– First impressions


Don’t know quite what to make of the recently launched site.

The portal has Wijeya Newspapers backing it and is prominently featured on the websites of the group’s newspapers, such as the Daily Mirror. It was Sunanda Deshapriya who first alerted me to the existence of this new portal and having taken some time out (including registering myself) to check out the website, thought it was a good idea, terribly implemented.

On the one hand, kudos to Wijeya for promoting a new media culture amongst journalists and citizens in Sri Lanka – even if, for the moment, the portal only operates in English (thereby alienating the majority of journalists and citizens who are only conversant in Sinhala and Tamil). On the other hand, everything from the design of the portal to the standard of English in it is deplorable.

For instance, the home page for each user is called frmUserMissionControl on the title bar of the browser and inexplicably called Mission Control. The tag line of the site is also confusing – what on earth does “Freedom of the Day” supposed to mean? The web-pages use tired, 90’s looking design elements – this is as far removed from contemporary website design and functionality as you can imagine. There are annoying tickers that read “Still you have not Updated your Profile” (sic). The spelling is, as noted earlier, horrendous – photoes, Membes, freind, My Mall – are just some of the tragi-comic mistakes that litter this site.

The file uploads for multimedia have a stern warning in red “Note: If you upload Porn, your account will be deleted.” Video uploads in particular are a joke – I can’t think of a single reason why anyone would upload a video to this site when faced with the potential of mature, user friendly and powerful websites such as YouTube and Google Video.

If the system is accurate however, as of today, there were 1,808 users – which is significant and rather inexplicable – given how poor this website is overall. It’s perhaps on account of the sheer marketing / brand / economic power of the Wijeya Group that they can promote this website amongst journalists and other citizens. There seem to be some serious blogs at a embryonic stage, rudimentary email features and a raft of other features that seem to have just been added in to populate the home-page with pretty icons, since there is really no uniform look and feel to the website, or way through which information can be exchanged between its many faces.

If nothing else, this website shows that a home grown online community portal can be built even in light of sophisticated social networking websites such as Flickr, YouTube or MySpace.

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