Sunday, February 26, 2006

Connecting to Mexico

Type of website: Magazine-style travel and culture guide
Excellent source of...: Cultural information about all parts of Mexico has got to be one of the earliest websites all about Mexico. Its been around as long as I can remember. As such, it is a rich and deep site with vast amounts of information. Unfortunately for the casual web surfer, much of the information is now behind the Subscriber wall, an attempt on the part of the website's owner to gain some compensation for all the hard work that has been put into it. They only want $30 for a year, which seems reasonable if you are going to be reading it often. And in all fairness, the website creator deserves some compensation for the work of making the website and keeping it current.

But since the website is peppered with Google ads, I'm sure they are making some good money. And the constant badgering to sign up is a little bit annoying. The website is showing its age, as it seems to have been tweaked and messed with a few times too many. Old articles haven't been updated with the new look. Or the next one either. Now margins don't line up, colors don't match and the entire thing looks like someone's poor relative. On the About Us page, they say there are ten main areas of information on the website, and then they list 8. They claim there are seven areas of service. They list 6 of them. The areas of service are supposedly only for subscribers, and yet buying your books through Amazon, because they are an affiliate, is one of their services. This doesn't make any sense, and the lack of attention to detail or cohesive design bothers me, and for me detracts from the valuable content of the website.

But I digress. The most important thing about this website is the depth and breadth of information about traveling to, living in and appreciating Mexico. Topics on the website range from Visa and Entry Requirements to How to Buy Real Estate to Mexican Food Recipes. There is a section on Mexican Artists and one on Mexican writers. There's even four decent articles on bullfighting. The only catch is that each article is only half there...the other half is available to subscribers. There are forums about Living, Working and Retiring in Mexico, as well as a separate forum for each section of Mexico...but the forums are only available to subscribers.

The articles (they claim to have more than 12,000 articles) seem to be written by folks who live in Mexico or at least have a strong understanding and appreciation of the Mexican culture. Many of them are recent and the site is updated consistently. There is a monthly magazine structure to the index page, where the month's articles by eleven different columnists are listed on the index page, but the free website only lets you read partial articles. To read the whole thing, you guessed it, you have to be a subscriber.

I must admit, I'm not a subscriber. I have an issue with a website that asks me for subscription money AND clutters up my screen with ads TOO. One or the other is okay with me. And if I'm going to actually pay to read this website, I expect a website that is well designed and easy to navigate. Mexconnect is neither.

But that's me. I live in Mexico already and I'm a web designer. In an alternate reality, I'm a fifty-something retired dentist in Des Moines and I'm considering moving to Mexico to enjoy my retirement. My alternate self wouldn't hesitate to sign up for a year of reading the wealth of content in


BillieS said...

This is a good start on collecting Mexican blogs. I live in San Miguel de Allende and have been collecting some blogs about Mexico too.

Anonymous said...

Good comments. But, I do not agree with most of them. People sure have a lot of time on their hands.

Carl Franz said...

that is the best review of MexConnect I've ever read, including the ones I've written myself. Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

The subscription version of MexicoConnect is much, much better than the free version. Ads do not appear on the subscribed version.