Friday, July 08, 2005

Web portal lacks Web features

PennWell has launched a new Web "portal" -- pulling content from some of its B2B magazines into a single site that also sells equipment for the energy industry.
It's a move that perplexes me.
I didn't understand the portal concept back before VerticalNet collapsed. I didn't understand the concept any better when Primedia tried it with Industryclick. The word "portal" refers to an entrance, a gateway. But every Web portal I've ever seen is something else entirely -- a silo, a one-stop, an attempt to monopolize and localize a user.
Perhaps most disappointing about PennWell's new venture is that it is the latest B2B publisher to announce a new Web strategy that fails to take advantage of the Web.
Take a look at this story on the site, or this one or this. (And can someone tell me why every one of those stories has two date stamps in two different styles? Jul-07-2005, 7 July 2005, July 7. Doesn't anyone look at these things after they are posted? Can't anyone agree on what the style is on dates?)
None of the stories have links -- either internal or external. There's no feedback function, no interactivity, no graphics.
Why would anyone bother to build a site like this?
For a look at what a B2B magazine site can be, take a look at CMO. I like that site more every time I look at it.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I do work for OPIS, which also covers the petroleum industry. But PennWell and OPIS concentrate on very different areas of the business and are not direct competitors. Also, it's only fair to note that OPIS has subscription-based electronic products -- email, Web applications, etc. -- that share PennWell's lack of interactivity. I hope to change that.

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  1. AnonymousJuly 21, 2005

    Maybe before you write a blog on this you do a little research into what PennWell is doing. Most of what you say in this blog is incorrect.

  2. I'm afraid I don't understand your complaint. What did I say that you think is incorrect?
    I pointed to stories that don't have links...and then complained that they don't have links. I pointed to stories with multiple time stamps...and then complained that they have multiple time stamps. I pointed to stories that don't have graphics and feedback functions...and then complained that they don't have graphics or feedback functions.
    You complain that "most of what" I said was incorrect. Please be a little more specific. Perhaps point out a single specific thing that I said that was wrong. And perhaps you'd be willing to give your name rather than complain behind an anonymous post.

  3. I completely agree with Paul on the whole Portal issue. Pennwell along with other B2B's miss the point...Specialization. Web and Trade mag users want specifics not generaland not some"other" content.

    B2B's need to build or continue to build loyalty for their website users. But I preach to the choir.
    To be forthright,I was the first Web Media manager for Pennwell's Advanced technology division. I went on to work with Advanstar,until they drove their web business into the ground. I told anyone that would listen in the late 90's... YOU have to do this right it will be your new life blood. Do it wrong and you are going to damage your core business. Hate to say...I told you so. The sites my team and my company developed,broke even in year one. Why? Because I made sure content was deep and perfectly brought over from print.
    Users were happy and loyalty was rising. Users started depending on the web tools we developed.
    Sadly, greed drove both Pennwell and Advanstar, both drooling over Vertical Net's IPO. I read V-net's IPO and said at the time the emporer has no clothes. No one at wanted to hear any of it. I was viewed as "non-loyal" to the cause. They were right I was non loyal to seeing the advances we were making get flushed. I was non-loyal to seeing the companies core business get damaged.

    Greed will be the undoing of solid journalism. Trade journalism is a backbone of the industrialised world. All B2B company management needs to realize this.