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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Qatar Tribune Online - How Does it Rate?

The Qatar Tribune has finally launched its website:

The Tribune's front page.
The website, while not exactly cutting edge design, is more attractive than either the Gulf Times or the Peninsula. The Gulf Times' unattractive new design looks a mess on Firefox, while the Peninsula seems stuck in the 90's, and also has problems with Firefox.

The Gulf Times front page.Web Standards

The website looks clean. Unfortunately, it is breaking current web standards. (So does Qatar Visitor, actually - we'll be addressing those in our redesign next year!)

For example, the pictures have no alternative text - meaning search engines can not identify the pictures and that the image will confuse text browers.

Headlines for the Web

Will the papers writers and editors make any compensations to the web? As This Boring Headline is Written for Google explains, writing headlines for readers and for writers are too different things.

Above, for example, we have written Qatar Tribune Online - How Does it Rate? rather than How Does The New Qatar Tribune Website Rate? The most important keywords - Qatar and Tribune - are placed at the beginning of the headline to make it easy for Google to identify the topic.

Early headlines are not great: Five Steps to N-free World is not going to make it easy for search engines to identify the topic. Nuclear Free World in Five Steps would have been better!

Writing for the Web

Web users are in a hurry. It is also harder to take in information from the screen than from papers.

That's why web paragraphs are short.

The long, paragraph free blocks of text on the front page do not bode well for today's impatient web reader.


Navigation could be better. I would say that both the Gulf Times and The Peninsula, with their sidebar navigation menus, have a superior navigation.

There are too few stories on the front page, and too much information for each story. It is easier to click through to a story than it is to turn a page - and harder to flick through a website looking for things of interest.

And there is no search box - many internet users are still not aware of the site search function on Google, and so will not be able to find what they want.


The Tribune is a new company in a declining industry trying to make headway against more established papers. This was an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage against two newspapers which haven't got great websites.

What the Peninsula and The Gulf times have got, however, is an established presence and thousands of backlinks. With a poor navigation system, The Tribune will struggle to compete.

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