Expert Eye: Women's interest websites

Someone asked me recently, with more than a hint of condescension, ‘Woman editor? At The Sun? So what does that mean? Pretty dresses and nail varnish?”

‘Well, yes”, came the reply. ‘Lots of frilly dresses and make up. But also everything else that women are interested in – which of course covers rather a lot.”

From Sienna Miller’s latest outfit, to campaigning against the size zero cult, and meeting brave women in Afghanistan, we cover it all.

There are, of course, many well-established women’s magazines and sections of newspapers, because women don’t necessarily want an agenda that is dominated by sport and glamour models. And now women’s websites are springing up faster than new Primark stores to carry this tradition on.

Two of the most recent launches are www.thelipster.com and www.whispermag.co.uk, which hope to rival other well-established websites including www.ivillage.co.uk and www.handbag.com. So, do they really have a chance of taking on the big girls?

The Lipster describes itself as ‘your popular culture broadsheet”, which seems more than a slight contradiction.

The layout is more like the hard-news websites of Reuters, or The New York Times, and yet the content is essentially gossip and music news. It seems to be dressing up the content into something more heavy and serious than it really is.

While some of the articles are well-written and thought provoking, the stark layout gives the impression of thin content – which would discourage readers from returning.

The attitude is fun though, and I’m sure many will enjoy the cheeky tone. Although celebrity-gossip-savvy consumers will quickly spot and be put off by the fact some of the stories are taken from other sites. But the main stumbling block for The Lipster is that it is currently on a two-week holiday.

The beauty of the web is the ability to access the latest information quickly, and the ‘five minutes ago’generation are unlikely to revisit a site that isn’t updated at the very least – daily. Then there is Whispermag.

First impressions were that it looked like a stylish ladette online mag – which makes sense as the two-woman team behind it, Liz Moores and Natalie Woodcock, met while working on Maxim International at Dennis Publishing.

Whispermag has a great look, with pictures and videos used big to maximise appeal. The layout is slick and yet easy to navigate.

The site is divided into a few sections which creates the impression of comprehensive content. And the chatty tone will appeal to modern girls who like football and festivals.

But there still isn’t any beauty or fitness, which always rate highly in women’s interests. And the fashion content, which consistently rates as the highest in women’s interests along with celebrity news, is very limited (one article on Agyness Deyn’s look).

While Whispermag has a great identity, I doubt that a weekly will work well online. Women want to log on every day to get their celebrity, fashion or music fix.

Compare both these newcomers to the well-established three: www.ivillage.co.uk, www.handbag.com and www.thesun.co.uk/woman.

All have numerous sub-sections with a bank of varied articles that are updated several times throughout the day.

Both The Lipster and Whispermag will gather more material in time, but unless they manage a much fresher content, I doubt they will ever rival the already established women’s websites. 

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