Enterprises are launching “corporate portals,” gateway sites that act as an entryway to both a company’s Web presence and its intranet. In this column, Web consultant Kelly McKnight gives his opinion on a corporate portal, highlighting strengths and weaknesses that may translate to your company’s Web presence. The following index provides an objective look at the site’s features.
Kelly’s thoughts on the NFL Web site
I must admit, I’ve lost interest in professional football over the last couple of years. The strike started my apathy, and it kept growing with the predictability of the sport. To me, it just seems there aren’t that many upsets.

Of course, being a die-hard Bengal’s fan just might have something to do with it. They had the worst won-lost record in the ‘90s.

My first impression of the NFL site is a touchdown. With the team logos prominent, the site is colorful and has an air of excitement—kind of like pennants at a stadium.

Like the Major League Baseball site , the active screen does not scale when you enlarge the screen on your monitor. I understand why they do this: It’s easier to control the layout, and some people prefer the narrow, news-type columns. That’s fine, but I still prefer wider columns.

The amount and type of information available on the site was incredible. The news-type stories were well written, and the coverage was top-notch. But often, while the facts were there, the writing was heavy on the public relations-slant. Every player was “super talented” and every team “really helped itself.” I noticed a vast improvement when they used information from Pro Football Weekly.

I enjoyed the weekly poll and found the subject timely. The chat area was also well-designed and easy to use.

Now, let’s talk about the factors that didn’t bowl me over. The site is slow to navigate, plus the online store approach needs to be tackled all over again.

I don’t like having to go to a different window to get to the store. There are some great deals on merchandise, but the order format is not well thought out. For example, I was interested in buying a team helmet that was displayed in a cool see-through display. I wanted to buy both, but the disclaimer said, “To order case, use product #wdmh-1.” How do I order? Where do I order? Give me a break!

There was no link and no obvious place to do a product search. It really drives me crazy when e-commerce sites do this! They make you want to buy and then won’t let you. Give the NFL a 15-yard penalty for “holding up a transaction.”

Kelly’s verdict
Overall, I’d give the site high scores in information delivery and failing grades in e-commerce. It’s kind of like having a running back with great speed, but no ability to catch the ball.

Hey, I understand it’s hard to drive traffic to a site in the off-season when fan interest is low. But on the Internet, there are no seasons.

Kelly McKnight is a principal of Via Internet Studio , a consulting firm that specializes in corporate Web site design, Internet marketing, and e-commerce.

Now it’s your turn to review the NFL Web site. Just click on the Rate this Site! button, and you can help separate the good from the bad from the ugly. It only takes a minute or two to complete your rating, so don’t waste any more time—rate this site now! For Kelly’s rating, scroll below.