HKTA site catches up

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 October, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 October, 1998, 12:00am

The Hong Kong Tourist Association's relaunch of its popular Web site is drawing more than eight hits a month. Its redesign promises to be easier to navigate for visitors and easier to maintain for HKTA officials.

Wonder Net has provided information via the Web to would-be visitors to Hong Kong worldwide since its launch in November 1995. It was at its busiest during the handover last year, when it got one million hits in just three days.

But with Web design and technology moving so fast, the HKTA re-evaluated the performance of its Web site. It did not like what it saw.

'It was leading edge in 1995, but was getting a bit old by last year,' Hermann Ruegg, the HKTA's Web-master, said.

Not only was the site design harder to navigate than other similar Web sites, but the 2,000 page site was difficult to keep up to date.

Many pages need to be updated daily - a labour-intensive process. Meanwhile, the HKT also publishes information via paper brochures, via public kiosks and via CD-ROMs, all of which need to be separately updated.

The HKTA basically 'threw away the old site', according to Mr. Ruegg in relaunching Wonder Net in May this year. The new HKT site draws from a central database of information that is shared by other media. That means, for example, the kiosks are hooked via leased line into the HKTA database. They display Web pages that are exactly as the ones seen on the Web site.

'Someone still has to do the updating, but it's easier now,' he said, adding that would help the HKTA avoid blunders such as promoting events already past.

'We don't want to have Lai See come after us any more,' he said, grinning.

The new Web site is also easier to navigate - meaning fewer pages to download before reaching the section the user really wants - and also fully searchable from any section. The HKTA is also planning a total of 10 customised home pages in different languages for foreign visitors.

'If your IP address is in France, you'll see the French home page,' he said.