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Update on Zimbabwe’s Broken Sites: Still Broken

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Econet News Flash

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Last year we posted an article titled “Zimbabwe’s Broken Websites: Telecoms Operators”. The article basically pointed out some glaring omissions and commissions on the websites of some of the biggest telecom companies. Most of these errors can be corrected easily with a little effort and within a few minutes.

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We promised to do a follow-up article on the issues we noted, so here it is. It’s mostly still the same issues we talked about then and the sad thing about all this is that, for the ones we could reach, we even went to the extent of advising them. Nonetheless, for all you telecom companies, here’s some free website quality check, again.

Econet, www.econet.co.zw

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Econet, the big telecoms company that’s bringing the Internet to the masses (and should therefore know better) is failing miserably to make its site work.

Like last year, all pages (except the home page) have 2 tariffs links placed side by side. Both links are broken. The “Investor Relations” link on all pages (except the home page) is dead. Obviously, whoever updates the site just checks the home page and doesn’t care about the rest of the site.

Last year we pointed out that for some reason the network coverage map image was uploaded in BMP format. It was a whopping 916KB, a nightmare to open on a typical Zim Internet connection. Guess what? When Econet updated the coverage map, they replaced it with one double the size, it’s now a staggering 1.6MB.

Econet guy, here is how you can fix this: Open “ECONET_ZIM_COVERAGE_MAP_04022010.bmp” in any picture editing application. Click ‘Save As’ and change the file type to JPG. It’ll reduce to below 50kb. Yes, it’s that simple!

The ‘NewsFlash’ section on the home page doesn’t have any news flashes. It just has a “more” link. More of what?

Econet News Flash
A blank news flash section on the Econet site

 

Telecel, www.telecel.co.zw

Telecel took their website down in February this year. They probably decided to work on it and do a big bang launch. The person who closed the website door made one big mistake: he forgot that a website doesn’t have one entrance. Search engines are still generously directing traffic through the other doors to the site.

The “Business Opportunities”, “Network Coverage” and “Corporate Profile” pages are all still available through a search on Google. And because some sections of the site have been taken down, these available pages have some parts missing. The result: a very ugly page like the one below:

A Telecel page from a Google Search.

We told their marketing team about it when we found out a month or so ago. Maybe they’re all too busy growing the network to be bothered with this.

TelOne, www.telone.co.zw

The TelOne page has undergone some face lifting since we last reviewed it. It’s brighter and livelier. It’s loaded with information too! Issues from our last review have all been corrected.

Just one thing, the webmail link on the horizontal menu bar is broken. Maybe just taking it out until the mail system is ready.

The Webmail link on the TelOne site leads to this error page

ZOL, www.zol.co.zw

Like last year, ZOL’s mostly functional except for 2 small but annoying items that they won’t address. A ZOL Chat link that opens to a nasty database error and a ZOL Virus Center link that takes visitors to a Tucows page that has nothing to do with ZOL or viruses.

The ZOL Chat link on www.zol.co.zw opens this database error page

Another link, “ZOL Internet Units” (a remnant from those mad hyperinflationary times) remains on every page. The link just leads visitors back to the home page.

Hey ZOL, how about taking these 3 links out. Your site will be perfectly fine without them! We know your attention is on some more urgent issues right now, but when you’re done, please. UPDATE: They took the links out!

Telco Internet (www.telco.co.zw)

Here’s what we wrote about the Telco site last year:

The Intranet Log-in link gives a Joomla ‘site is temporarily unavailable” page. The poll “Do you think internet access at home is neccessary?” has been running since 07 August 2007. The ‘Latest Projects’ page hasn’t been updated since 07 August 2007. Why the webmaster chose to leave the Joomla ‘date’ and ‘author’ tags intact to tell this is baffling. More pages reveal this site was put online on 07 August 2007 and no one has been back to update it since.

Nothing has changed. Telco too is kinda busy right now.

When you’re done salvaging what’s left of your brand, some basic internet tasks like updating your site or just removing everything that says ‘we last updated it in 3 years ago’ will help with the battered image.

Africom, www.afri-com.com

Africom also hasn’t done anything to correct what is probably bothering any visitor to their site. If anything, the website has more errors than it had last year. They have been adding more news and leaving it all undated. Someone must have told them dates sellout a stale site. Well yes, but this too is just as bad. Blank pages are still abound.

The all-important contact us page, the page with the potential to convert a visitor into a customer, opens a blank page with the following words in small print “You are not authorised to view this resource. You need to login.” I need to login to contact you?

Except the homepage, every other page has the title “Products and Services”, including this news page. You don’t sell news now, do you Africom?

You are not authorised to view the 'contact us' page

NetOne, www.netone.co.zw

Zimbabwe’s once biggest (now smallest) mobile operator has a visually appealing website. But we’re not here to talk about that so let’s get to how broken it is. A link to the FAQ page opens an error page with “Access denied for user ‘root’@’localhost’ (using password: NO)”. A FAQ page is one of the most visited pages so we can imagine the frustration. The “Terms & Conditions” text at the footer of the page is not even a link. The “Privacy Policy/Disclaimer” too.

The FAQ links on the NetOne site lead to this error page

Ecoweb, www.ecoweb.co.zw

Though usually fast, the Ecoweb site is terribly slow today. So slow it gave us the Joomla unavailable page below. But we kept trying and eventually it opened. Still it was too slow to navigate around. Doesn’t speak well for company that does web hosting! We suspect it’s to do with some technical challenges they’ve been having recently.

The Ecoweb site today

Mweb www.mweb.co.zw

The Mweb website, well, just works.

A note:

This is by no means a complete list. No. We just randomly picked up a few. The cancer goes beyond just these listed here. We just pick on telecoms operators because, being the Internet providers, they should know better.  If you know any broken Zim site or you know one that just works, let us know in the comments section below.


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6 thoughts on “Update on Zimbabwe’s Broken Sites: Still Broken

  1. Dear Kabweza

    I just wanted to point out that the webmail link on the TelOne website is for internal use by our staff only. It only works on our local intranet. This link is not broken as you pointed out. If you take a look at it again you will notice that there is a warning indicating that you can proceed at your own risk. This is because our security certificate is not issued by one of their accredited certificate authority providers such as Verisign and it was issued for the top level domain telone.co.zw. Most browsers should allow you to add this exception and proceed to view the webmail facility. However, they will be unable to login.

    I hope this clears up the matter once and for all.

    Sincerely

    TelOne WebMaster

  2. @TelOneWebMaster,
    Thanks for the clarification. If the Webmail link is for internal use, maybe you should consider taking it off the public page. Or maybe just labeling it so.

  3. Any idea where I could register a .zw email for free or pay? I was using econet but its unreliable. I’m in the US right now but I’d like to have a .zw address where people can contact me instead of just using Gmail.

  4. if the domain of your email is very important for you we’d recommend just registering your own domain with any Zimbabwean ISP or webhosting company (We use Webdev) then using Google Apps to host the emails. You get a Gmail interface but you use your own domain. You will pay a yearly fee to the ISP for the domain but Google offers the customised email service for free. http://www.google.com/apps

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