TSA Website Debacle

There’s a follow-up piece on Wired about the strange TSA website that was originally discussed in Wired’s 27B Stroke 6 blog on February 14. The whole thing is a fiasco and an embarrassment for the already-embattled TSA, for sure. But I think it’s really embarrassing for the web developer who they contracted to create the Traveler Verification Identity Program website. This company comes off looking like a bunch of unprofessional boobs who rushed a site to production without doing any testing, or even spell-checking, apparently. Honestly – a bare minimum of testing would have found most of the problems identified in 27B Stroke 6, and allowed for a chance to rectify them before being seen by the public. Certainly the grammatical errors, spelling problems, and nonsensical instructions could have been spotted by any competent tester or even a copy editor. Unencrypted links on secure pages, a link purported to be to a PDF doc that actually points at a Word doc, inconsistent labeling of required fields, cut-off and nonsensical sentences, and missing pages could have all been identified if testing by a minimally-qualified QA person were done.

Of course, being the QA fanatic that I am, I had to do a little sniffing around. Never mind that their home page is pretty boring looking, and it’s not clear that the navigation is actually a navigation. Yes, their contact address is a PO Box instead of a street address (one of the things that made the Wired blog suspect a phishing scheme instead of a real TSA-approved site), who knows why? Maybe the whole company consists of a guy in his garage or something, and he doesn’t want his home address out there. I looked at their “What We’ve Done”  page and saw a mixed bag of small and large websites, some ugly as sin and some tolerable. They also claim some pretty big sites (USA Today? Monster? FBI?) in their portfolio. A cursory glance through some of the sites listed found a few problems, which won’t be detailed here. For that, they’d have to pay me. 😉

The moral of the story is, of course, the government is inept and has a knack for choosing inept contractors. I’m kidding! No, the real moral is – QA is your friend, and can save you embarrassment and bad publicity, if you’ll only use it.

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