Back in Business, the Troubled July 14 Site




France’s official website France.fr created to enhance the national image, is back up again, after an initial abortive launch July 14, sparked derision on the Web.

francefrsite

Back up and running after an embarrassing launch crash on Bastille Day

Thierry Saussez director of the Government Information Service (GIS), said August 16: “France.fr reopened this morning. We consider that we are currently undergoing a large-scale test. The official relaunch of the site will come once we have updated all information…” he told Le Parisien.

Government has so far spent some 860,000 euros of a total budget of 1.6 million, on designing and launching the comprehensive website, which went live July 14 on the annual national holiday … and promptly crashed.

“When one is in recovery phase, one must be cautious,” Thierry Saussez, added, saying: “We have no margin for error this time. That is why we are being very cautious.”

France.fr, currently offering 3000 pages, 12,000 links, and 1 million indexed documents, aims to provide practical information for visiting, working, living, and investing in France. It is also an entry point to government departments such as Inland Revenue, Social Security, autoentreprenuer etc. It delivers important online help and information about the country. France is one of the last EU member states to launch such a site. EU directives have made digital transactions and e-business with government departments mandatory.

The government portal, available in five languages, began malfunctioning within hours of its launch with English pages turning up on the French site and a host of other problems. Sig attempted to resolve the issues by reconfiguring its servers but eventually closed down the portal temporarily.

After much criticism and long delays Sig posted a notice July 22, saying France.fr hoped to reopen in mid-August.

The incident provoked derision from Internet and Twitter commenters and elsewhere. The high-tech U.S. blog Techcrunch, a reference site for tech nerds, mocked France, and took bets on how long it would be before the site reopened, itself cruelly suggesting … 2013.

France’s ambivalent approach to the Internet is seen by some as a reflection of its disappointment that for a short while back in the early 80s the country led the world with its slow, clunky but much-loved Minitel digital network. This innovation was prompted by the then state-owned national telephone operator’s desire to save money by not printing and distributing bulky phone directories.

However France’s Minitel soon found itself overtaken by a largely US-funded World Wide Web. Ever since, French website design and usability has tended to lag behind the benchmarks established by the early adopters.

Story: Ken Pottinger
editorial@french-news-online.com



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3 Responses to Back in Business, the Troubled July 14 Site

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Back in business, the troubled July 14 website « French News Online Newsroom -- Topsy.com

  2. Craig McGinty August 22, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    …and it is believed to be costing €4 million!
    http://bit.ly/bwPnSC

  3. Pingback: Homage to Minitel – RIP Petite Boîte Marron « FrenchNewsOnline

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