Thursday, August 21, 2008

Review of Beta

Some common points :

Speed: Speed of the new site is not improved, it decreased the performance 'a little' compared to the old site.

Availability: No problem accessing it anytime. 100 marks.

Technology: As it widely uses HTMLs it has better performance than its peer websites. Though some of the modules are developed using PHP like registration.

Usability: Its highly user friendly site. Though I noticed few issues which are mentioned below.

Homepage: I liked the homepage very much, specially unique presentation of all supplements on homepage.

Errors: I have not found any errors so far.

Fonts: Its a real great improvement of the new GS site, as its now using UTF-8 font family. Now all main Gujarati news paper's websites are in UTF-8. It would be easy to bloggers to copy paste content and readers will not have to download any fonts with new browsers.

Few points which I noticed while testing -

- Arrangement of advertisements 'was and is' a problem, have not been sorted out yet.

- Spacing between two lines is very short, making the overall content congested.

- Now reader will come to know in which supplement the article was published, a good change. Though author name is still missing. This helps a lot to readers as many times readers read authors than articles!

- User registration is half-developed module, or at least seems so. You can enter fake email address to register. You can user others email address as well. A major security concern. Messages like “Username must contain an alphabet and a number” are displayed in junk characters. May be programmer intend to display messages in Gujarati.

- Though there is a message that click on Forgot Password link if you don’t remember your password, there is no such link available yet.

- Though there is no link or intention to help users who forgot their username.

- Search news is very good function provided in this site.

- Facility to dig an article and bookmark them through various third party sites is a good feature.

- Free RSS feeding is also a very good feature provided by GS.

- PHP is not a technology purely meant for media websites.

- Though most uses of html gives an edge to make the site’s performance better.

- Rather than having links with full article names, it would be better to display upto 20 or 25 characters and then “…” or to display short version of the title or column name.

- On the bottom of each page, Last Modification date is mentioned on the site. Either this date is incorrect or its code modification date, which is of no use to readers.

- Displaying all Supplements on the home page is a great idea. Also, design to display them is good.

- Displaying hits will help to see how many has read this page.

- Some of the English words are directly used in Gujarati , which may not fit to a news paper like GS. E.g. modification, result etc

- Site works fine in Firefox as well.

- Next and Previous articles links are eating one or two lines, seems not required. Also, these links has least relevance here as rarely people will read all news by using these links. People normally read title first before reading news/story/article.

- Related News on right side is a very good and mandatory feature for media sites. Though, on GS its not based on current news. E.g. if reader is on the page of Ahmedabad Bomb, related news should be related to the topic. This is missing and makes least-sense to the great feature.

- Overall design of the pages is good but many white-spaces here and there on the page reduces the effect of the good design.

- Time pass section should have “Shabad Chorus” as well. GS had a very good page on their site few months back to fill the Shabad Chorus online, is missing now a days, and it should be up with the new design.

- Articles should be centrally aligned to make them better looking. E.g. Indian Express. Unfortunately they are left aligned in GS and Divya Bhaskar.

In Summary, we are promised to get UTF-8 fonts in new site of GS and many other new features. At the same time, all these features have meaning only when they perform as expected. In my short analysis and testing of the site, I foresee the beta version of GS to take few months before it goes to production or we might undergo beta2 before final release!

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