I finally got around to re-registering on the new BC Government’s Bid site, and I must say, I’m really impressed.

They designed the site to meet HTML 4.01 standards, for an 800 X 600 resolution, using the W3C’s Accessibility Initiative as a guideline for accessibility. The site validates, which is nice. The main information pages are fully usable in Lynx and contain and does indeed fit in a small browser window (although it looks a little lost on my giant resolution).

Of course, the main thrust of this site is the bid list application. The registration process was smooth, easy to understand, and contained all the right error-checking (main complaint: this site is heavily javascript-enabled, and would not work if I did not use or have javascript enabled). I was able to sign up, get help on the parts I was confused about very quickly.

One of the confusing parts that wasn’t very well thought out is the ‘products’ selector, which allows a company to indicate what topics they want to receive notifications for. There were drill downs to lower-level menus, but the drill-downs were only indicated by a ‘…’ with no note before hand telling me this. I signed up for a whole category, until I realized there was subcategories, and I only wanted to be part of one subcategory. This could have been handled with more conventional arrows, +/- signs, or even words (like:’more’ or ‘sub-categories’ or ‘drill-down’). Second, when saving one’s selections, the options were ‘submit remain’ or ‘reset’. I guessed ‘submit remain’ was what I wanted, but I wasn’t sure what that meant. Seeing as there wasn’t a ‘submit return’, I’m not sure why the ‘remain’ was important for me to know. On the otherhand, after making changes to my list, I accidentally clicked ‘return to top’, and it prompted me to see if I wanted to save my changes. I did, so it saved them, and returned me to the top.

When reviewing the list of ‘opportunities’, it appeared to list ALL opportunities, not just ones that matched my profile, which should be an easy filter to apply. I didn’t see a way to see only opportunities that matched my profile — a seemingly glaring oversight on their part. However, the process of viewing bids was excellent. It opens in a new window, that in a little text-input window, informs you to the second how long you have to submit. There are little folder icons indicating if there are attachments (such as the RFP or RFQ), as well as printable versions. Finally, the primary contact info for the project are prominently listed for all to see.

Overall, I’d probably rate this site a 7 out of 10. It’s very easy to use, has all sorts of help available, and even looks decent enough. It loses points for being so javaScript depended and some unnecessarily confusing language here and there. It’s a fairly new site, so I wouldn’t be surprised if there weren’t a few changes still in the works.