Penang insights

PENANG Insights, the brainchild of Asiatel Sdn Bhd, was built in 1996 to generate hits and draw visitors to its web community, says graphic designer Chin Mun Woh.

Asiatel chose Penang because "the managers here are typically diehard Penangites who love their homeland and are willing to promote it using their own resources," says Chin, who designed the site with his partner Adrian Cheah.

"As the popularity of the site grew, Asiatel decided it needed an update and revamp, and gave us the job.

"Our initial solution was to boost content and embellish the site," he says, adding that additional content was sourced from a variety of books and magazines.

So what began as a 20-page website snowballed to 75 pages. The site was re-launched last October.

To differentiate the site from the typical tourist brochure regurgitated on the Net, Chin and Cheah decided to inject humour into the content.

"The humourous part was easy -- we took the quirky qualities of the typical Penangite: rebellious, kedekut (stingy), their horrendous driving skills, fierce pride in their home state, etc, and played on that.

"By using the people of Penang as `comic relief,' we've actually managed to enhance the site, making it more `Penang'," says Chin.

To interact with visitors, provocative e-mail feedback to Why Penang is Best and Why Penang Sucks was included in the site. And to complement these, happy visitors can e-mail to I want to Praise and disgusted ones can e-mail to I Want to Complain.

The revamped site is a hit, clocking between 120,000 to 140,000 hits a month. It was also picked as a "Destination of The Month" in Microsoft's Expedia travel site.

Currently, the site does not generate income for Asiatel but plans are in the pipeline to make it self-sustaining by inviting corporate sponsorship.


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