A blog in general about Romania and my feelings at the moment, with a focus on design, branding, art and anything else that inspires me.

Friday, March 25, 2005

The most e-ready cities in Romania

I told you that I would look over the sites of Romanian city halls and judge them on their "e-readiness". Well, I've looked at the site of every county capital, as well as Bucharest, in Romania, and have judged each site on: design, usability and content. Design was basically based on aesthetics and coding, usability was based on structure and organisation, while content was based on how comprehensive the site was, the depth of services it provided (e-taxes, etc) as well as whether there was an English language version or not.

After going through each site, I cut down the shortlist to nine cities out of 41:

Basically, all of the above sites are fairly good. I'm not saying they're excellent or anything, but they have reasonable sites which give you quite a lot of information in a relatively organised fashion.

Out of those sites, the only ones I found to be of a European-class standard are the following, which I felt were really good in comparison to everything else:

  • Oradea - not because it's my home city or anything, but Oradea has a really nice site that's comprehensive and gives a nice snapshot of the city as well as plenty of city hall services. The only problem I had with it was that it could be a bit better-organised, and the English and French language content is minimal.
  • Botoşani - a suprising site for a city that doesn't get much publicity. The site looks good and is one of the best structured sites for a city hall. It also has comprehensive information, but no version in English. That's the only problem I had with it.
  • Sibiu - really well structured, because it targets information to different groups of users, from tourists, to locals, to investors. There is also a lot of information here, especially in the field of tourism. And, best of all, there are comprehensive versions in English and German. Great for foreign investors and tourists. The only problem I have is with the design. Don't get me wrong, I like parts of the design, it's just that it doesn't have those finishing touches that distinguish a nice site.
  • Baia Mare - I included this in here because of the clean design and structure. Other than that, it's not a remarkable site, I just see nothing much wrong with it and I think that it serves its purpose really well. It would be good to see a version in English though, and a bit more flair.
Any surprises? Well, the fact that Bucharest's public administration has a terrible internet appearance I mentioned earlier. That's really disappointing, because to see small cities like Botoşani beating Bucharest is surprising. The other comment I have to make it that many of the large regional centres, like Iaşi, Cluj-Napoca and Braşov had fairly poor sites.

The other thing I must say is that though I've commended Oradea, Botoşani, Sibiu and Baia Mare, none of them are all that great sites. Which is pretty alarming. I mean, come on, not one major city in Romania has a site that meets all three criteria: a decent, clean design, good structure and comprehensive content, as well as an English language version. So, I looked around on other city sites, and I must say that the standard overall is pretty low. Not just in Romania, but even in countries like Finland, France, Spain, etc.The site I liked a lot though was that of Tartu, an Estonian city. There's a city that can really market itself to the world, even though most people haven't even heard of it.


Blogger Dragos Novac said...

Oslo ranks pretty high in my preferences. Also, I don't find that surprising Bucharest being left behind other cities since I know how the contracts for such things are awarded - I think you mentioned it aswell somewhere on your blog, it's nepotism.


Blogger romesperi said...

Well, nepotism would apply in other cities as well, wouldn't it? I'm just surprised that a city like Bucharest, one of the largest in Central and Eastern Europe, has such a poorly-organised web presence, not to mention poorly-designed.


Blogger Romerican said...

A very nice round up. I've forgotten how disappointed I used to be in Romanian city websites, because I stopped bothering to use many of them to gather information.

If a city had to choose only one alternative language to present itself in (say, budgetary limitations), then American English is the natural default choice as it currently enjoys the status of lingua franca. What irks me are all the folks who purport to have an English version of their website and they *totally* fork it up... to the Nth degree. It completely undermines their credibility and they either need to hire someone competent to write for them or ditch the "English" version altogether (to avoid embarrassment).

From your list, Sibiu leaped out at me as the front-runner! A very nice site with a fairly hip design and deep content. Beats the heck out of the national tourism websites.

In fact, the National Authority for Tourism doesn't offer English on it's own website... although it's actively seeking foreign investment. That's a good way to retard the accomplisment of your objectives.

Nice blog, I'll be back.


Blogger Romerican said...

Well, darnit, I just noticed I'm a year late. =P


Anonymous Saku Korhonen said...

Yup, your home town site was full of intresting and useful info. As the matter of fact, there was so much of it that I have to revisit it, and the others, later on. Looking forward to it, though.


Anonymous urdu said...

interesant postul



Post a Comment

<< Home