Worst Government websites...

This Times of India article on 8 'worst' Indian government websites made interesting reading.  I have had the pleasure (if one may call it) of using the Top 3 entrants there, which are
I am not surprised that they figure in this list, having written about all of them at various points of time.  What makes these sites suck?

Is it because they are developed by Indian IT companies?  (I believe TCS maintains the first and the third - not sure about the second)    This can't be true since these companies do services for most organizations.

I believe it is because the above companies have not engaged professionals to do their user interface based on usability analysis.   As Government organizations, they have probably refined some high-level requirements, invited bidders and given the project to the selected bidder.   Perhaps, the bidder himself has decided on the user interface based on his understanding of the usage.

One could ask why bidders like TCS have not used the best practices that they have learnt in the course of doing various projects to do a better job on these Government websites - perhaps the bids were really low; perhaps the companies wanted to make a big margin by putting the barest minimum effort on these projects.  Perhaps the teams working on these projects were not motivated due to lack of onsite travel opportunities.

Whatever the reason, it is evident that neither the concerned Government department or the software is least bothered about this.   Would the staff of both not be using these websites?  Surely they do.  

What sucks about irctc?

  • I need to register in order to buy a ticket.  Why should I?  It should be optional
  • Auto-complete sucks - I enter 3 letters of the station and invariable it autocompletes against my wishes. I need to forcible remove the autocompletion.
  • It is a very sequential process

   I specify start and end date and get a list of trains
   Then I specify each type of seat and get information about availability
   Then I click on Book and am taken to another screen

  • What is the point in my getting train names without seat availability information? 

  • For all the registration information that we provide, why not pre-populate the booking form with previous booked data and preferences?
  • Why not have an option to book a ticket similar to the last booked with only the changed dates?
  • Why not have an option to book onward and return in one shot - so that I can be sure I get both?
  • Why not have an option not to book unless I have a confirmed ticket?
  • Why not provide an option for me to choose my seat?  Why is seat allocation a magical exercise?

I can go on... It is clear that the application has not been designed for usability or for good user experience.

As for the others, I wrote recently about Passport as well as BSNL.

A few minutes back, I booked a bus ticket using redbus.  What an amazing experience!  I knew exactly what ticket I was buying - screenshot of the bus interiors, location of my seat in the bus, user feedbacks...  I could book in 2-3 mouse clicks.