This is a very common step, taken by hundreds, if not thousands, of Australians every week.
However I immediately hit a speed bump.
The site’s online ABN registration process threw up an error message (image below) stating:
Browser not supported
The Australian Business Register currently supports the following browsers:
- Internet Explorer 5.0 and above
- Netscape 6.0 and above
You should update your browser version before you continue using the Australian Business Register. If you believe your current browser is suitable to use, please continue.
Refer to Technical Information for details on how to configure for your browser for the Australian Business Register.
This was confusing and offputting as I was using Firefox 11.0 – one of the most modern web browsers available.
Fortunately I had Internet Explorer 9 on my system and gave this a try – no error screen appeared.
Now if you read far enough into the error message it does state that ‘If you believe your current browser is suitable to use, please continue.’ – however I was in a hurry at the time and, like many users, didn’t read the error message all the way through.
|The error message visible at the Australian Business Register site,
together with the ‘About’ information window for the web browser in use
Regardless of whether this translates into a user error, I believe that there is an obligation on government agencies to ensure their websites are accessible and usable in modern web browsers without unnecessary and confusing error screens.
Essentially, when I have Firefox 11.0, I don’t expect to receive an error stating I need ‘Internet Explorer 5.0 and above’ or ‘Netscape 6.0 and above’ – as my web browser is “above” both and, in fact neither of those web browsers have current for more than 10 years!
For such an important and common business process as registering an ABN the responsible agency needs to take a little more care in its online delivery of services.
Otherwise their online services will damage trust and respect in the government’s ability to deliver and cause customers to migrate to what are slower and (for agencies) higher cost channels.
I’ll bring this issue to the attention of the responsible agency, the Australian Tax Office, and check back in six months to see if anything has changed.
For all other government agencies out there, please check that your public online systems aren’t needlessly damaging your credibility in this way. Please make sure your websites work for modern users!