IIA STATEMENT IN RESPONSE TO TOURISM IRELAND AWARDING CONTRACT TO LONDON BASED COMPANY
In response to the Tourism Ireland decision to spend €2.5million on the development of the new Tourism Ireland website www.Ireland.com the Irish Internet Association on behalf of its members would like to express its serious disappointment that an agency of the state have preferred to employ the services of a London web development company over an Irish one.
There are a number of points that need to be addressed. Firstly, as a country in a job crisis we should be doing everything in our powers to support jobs locally. On principle as well as in practice, this ethos should be of highest importance for government agencies leading by example. In this specific instance, IIA members were shortlisted for this tender and we know that domestic rates are far more competitive that those reportedly paid. In accepting that price is not the only factor and that technical merit was the other criteria used, it is worth noting that on the subjective yet technical issue of design and user experience, the general view is that there are already some basic user experience shortcomings with this site.
Secondly, we must look at the broader ramifications of this decision. The majority of global technology companies have elected Ireland as their European base given the high quality of talent here. Beyond the specifics of this particular case, the political message that this decision is sending out to the world is counter-productive and anti-jobs. On the one hand, we have the IDA and Government Ministers working to increase foreign direct investment with a strong focus on the technology industry. On the other hand, in this single decision, we have a state agency saying that it is not possible to secure high quality and good value web design and development services here.
Tourism Ireland is responsible for attracting visitors to Ireland. Holiday tourism is important but so too is business and education tourism. They are asking people to visit a vibrant and welcoming country but is it also one that is so insecure about itself, so lacking in faith in its own people that when given the choice they will partner with a foreign company rather than an Irish one? The argument that this spend represents less than 10% of its total budget for the year is reminiscent of boom years when pockets were deep. The measure of value in these straitened times should surely not be that they got it for a small % of a large amount but rather that they got it for the very best possible price and in doing so factored in the multiplier effect of keeping those jobs in Ireland and promoting the world class standards that exist within our country.
Tourism Ireland’s new website was designed by Hugo and Cat — a creative agency for a digital world.
To quote their own website:
“Creativity from Insight
Consumer engagement. Conversion. Advocacy. A full house in buzzword bingo – but they’re what our clients come to us for.
We’re a digital creative agency specialising in content marketing, experience design and technology, underpinned by strategic planning. We’re all about big ideas without a big attitude, so you’ll get to know the people creating the work that gets your audience talking.
Why not stop by and say hello?”
Originally published on the IIA website
Bock The Robber had an amusing take on the whole farce:
At first glance it appears that the cat did most of the work, and a very well paid cat he is indeed, while Hugo did most of the talking. But what a talker Hugo is, persuading the Tourism Ireland management that a website should cost €2.5 million to design and build.
How appropriate for this pantomime.
Hugo and Cat
Let’s say the cat is on a hundred grand a year, which is good money by any standards in a time of austerity, especially when all you need to survive is the odd fish-bone. This means that the moggy needed to spend 25 years working on the project, which, you’ll agree, uses up several of his lives.
Two and a half million buckaroonies for a website isn’t chickenfeed. but hold on. A man like Hugo would have no ordinary cat. Any feline in his world would be the very cream of cat programmers, so let’s say he’s on a grand a day, because he’s worth it. That means he spent 2,500 days developing this website. Giving him weekends off to prowl the rooftops flashing the dosh at the lady cats — Loadsamoney!! — he still spent a full ten years on the job. That must be a hell of a website, wouldn’t you think?
Well, yes, you would think so, but you’d be wrong. This is the most confused, ill-functioning website you might ever have seen. It starts nowhere and it goes nowhere. It looks like somebody stole it and crashed it into a wall. If there’s a wrong way to do it, a right way to screw it up, nobody does it like us, and so, in their wisdom, the authorities awarded the contract to a London-based firm, rather than a local developer, even though their tender was not the lowest. Not that there’s anything wrong with a firm simply because it’s based in London, but since there’s no shortage of developers in Ireland, it seems surprising that Tourism Ireland couldn’t find a single one that came within a whisker of Hugo and his feline friend. Nobody was up to scratch.
Of course, the formidable managerial intellects at Tourism Ireland weren’t satisfied with spending the two and a half million on Hugo’s cat. They also decided that they should buy the domain name ireland.com from the Irish Times for half a million euros.
For some reason, they felt it was better to have an American domain representing Ireland than our own .ie extension.
I don’t know. This doesn’t seem like a decision based on professional advice, but of course, as usual, I might be wrong. I’d be very interested to hear what professional advice they had when they drew up the request for proposals. Were any web professionals involved in preparing the tender documents? What factors persuaded Tourism Ireland to award the contract to a company whose tender was not the lowest? What personnel prepared the detailed specification ? Did any external consultants assist in completion of the specification? Did any external consultants assist in evaluation of the completed design to ensure compliance with the brief? If so, who did these consultants work for?
So many questions.
One question has finally been answered, of course.
We now know that a cat can most certainly laugh.
Originally published on Bock
Irish Web Design notes that the website does not perform very well on mobile devices and smart phones.