(By Bhavya Arora and Nikhil Pahwa)
India.com, the flagship portal of the Mail.com-Zee Group joint venture has finally launched, as an email service (for those who want an @india.com email address), and an aggregation of its content verticals:
- Sports: CricketCountry.com
- Bollywood: BollywoodLife.com
- Education: IndiaColleges.com
- Auto: OnCars.in
- Tech: BGR.in
- Views and opinion: IndiaWrites.com
- Video content: Video.india.com
In addition, given that the Zee Group is involved, the site also features news from Zee News’s website.
- Languages: All the verticals, apart from BollywoodLife.com are available in Hindi on launch; strangely enough, Zee News doesn’t have a corresponding Hindi website. In case of the Tamil content, all the segments are hosted with India.com, and none of the verticals have Tamil versions, as of today
- Design: The website design of India.com is minimalist and understated, to the point of making the site look underdone. There’s a design inconsistency across India.com verticals – some, like OnCars.in, BollywoodLife.com and BGR.in look remarkably different from India.com, IndiaWrites, CricketCountry and Indiacolleges.com. Pardon the sad, perhaps-politically-incorrect-joke, but like it is said that there are two India’s (India and Bharat), it appears that there are two India.com’s, from a design perspective.
From an advertising perspective, it appears that India.com has got Bisleri as a sponsor. Remember that India.com can expect to get a lot of organic SEO traffic, by virtue of its domain name, and the fact users from India might search with ‘India’ as a term in their search queries.
We’ve written about the other sites in the past – Bollywoodlife.com is the latest to be launched by the JV, apart from India.com; it’s the latest in a cluster of Bollywood celebrity gossip web sites on the Internet, essentially branding itself as readers’ “Celebrity News Gossip & Style BFF”. Compared to some of the already existing bollywood and celebrity gossip portals like bollywoodhott.com, thedailyhoney.com and gossipbollywood.com, the site surely is a visual upgrade from the usual blog post format seen so far; there’s Yahoo India OMG as well. Bollywoodlife does come close to the tabloid image it seems to be aiming to project to stand out in the crowd.
The content however is no different from all the information that is already available online. The site also has a section dedicated to news and gossip from the South film industry as well as the telly world, the latter however is a little hard to find on the site owing its inexplicable placement. That apart, there are some interesting sections like Style, Most Popular, Top Stories, Bolly B Says, Style Cue, Celeb Interview but essentially there is content overlap and repetition through the site, which leaves the reader frustrated and may result in a drop in repeat visits on the site.
A few additions that may help Bollywoodlife.com carve a niche for itself in this segment:
- The inclusion of more exclusive pictures and gossip stories not available on the other sites.
- The content could do will a little more personality, like in case of The Daily Honey, rather than just bland reporting.
- They could even include polls and contents and dole out signed merchandise, film designerwear or memorabilia to readers.
- An exclusive section on yesteryears films would be interesting.
A few things on the overall site experience:
- The menu bar needs more prominence on the site since one tends to click on the india.com main menu bar on top.
- ‘From the Movies’ sections needs visual consistency. The review section can be easily missed!
- Once you click the HollywoodLife tab, there is no tab to come back to the main site Bollywoodlife.com.
The site does not appear in any of the google searches for Bollywood celebrity news or gossip; early days.