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Which S Asian leader has best website?

By Alastair Lawson
BBC News

Nepal's Prime Minister Prachanda has formally launched a new website that contains forthcoming engagements, policy announcements and Maoist party news.

How does Prachanda's site compare with those of other South Asian leaders in terms of layout and design?

The BBC asked Keith Black, senior web consultant of Turboweb Limited - a UK-based company which designs websites around the world for politicians and businesses - to give his assessment.

NEPAL PRIME MINISTER
Nepalese PM's website
Interesting use of colour, although a bit bold, we thought. Still a few unfinished elements too which can make a site look a little unprofessional. The English language tab at the top doesn't seem to function yet and there is no contact form or noticeable contact details either. Nice use of light boxes in the gallery section though.

Overall score: five out of 10

PAKISTAN PRESIDENT
Pakistani president's website
Slightly dated design and seemingly most of the site still under construction - clear navigation though on the left hand side. News section is kept fairly up-to-date. But again no visible method of contact through the site.

Overall score: four out of 10

AFGHAN PRESIDENT

Afghan president's website
Very user-friendly, good contact details and helpful clickable links. But in-depth contact details of Afghan embassies around the world suggest the site may be more geared to an international or expatriate audience. Frequent use of American spelling suggests site may well have been developed with US help. Overall score: Five out of 10

BANGLADESHI PRIME MINISTER

Bangladesh prime minister's website
Better-looking site with easy-to-use navigation, nice colourful header without being to bold. We noticed a useful search facility and this site also has contact address and e-mail details too.

Overall score: Seven out of 10

SRI LANKAN PRESIDENT

Sri Lankan president's website
A little bit of flash used in the header and some scrolling text to draw your attention work reasonably well in this very visual layout. The text displays a "best wishes for the new year" message which is arguably confusing for people not familiar with Sinhalese culture. Lots of images and fairly easy to use navigation.

Overall score: Six out 10

INDIAN PRIME MINISTER

Indian prime minister's website
Fairly slow to load - seems to be built in "slices" - the "best viewed in IE 5 or above" message gives away its age so this can be forgiven. This site offers user-friendly navigation, site search and contact numbers. Not bad for an older site but surely Indian technicians - renowned for being some of the brightest in the world - can do better than this?

Overall score: Six out of 10

MALDIVES PRESIDENT

Website of the Maldives president
Reasonably good looking site that is kept well up-to-date, a good amount of relevant information including job vacancies and downloadable maps, even recent speeches are available although there is no noticeable sign of a contact form, e-mail or phone numbers.

Overall score: Seven out 10

BHUTANESE GOVERNMENT

Bhutanese government website
Good-looking site with an interesting colour scheme that works quite well on the main page. Interesting that neither the king nor the prime minister appear to have an individual site. Nevertheless, the government site holds lots of useful information and even has some children's games on it, but some of the navigation is not as prominent as it could be and we also spotted a couple of slight errors on the form downloads pages, where there are hundreds of useful forms.

Overall score: Seven out of 10

CONCLUDING COMMENTS FROM KEITH BLACK

It's interesting that given the technological know-how in South Asia in general and in India in particular, all of these sites - although impressive - are not nearly as good as they could be. Nearly all of them do not utilise modern day browsers, resulting in large chunks of empty space - and none of them seem to contain video. This might be because politicians in the area have yet to realise the importance of the internet as a way of communicating with their people. At the moment I would say all these site are two to three years behind Europe and the US, but bearing in mind how fast the region is developing that is unlikely to remain the case for long.

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