Constructive criticism of the UKAPW approach

The UKAPW does not reach the standards to which actuaries should aspire. It fails to provide world class support to members. myFIA proclaims this boldly but constructively.

What's the problem?

The UKAPW seems not to have been thought through at a high level. This is apparent in various respects, which form the content for this "constructive criticism" section. In summary:
  • Home page – too little functionality and graphics, too many graphics.
  • Bad links – dead links, misdirection to the login page or to the wrong documents.
  • Content – poorly written doorway pages, inconsistent content, non-availability of past conference papers.
  • Functionality – functionality is inaccessible from home page, site features has no relevant links.
  • Layout – inconsistent, with poor use of third column.
  • Navigation – translucent horizontal navigation, repeated consecutive links.
  • Sitemap – inaccessible and non-printable sitemap with multiple repeats (see Events section).

In short, the UKAPW provides neither the functionality nor the accessible content that the Profession's members deserve. In the recent rebranding form has triumphed over substance.

The critical areas

I believe there are a number of areas which are central to a website's success, seven of which are included in my critique of the UKAPW. The areas are listing under the "Constructive criticism" part in the right hand pane. All of these areas relate to how a visitor can make best use of a website, without wasting time or expending unreasonable effort.

More than a critique

myFIA is more than criticism. The critique areas are brought together with a suggestion on "sorting it out" Criticism is rooted in an examination of four case study websites Finally, the positive alternatives section gives specific implementations for some of these ideas. I'm positive about the opportunity to significantly improve the UKAPW.

What isn't covered in the critique?

There are a number of areas which, although potentially important to a website, are not always central. Some of them (e.g. Javascript and CSS) are almost impossible to discuss without delving into the technical details. Three such areas are briefly discussed below, but are not covered elsewhere in our critique.

[1] Colour, graphics, typography

These elements are important to the "look and feel" of a website: the "worst website of the year" winners usually triumph through poor choice of colour, graphics and typography rather than anything more subtle.

Worst websites of the year: 2005-20102005-2010 overview

[2] Cascading style sheets

CSS is a range of techniques allowing the appearance of a website to be controlled in a powerful and efficient way, without e.g. embedding <FONT> tags within HTML pages. While there are many CSS evangelists, CSS is primarily a means to an end: the technical side should be invisible to the user.

[3] Javascript

Javascript is essentially about programming websites, usually through the user's browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox etc). The user has the ability to turn Javascript "off" so that relying on it for core site functionality is not advisable; if programming is genuinely needed "server side" techniques are a more robust alternative.

On modern websites Javascript is more often used to enhance the user's browsing experience. An example: elements of the website can be made to appear and disappear according to various criteria. This technique is illustrated on our positive alternative to the UKAPW sitemap