Best New Websites From Internet (Weekly Update)

1. European Space Agency

ESA’s relaunched website is a world apart from what boldly went before. It now makes better use of screen space and focuses more on photos and videos which, considering the subject matter, provide plenty to be amazed by. The homepage now scrolls down further, introducing numerous sections of content such as the latest news, ESA’s shop and information about missions. It’s an impressive and sometimes dazzling voyage of discovery, with most items well organized within four categories. Articles are clearly written, searching is fast and the responsive design makes the site well suited to mobile devices too.

2. National Lottery

The National Lottery has finally updated its website with a fresh, colourful design that places a greater emphasis on the different games. The homepage highlights forthcoming lotteries and their headline jackpots, and content is clearer, with online ‘scratchcards’ now promoted under Instant Win Games rather than GameStore. As before, buying a ticket is straightforward and there’s a useful section on responsible gambling that provides a budget calculator. You can also view a millionaire map to see where people are striking it lucky and, while you still need to click to see the latest results, these are easier to access, making the overall site a real winner.

3. West Coast Travel Facts

If you’re planning a trip to the West Coast of the US, then check out this new travel guide created by the tourism boards of California, Washington and Oregon. It’s been developed in light of the wildfire season so potential visitors can consult a map for the current air quality and see the latest webcam footage. You can find details of the nearest visitors centre for information and check resources relevant to each state, such as a wildfire map and travel alerts. There are brief overviews of the delights that each state has to offer and links to relevant articles.

4. Bakerdays

Instead of cooking up a completely new site, Bakerdays’ new management – who took over following its recent closure -has largely reheated the old one. The result is still appetising, though there’s so much unnecessary explanatory homepage text that it falls short of being fulfilling. That said, it’s a simple site to navigate: the product categories are clear, photos are bold and fun, and it’s easy to personalise cakes with words and images. We like its occasion reminders, loyalty scheme and newsletter, and that it caters for food intolerances by letting you specify your preferences.

5. Microsoft Q&A

Created as a replacement for the TechNet and MSDN forums, Microsoft CAA lets visitors ask technical questions about the company’s products and services. You need a Microsoft account to sign in and post but, if you’re simply browsing for answers, you can click on the questions or the accompanying tags. Posts, tags and users can be followed for updates, and content can be bookmarked. As a nice touch, the site will also monitor any questions you type and suggest answers. Be aware that it’s aimed primarily at business users so you won’t find answers to specific consumer niggles.

6. Black Cultural Archives

In celebration of Black History Month, Google Arts & Culture has worked with the Black Cultural Archives to tell more than 30 stories and showcase a staggering 4,000 artworks, artefacts and images, some rendered in Gigapixel resolution. The presentation is typical of other Arts & Culture projects, with a single scrolling page highlighting a mass of material – in this case, exploring themes such as the evolution of Black British dance and how the Black community became empowered in the 1970s and 80s. It’s a huge body of work brimming with fascinating content.

7. The MagPi

Since the Raspberry Pi computer launched less than eight years ago, it has sold more than 20 million units and gained lots of fans. Many are readers of the official magazine, The MagPi, which can be downloaded for free here. This has now been made easier, thanks to a more prominent link at the top of the screen, but the designers have also played around with the rest of the site’s layout so that the articles it posts online (some of them specially written for the web) are better highlighted, too. With back issues available for online reading and plenty of reviews and tutorials, it’s an impressive Pi-focused resource.

8. Letcombe Brook

As well as inviting visitors to learn more about its efforts to conserve a rare Oxfordshire habitat, Letcombe Brook shows the value of creating a well thought out community website. The site’s large photos of the rare 12-kilometre chalk stream and details of the local wildlife provide an attractive environment for communicating the group’s aims. There’s an interesting history, a look at specific projects and information about reporting incidents along with a comprehensive FAQ. There are also clear explanations of how you can get involved and make donations. The blog needs more work, however.

9. Apple Privacy

In the ongoing effort by tech companies to convince us that they take our privacy seriously, Apple has updated its section on data protection and controls. Now adopting a dark-modish look, it explores apps such as Safari, Maps, Photos, Messages, Siri and Apple Pay, and covers devices, too. There’s plenty of detail, especially in the many white papers covering Location Services, Face ID and more, which are randomly scattered around the Features and Control sections. Finding government request reports is easier: intriguingly, the UK asked for customer data on 1,109 occasions between July and December 2018.

10. Freeview

As the choice of TV viewing expands, a decent online TV guide is sure to get a great reception. As such, Freeview’s revamped site is worth tuning into, with its choice of three layouts – horizontal, vertical and channel specific – and a new Watch Now feature for programmes aired by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5. Available shows are highlighted at the top of the screen but you have to clumsily click the left and right arrows to see them all. They also play on the relevant TV player rather than via the Freeview site. Even so, it’s an improvement. The site also lets you check Freeview’s current status and see planned outages, works and available channels.

11. Box Office Mojo

When Box Office Mojo launched in 1999, it became a hit with movie lovers, thanks to its invaluable tracking of film revenue and exclusive news. Part of IMDb since 2008, this is the first time it’s been rebooted but, like many Hollywood remakes, the redesign has proved controversial. While it does a fine job of presenting the latest box-office figures, much of the info has been hidden behind a paywall. including historical data on studios and genre breakdowns. Some angry users are seeking to build an alternative version in response.

12. Bargain Foods

Set up by two former market traders, Bargain Foods has only been online for a few weeks but discount-hungry customers are already devouring its wares in droves. The site offers sizeable savings on a range of groceries, drinks, health items, pet food and household goods. But while its physical shops in the West Midlands are basic, the web store includes recommendations and promotions to whet the appetite. Some of the food items are past or near their best-by date – some are dated 2018! – yet adding them to the cart and checking out is easy, although free shipping is only for baskets over £100.

13. The Totally Football Show

Presented by journalist James Richardson (the chap who used to front Channel 4’s Football Italia in the 1990s), The Totally Football Show is a popular podcast that has spawned several spin-offs. This new site lets you listen to each instalment via stream or download, and packs in scores of in-depth features, most of which are related to the podcasts in some way. Like the podcasts themselves, the website has a professional sheen, highlighting the weekly show schedule and letting you stay updated by signing up to the newsletter. Simply click Select Show to see what’s on offer. There’s even a show called Golazzo that should bring back some memories.

14. Google Ngram Viewer

Ever wondered when a particular word or phrase was first used, became common parlance or dropped out of fashion? Then head to Google’s fascinating Ngram Viewer, which lets you search for terms in printed sources dating back to 1500, and plots the rise and fall of their usage on a line graph. The site’s database draws on more than five million books published up to 2008, and lets you view the matches it finds by clicking through to Google Books. You can also use Ngram Viewer to compare the popularity of several words or phrases over the centuries by typing them into its search box, separated by commas. It even lets you embed its charts on other sites.

15. Everipedia

Wikipedia is one of the wonders of the web, but it’s not without its flaws, not least it’s boring design, officious moderators and narrow definitions of credible sources. Everipedia is an alternative online encyclopedia that builds on Wikipedia’s content to allow anyone to add articles on any topic they wish (provided they have at least one citation), which makes its content much more varied. Whereas Wikipedia is controlled by a relatively small team, Everipedia uses blockchain technology to foster a more democratic community and rewards its contributors with ‘IQ tokens’ which they can use to vote on new articles and edits. It also looks more modern than Wikipedia, with a slicker design and layout.