it appears to use quite a bit of scripting. At least the page code has a declaration that if JavaScript is turned off, users should change their browser settings. I’m not against using scripting etc. but am a strong proponent of unobtrusive JavaScript. A travel agent’s site should (I’d go as fas as saying must) work without JavaScript. In reality, after some fiddling around with the site I can’t even figure out what JavaScript is really required for. Other than developer lazyness.

What annoys me the most though is that the site doesn’t offer clean URIs. Even the front page is redirected to an insane URI. However, I don’t have any idea if any ASP.NET tools and servers have similar functionality to Apache’s mod_rewrite. If they don’t, well just another reason to choose good tools for the job…

All in all, I’m positively impressed. It appears that standards based development may be on the rise even in Finland. What taints the site is that a bit more care and a simple run through the W3C validators would leave an even better impression. Since accessibility isn’t my strong point (at least yet), I’ll leave accessibility evaluations to others.