Rajesh Jain mentions the lack of innovation in the Indian portal scene in a post about IndiaWorld, supposedly India’s first portal (frankly, I hadn’t even heard of it). I think he has hit the nail on the head when he says, “we've stagnated in terms of innovation”. But innovation apart, right now I think they should concentrate on just giving the people who visit their site a good experience. Especially Indiatimes, one of India’s largest portals, which seems to me, is a page full of annoying flash ads with some news bits and details of its other services thrown in as an afterthought. But wait, Indiatimes has been extremely innovative when it comes to advertising. This slashdot post mentions that the hugely annoying ‘floaters’ are becoming more prevalent on the web these days. But, Indiatimes has had these from as long as I can remember. These ads that block the main site itself, with frame rates that put the latest computer games to shame, are so annoying that I’m sure not a single visitor would want them. Indiatimes is not the only offending site, Rediff, India’s other big portal is equally (in)considerate when it comes to their users. To be fair, Rediff is a tiny bit better. Blake Ross, one of the guys responsible for Firefox, captures the futility of such exercises perfectly in this post. I can understand that the portals need to make money and the users can’t expect an ad free site with good content. But, aren’t there other ways to achieve this, without annoying the hell out of the very people who turn to them for a variety of services (hint, hint).
Maybe it’s good news then, that Yahoo is planning to invest in Indiatimes. A change in culture is definitely in order. Or maybe not, considering that Yahoo is also irritating-flash-ad-happy on many of its sites. Maybe it is the similarity of their ideas in bugging their users that is bringing them together. To be honest, I really don’t care right now about all the brilliant technical innovations that these guys can come up with. If they do, great, but till then, give me a usable site that I want to come back to. Users on the net usually don’t have much say in how big portals like these work. But, we do have one more thing….choice. Google News beats them hollow when it comes to news aggregation, I no longer use their mail and I don’t shop online anyway. So, not even the semi-sleazy pictures will take me back to Indiatimes. The browser I use is good enough to fend off the worst that is thrown at me, but, that’s only till the next ‘innovation’ in advertising technology, so, I’d rather get used to something else.
Tags – indiatimes, rediff, portal, yahoo