Described by Minister for Tourism Leo Varadkar as “crucial in promoting The Gathering 2013”, the contract to design the new site was given to a UK agency.
Costing €3 million to develop, including the €500,000 purchase of the domain name from the Irish Times, the site launched in early January.



New Tourism Website Launched (Joanne Hunt, Irish Times)

86 thoughts on “Gather This

  1. Emmett

    Would have thought that everyone by now would have read EU directive 1251 / 2011 on public procurement regarding telecommunications services and it’s attendant €200,000.00 threshold.
    Maybe it’s just me.

    1. Kath

      Thank you for the info re public procurement…do you happen to know if under the Freedom of Information Act we can we ask to see the tenders submitted? (serious question)

  2. Cian O'Sheehan

    Whoever was in charge of this got taken for a ride. 2.5 million? 1,700 images is a way to bulk out the job. The average person is only going to look at max 10 or 20, completely unnecessary. The site looks crap on smart phones too.

  3. Evenprime

    Absolute scum….tw@ts, idiots, fool, gobshites
    The amount of companies I know that could easily do this here…..I’m list for words but sharpening my pitchfirk

      1. John

        agree, there are loads of companies here capable of completing this job and even doing a better one.
        3 million of Tax payers money send abroad – so much for promoting Irish Talent and jobs.

  4. Splendido

    eh, what?

    Are you seriously telling me that with all of their talk of creating Irish jobs, they couldn’t find an Irish agency that could have done this?

    All the talk of “putting on the green jersey”, and you can’t even be bothered to do simple things to create actual Irish jobs?

    Government, you’re not even fucking trying, lads.

  5. lowercaseFman

    This is sickening. I’m truly depressed. What’s the point in even caring, if the people you are willing on to get the finger out are making these ludicrous, down right LUDICROUS decisions!
    Christ! You can do better Ireland. Stop being a f***ing assh*le!

  6. Pierce

    It really reminds me of a graphic designer’s flash portfolio from the early ’00s.

    I assume that €2.5m pays for a few rounds of user testing, and that it’s been proven on some level to be usable by different age groups with different goals, etc. But gosh, I find it a strange site. Very difficult to discern a hierarchy of information. I always get lost three clicks into it.

    1. Pierce

      Maybe I’m just out of touch. As someone who makes their living designing websites, this is a slightly worrying idea.

      I’d love to see someone do a proper critique of it.

    2. murphy

      Would love to know who signed off on that one. Shocking amount wasted on the site and to make matters worse the money went off-shore.

      That agency are laughing at us. Having only watches Anglo the musical last night, “the more things change the more they stay the same”

    3. DeSelby

      What a usability nightmare!

      Spotted typos, and when in the Dublin section, looking at St. Patricks Festival, I chose accommodation type “camping”. It brought me to a page containing camping from all over the country. So go to the Paddy’s Festival in Dublin and camp in Portrush… handy.

      It says in the IT article that it was made for tablets… why then when on the iPhone are sections off the page off the screen?? Surely an iPhone is a mini tablet?

      It is an unusable mess.

  7. Conski

    Why isnt any of it written in Irish?!?!?!?
    could easily have squeezed another mill for translations in there

  8. True Kilcockian

    Well worth it if it brings in only 50,000 additional tourists and they spend 2000 each while in Ireland that’s 100 million.

    If it brings in 1 million additional tourists and they spend 2000 each while in Ireland that’s 2 BILLION for us to give to the anglo bondholders.

  9. Mickarooney

    I echo the professional webdesigner’s comments,
    perhaps someone could do a proper analysis of it and breakdown the cost.
    Surely with all the plugs for the Radison and Aerlingus/Ryanair etc they should have made some cashback,

    1. Pierce

      One thing I would say is that photography, research and content (assuming there was a lot of all three commissioned), would constitute a large chunk of the cost of a site like this.

      1. Ellie

        I dunno how much there could be to do for content. FI already had information on accommodation, events, sites all over Ireland, and systems for keeping it up to date. Wouldn’t need to pay a third party for any of that.

      1. RoverK

        Translation isn’t that costly. We’ve had our site translated a few times and at most it comes in at about 20k for the full site. 20k in 3million is less than 1%.

  10. Melton_Carbury

    Half the ads are promoting Derry, which, assuming people would go, wouldn’t bring any money into the country…

  11. escobar

    Could have made a better website meself… and I don’t make websites; never have.
    Also, not one to judge a book by it’s cover (cough cough) but based on Leo Varakar’s stupid face I am gonna go out on a limb and say he’s is an idiot. Leo Varadkar.. Leo Varadkar, Leo Varadkar… say it a few times and it starts to lose all meaning.. that’s probably a good thing for him and his stupid face.. Leo f$%kin’ Varadkar.
    You know the movie Fight Club where they are discussing all the historical or famous figures they would like to fight? One of them says Hitler, one says william Shattner.. well I’d like to fight Leo Varadkar. I’m calling you out pal.

