Volume 44 Number 12
Website of the Month: Reading the Web at a Genius Level -- A Middle East Site Features Water
In this space, we’ve dedicated entire columns to water portals around the globe. Two prior reviews, for instance, covered portals from China and India. So, cognizant of this, we felt it was time to visit another portal -- this one from the United Arab Emirates. It makes sense. Who knows more about the importance of water than habitants of a desert oasis where the mercury consistently rises above 100°F? I live in Tucson, Ariz., so trust me on this. Aside from the camels (not to mention oil reserves), I am right there with these people.
Portals, generally, are broadly based websites such as Yahoo.com, About.com or any main website used as a homepage or stepping-off point for more specific topics. By definition, water portals are a tricky proposition in that they may call any country home but are judged solely by how well they cover the whole spectrum of water quality and quantity issues around the world. This month’s challenge falls to WaterGenius. A tall order, but the first two aforementioned websites were up to the task.
An IQ for water
Right off the bat, I see that the whole home page can be printed on one sheet of paper. Before you think this automatically makes this site incomplete, keep in mind that the best sites have minimal text on their home page but extensive main buttons that open the site to various, informative and, most importantly, relevant avenues. At WaterGenius, it’s a matter of what buttons one considers the main ones. I’ve decided that the 12 buttons near the middle of the home page qualify based on placement and extent of description. We’ll begin the review there.
They are Bottled Water, Commercial & Industrial, Domestic, Engineering & Constituencies, Instruments & Lab Equipment, Resins, Cartridges, Computer Services, Effluent Treatment, Filtration Chemicals, Molding Equipment and Safety Equipment. Under Bottled Water, there are two sub-categories -- equipment manufacturers and bottling companies. To my amazement, there are 350 (not a typo) pages of company listings under Bottled Water. Each page contains 10 listings; quick math tells us that 3,500 links are provided. Granted, many are repetitive but this winds up being a classic case of overkill.
To this point, we’ve concentrated solely on company listings. We’ll now move back up the home page and the site’s search function. Visitors are able to search using “news” or “links” and then the key word of your choice. I type in “links” and “mold” and 60 companies touting their mold removal capabilities are at my disposable. In contrast, the “news” feature only produced three listings and each involved an expo from June. Not exactly newswire heaven.
Below the search function, a “Browse” heading allows you to visit areas such as “New Links,” “Hot Links,” “Cool Links,” “News Center,” “ Suggest Listing” and “Search.” Checking “News Center” gives access to headlines back to March 2002. I presume this is about when the site was launched. The “Suggest Listing” gives companies the opportunity to post their business information for free. “Search” is just a repeat of the function at the home page’s top.
Water takes back seat
Next, to the far right of the home page, you’re invited to join the site’s mailing list. Unlike other sites, all that’s required is an email address. If only all things were so easy. Further down, a “Power Search” function allows for a more specific search using key word, country name, WaterGenius or the entire Internet, with a choice among manufacturers, dealers, wholesalers, retailers or all. At random I select, in order, arsenic, Kazakhstan, all the Web, and all listings. I get a response via a link to the European Business Association of Kazakhstan. Curious still, I click on it and, surprise, get the association’s website that says it was “formed to represent and promote the viewpoint of European businesses in Kazakhstan, through a strong collective voice.” Hmmm, this is kind of vague and doesn’t really stress the water component much. Finally, at the very bottom of Water Genius’ home page, a “contact us” link is provided where you can email the site with comments or questions.
Site Synopsis: www.watergenius.com