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Consumers' Institute Expands & Relaunches Website

Consumers' Institute Expands And Relaunches Website

Consumers' Institute has completely revamped its website to give visitors access to all Consumer tests and other articles from Consumer magazine over the past two years.

New Zealand consumers can now tap into a vast resource of information at Content ranges from tests of a wide variety of household appliances and reviews of financial services providers to tips on how to determine a fair price for tradespeople and updates on new technology.

Extensive information is given on consumer rights, as well as listings of product recalls and reports on scams. Visitors to the site can subscribe to a free email service including site updates, product recalls and newsbytes (the facts behind news stories).

Redevelopment of the site has been a huge undertaking. Andrew Leggott, Consumers' Institute Online Development Manager, worked with Infinity Solutions to develop a site that could handle the complexities of Consumers' publishing process and content, yet be simple for the user.

"The site was built with the end user in mind. Most of our users access the site from home using dial-up connections, so we've tried to keep page download speeds to a minimum" says Mr Leggott. Additional finding aids include the sitemap and A-Z index of tests and reports.

Ease of navigation and searching were other important considerations, as most users will visit the site to find specific information quickly, says Mr Leggott.

Interactive elements, such as PowerSwitch which finds you the cheapest power provider for your household, have been developed to deliver answers tailored to users' particular circumstances. This is an area Consumers' Institute is keen to expand further, Mr Leggott says.

The team faced the challenge of managing content as it was developed for both the website and Consumer magazine. An XML solution from Infinity Solutions was chosen as the most efficient and flexible way of managing content through the publishing process. Archival material dating back two years was converted into XML for the relaunch of the website.

The only truly independent consumer voice in New Zealand, Consumers' Institute has been steering people away from lemons for over 40 years.

Chief Executive David Russell says the website will empower New Zealand consumers. "Our mission has always been to get consumers a fairer deal. We see the new website as an incredibly important tool for doing this. Now consumers can make a simple, quick check online before making a major purchase or decision. Our counterparts overseas have had a huge response to their web offerings and we expect a similar response to

The website is complementary to the well-established Consumer magazine. It is easy to search and provides consumers with access to current articles and a huge archive of past material, as well as interactive services such as PowerSwitch. The magazine, however, will still be essential reading, due to its readability, convenience and compact overview of current issues" says David Russell.

Free trial during September

Visitors to the site during September can register for one month's free trial, which gives free access to content such as product tests which are normally charged for. You can then become an online subscriber or use the site and pay only for the information you want, while some regular features like Legal Rights, PowerSwitch and Consumer BankCheck remain free. Subscribers to Consumer magazine can add an online subscription for only an additional $2 per month.


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