  12. 123456789

    Leaving aside the cost – €3m seems insane – the scandal of this is that it was awarded to a UK agency. They couldn’t find an Irish company to design and develop a website? Really?!

    There should be a concerted effort to keep these projects in the country. Plenty of Irish web companies out there are well capable of a site like this.

    Lazy, ignorant decision-making at the expense of Irish jobs. Govt. & semi-state bodies – wake up and start supporting your own!

  13. collie147

    Because of the money it had to go out to EU tenders, meaning it was open to any company in the EU to bid on. Hence why a UK company is doing it. The expense I can’t justify, but you’d be astonished at the price for a tailored website template design. It’s not as simple as drawing a window in dreamweaver, there is a lot more work into it, that said I make them myself for nothing, but some of the pro companies start at 50,000 just for the window format and colouring. It’s an insane market! There is probably a ton of APIs to tie in with other websites to show their ad or schedule of events and place that into ‘The Gathering’ theme template, and all in Flash too – that’s going to add to the price a huge amount.

    1. collie147

      Actually browsing through it, I’d say most of the money was spent on the design and the APIs to pull in other websites info. I’d say it was also written in flash and HTML5, making it more expensive and there is a ton of development needed on both, and it’s probably got support included in the price for the next 4 years, hosting (it sounds cheap but up the specs and requirements for the amount of simultaneous users and it goes up quite a bit)

      I’m not going to say it’s a bargain, it’s not, but that’s what you pay for that kind of development.

      1. Timmy

        Its not what you pay for that kind of development actually, it’s an order of magnitude off. 300k sounds more reasonable to me.

        1. Eoin

          2.5m is way to much indeed! They should have just hired a development team directly and built it in-house giving Irish people jobs and saving a fortune on the development at the same time.

          The site itself I find very badly designed in terms of user-friendliness. It doesnt work on phones, this is probably due to the fact that it was designed more for ipads.. any good developer would have made it work on all (or at least most) devices as standard. Using Flash is a bit, well, out dated in my opinions, there are plenty of ways to animate a website without the weight of flash, css5, jquery etc.. light on the site, nice on the screen!

          Ireland needs to wake up and start showing that it can support its own, giving this job to an overseas company is just wrong on so many levels.

      2. C Sharp

        It’s just reading and displaying content via API as far as I can see, no complex sorting or interaction (eg no ability to book a hotel or flight on the site that I can see).

        Childsplay for any half decent developer.
        But then Hugo & Cat seem to be ALOT more focused on design than on development:
        (a few TI projects in their portfolio)

        Very poor return for 3million imo.
        EU tender rules are as they are, but I seriously question the judgement here.

        All style (depending on your tastes), no substance.

      3. DJ

        There is no Flash, all animations are achieved using jQuery and HTML which should actually make it cheaper. As a professional web designer and developer I can safely say, there is no justification for this price other than a company milking a government cash cow. There’s nothing new about this, you would literally shit in your hat if you knew the prices behind some government websites.

  14. Timmy

    I know a but about pricing large web projects, and this seems ridiculously overpriced. I’s common knowledge in the industry though that you’ll get away with fleecing the government, and it can even be necessary to win the work (i.e. they prefer to pay more).

    1. DJ

      Absolutely true. The people that make the decisions of who to use don’t have a clue what they’re being tasked with, and they just go for the highest price because they assume they’ll get the best work, which is often not the case.

  15. Stephen

    Take a look at the concerts section, they are all in the North. Not being picky but surely if it is to be an all island initiative, they might have included even one concert in the South ?

  16. Rigosto is not even registered in Ireland.

    Tourism Ireland (TOURISMI59899)
    Beresford House
    2 Beresford Road
    Coleraine, Northern Ireland, BT52 1GE

    1. Eoin

      Have you noticed that concentrated most of its efforts on N.Ireland attractions, even though N.Ireland have there own (and better) tourism website.

  17. Miles O'Tool

    Probably a lot of work gone into the site but it looks very strange

    Menu bar on the right which is counter-intuitive unless they are targeting the Jewish visitor.

    The pages are so cluttered that it makes gerring information very difficult.

    I tried looking for a few things but just got fed up with the wankology flash and “clever” links. Navigation of the site is far too complicated.

