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Dateline: 11 May 2000 Early Edition
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The Battle For The Local Market
The NZ Herald this week announced the launch of its MyTown site -- an offering which clearly seeks to provide locally targeted news and other information.

They join an already surprisingly large and still growing list of regional sites focusing on Auckland and other major metropolitan centers.

Perhaps MyTown's key competition are Telecom's AucklandLive and the excellent Out And About sites.

The Out and About site is unpretentious and doesn't try to be all things to all people -- it focuses quite nicely on a subset of information that might be relevant to Aucklanders or those planning a visit to the city.

MyTown and AucklandLive however are a little less focused.

MyTown is a fine site -- from a technical perspective. Its design is nice and clean, the page loads fairly quickly and it's easy to navigate. The only thing that stops it getting higher marks is that clearly they never bothered to get an independent site audit before going live (mind you, they're in good company on this!) For example -- look at what Auckland's weather is going to be like today.

But -- what does it offer that I can't already get from the NZ Herald site itself?

Why would I bother going to the Auckland version of MyTown when I can get all that's there, and more, from the NZ Herald's main site?

Maybe they're going to expand it with more information although there's little sign of that.

Sorry guys -- nice site, nice idea, but putting a new skin on existing info doesn't really grab me.

New Registry Site
Yes, the new Domainz registry site is up and running -- but not without criticism from some parts of the industry.

Already there have been changes to the site based on complaints -- most specifically the fact that if a vistor wanted to register a domain they'd searched for, they were referred to a long list of "registrars." No problems -- except a that many of those "registrars" were simply other domain name holders who are not engaged in the business of registering domains.

Following the fix, users are now invited to simply contact their current ISP for help.

The site itself is, in my "humble, backward thinking opinion," sadly lacking attention to detail.

Even the silliest school-boy web designer knows that images should always have WIDTH and HEIGHT tags and, when they're part of a menu, it's good sense to include meaningful ALT text or a text-menu alternative.

If you live in the dark ages like me and tend to run for much of your surfing session with graphics turned off (because of the congestion on international links that won't be eased until the Southern Cross cable is commissioned), or if you use a text-based browser then the all new singing and dancing Domainz site looks like this.

Okay, I know most people surf with their graphics on -- but what would it have hurt to thrown in the ALT tags or a small text menu? Maybe five minutes of extra work? Bloody cheapskates!

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