    The whole thing has been over engineered to justify the extortionate amount paid for it. It would be great to see the analytics bounce rates to show how users are interacting with the site.

    A great opportunity missed!

    1. Cian

      Indeed. Most likely the commissioning and handling of the project was managed by someone who knows little about web design and was easily won over by the spiel given by the agency to jack up the price.

    2. Hans

      I couldn’t stop clicking on this green box with the arrow at the left hand side. Moves the content to the right and if you click again it moves the content to the left again.


  18. Disgusted

    That is disgusting, not just functionally but aesthetically too. Would have been better off setting up a flickr page with images, can’t even see half of them on this site.

    Also, just from clicking around aimlessly (navigation is a complete mess) a significant amount of errors occurred (ugly green boxes with the same link inside appear in a line)…

    Really hope the €3m thing is a joke

  19. Mike McHugh

    The thing I like best about it is the site search engine. It’s, well, astounding.

    Do a search for “Dublin pub”, and get 397 results, with the top one being Dublin Zoo, and the rest being conspicuously non-pubby. Do a search for “pub Dublin”, and get 175 results, with a definite pub-like vibe.

    “Dublin pubs” shows you lots of accommodation, 188 results, and a message asking if you meant “Dublin pub”. “pubs Dublin” gets you 203 results, with a lot of B&Bs.

    Of course, those 203 results might actually be 140, who can say? Both numbers appear. Oh, and on the search page, don’t press enter/return to kick off a new search: you’ve got to click on search. That’s probably what they mean by touch optimised.

    I think the HTML code sums it up best, when it says “Himenaeos. Etiam accumsan, dolor sed imperdiet suscipit.” Amen.

  20. escobar

    Based on the comments here it seems like we have an abundance of people in this country who know all the ins and outs of creating a quality, user-friendly website for a reasonable price.
    There’s a massive gap between the knowlwdge and ability of our citizens and how that ability and those skills are put to use by our government.
    If they insist on pi$$ing money up against the wall i.e. paying over the odds, then they could at least ensure the end result is the best website money can by.

  21. Mikier

    If you go to the top menu that says with an arrow pointing down, click on it, then go to ‘About Ireland’ you end up on a page with a big with thing in the middle that I assume a picture is meant to go?

    Terrible website and too many navigation options.

  22. Dee

    There’s also a massive irony in this Irish Times article. I agree it’s a rotten waste to have given that amount of money to a UK agency, and it shouldn’t have happened… but the Irish Times, our national daily newspaper of record (ahem), handed the contract for their OWN redesign last year to a Scottish agency.

    Double standards, much?

    1. DAN

      One’s a private company, no obligation to worry about Irish employment statistics or national budgets, the other is a state operation intended to bring money and employment into the country.
      No double standards there imo.

  23. Sendog

    2.5million and its not even responsive!

    the fastest growing market on the internet is mobile freindly sites.

    Ah for f**k sake! just looked at the source and there isnt even a robots.txt or even a f**king sitemap!!

  24. pans

    Has anyone done the math? Let’s say it takes five developers to design and implement – at 50k each. Support for four years, as someone above suggested, +1 for development, so that’s 1M for salaries. Where the hell would the other 1.5M go? Software licencing? Hosting? Project management?

      1. pans

        This is using maximum estimates to be able to come anywhere near the project price. You’re right, of course, and developers would be working on multiple projects at any given time. Also, only the development phase would require numerous resources – probably only one person would remain in a support role. So again, where the hell did they come up with that huge price tag??

  25. Sofia

    just seen the promotional video for the ring of Kerry on I am not Irish and I have been to Kerry quite a lot because I find it breathtaking. Best natural light ever. The video shows a grey, flat, uninteresting place. It would have put me off if I saw that first years ago and I would have missed Kerry’s beauty. Who produced that ad is clearly not very skilled. Could have waited for a sunnier day for many shots. You have to get it right if you want tourists. And who paid for and accepted the ad is just as bad. Such a shame.

  26. Prada Meinhof

    There’s only one thing worse than listening to the amateur hour UX analysis about it.

    Suddenly Ireland’s American import twitterati and breakfast roll eating celebs from the native Irish digitalati (translation: night courses in DIT and Digital Hub) become the world leaders in user experience expertise. Jakobs Biscuits O’Neilsen, etc.

    “Coulda done better, etc” Why didn’t you, so?

    1. DeSelby

      Hmmm…. Seeing as you put it that way, we take it all back. It’s a great site. Worth every penny. Works well. etc

      By any chance were you involved in the project?

Comments are closed.