1. Health for Kids
According to the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health, there is no reliable evidence linking time spent onscreen with obesity and depression in kids. Just as well, because this colourful and engaging website encourages children aged four to 11 to learn more about ways to stay healthy by interacting with its many resources. Starring a host of friendly characters exploring topics such as dental care, hand-washing, blood tests, food and mental health and illnesses, and with games and quizzes to try, it’s hugely approachable and beautifully presented. Just the tonic for young health-conscious minds.
2. Rotten Tomatoes
Are we awarding a fresh tomato or a green splat to the film and TV review-aggregation site? Sure, it’s just missed top billing this fortnight but this revamp feels like a step in the right direction. Following 18 months of tweaks – changing identity from green to red, rejigging its Tomatometer criteria and adding original content -Rotten Tomatoes has at last tackled ‘review bombing’ (where trolls try to lower audience ratings). Now, only critics’ reviews can be seen before films are officially released, and the Want To See score has been dropped to stop it being manipulated. Add to this some decluttering of the pages and the site is feeling much riper.
With the tagline, “you are the judge”, this solicitor-comparison site helps you find a trusted lawyer. It currently lists more than 15,000 registered UK solicitors and carries close to 17,000 reviews – just enter a name or location in the newly streamlined search engine and select the legal service you require. From there, you can see clearly presented results accompanied by star ratings, then read the reviews, respond or add your own. We like the greater prominence given to asking a solicitor a free question, and the advice section and FAQ, but the blog needs more regular updates.
4. Monty Bojangles
It’s not quite Willy Wonka in its appearance but there’s a magical quality to this new site from chocolate brand Monty Bojangles. Drawing on the brand’s eccentricity, it mixes parallax effects and animations with an innovative shopping basket – a trunk that fills with up to 100 truffles as you drag and drop the chocs that take your fancy. You can’t enlarge the boxes for a closer look but you can instantly see the ingredients they contain. When you’re done, you can buy your trunk and add a personal message before waiting for your delicious delivery.
5. Food Standards Agency
Checking the food-hygiene ratings of eateries helps you avoid an upset stomach but the FSA is doing more than merely posting scores on the doors. Its new service lets you report food issues by choosing a category – from suspected food poisoning and poor hygiene to crime and contamination – then naming the business along with details of the problem. Each step is clearly laid out and navigation is a breeze. The one downside is the product-labelling section, which makes you click through two pages but merely directs you to Trading Standards.
How do you lower the cost of a premium car? If you’re Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla, you shut all your showrooms and move the entire operation online. It’s a bold move, which relies on potential customers being happy to browse this site. Thankfully it’s motoring along well, with exhilarating on-the-road videos, a wealth of stats, info about Tesla’s electric range and a glimpse of its safety features. However, orders require an immediate £1,000 reservation payment, which may deter many would-be purchasers, particularly as there is no indication of when your car may arrive.
7. Bike Libraries
One obstacle to encouraging kids to get on their bikes is that they may not have a bicycle to ride in the first place. Recognizing this as a problem, Bike Libraries has been launched to lend donated bicycles across Yorkshire and, while this site explains the concept and keeps you updated with the latest news, its main role is helping you find the various locations of the many libraries and donation stations. These are plotted on a zoomable map and listed down the left-hand side of the screen. However, the site will need a better search facility should the number of bike locations rise considerably.
8. Game Dragons
The Oliver Twins – creators of the classic Dizzy series of games – were recently named the most prolific 8-bit video-game developers by Guinness World Records, with 26 commercial releases, and have now set themselves up as consultants for the industry. But despite potential clients being able to find out more about their services on this site, we wish there was more info about their games. For that, you have to head to olivertwins.com, while consoling yourself here with an introductory video and the beginnings of a blog. That said, Games Dragons is primarily aimed at businesses, so perhaps we’re not playing fair
9. Investigative Journal
This investigative-news site aims to counteract fake reports with hard-hitting, impressively thorough articles that explore important subjects such as journalistic silencing in Pakistan, kidnappings and terrorist support -all beautifully written. Available to read on the site itself or as PDF downloads in the style of an academic journal, the reports are accompanied by insightful content and reviews from respected broadcast journalists. Clicking Confidential Leaks leads to a page encouraging whistleblowers to get in touch, and you can also add comments and engage on social media.
Having already rebranded in an effort to engage with a young generation of golfers, GolfMagic has a new website design to provide easier navigation. To that end, it offers a news slider and an enhanced mobile experience, together with improved navigation for videos and a good use of drop-down menus. But while it’s packed with content, the desktop site still feels a little under par: huge wallpaper adverts dominate the pages and squeeze the content, while tiny boxes filled with pictures and headlines fail to make a bold enough impact. Even so, it’s certainly worth swinging by since its wide selection of news, reviews and tips is top quality, down to a tee.
11. Met Office
When the Met Office decided to update its site, it may have forecast a nationwide tsunami of negativity and for that reason released a beta version last October to iron out any trouble. It hasn’t worked, though -the gales of criticism have raged, with some justification, mainly about the terrible pixelated maps and snow-related articles during February’s mini-heatwave. Still, it certainly looks better, with breaking news, a prominent search engine, interesting articles (why is the sky blue?) and detailed five-day and long-range forecasts.
12. Beauty Bay
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder but there’s no denying this site is a stunner. The split homepage with the shop to the left and articles to the right allows each to be scrolled independently and offers lots of cross-referencing. While the images rolling down each side are beautifully shot, they’re also very large which makes discovering items and content a slow process. Thankfully, the menu lets you filter content by product and brand, while displaying a tips section called Wanna Learn More. Content is also being posted to the social-media channels of ‘influencers’, which we imagine is very on trend’.
13. Snowdon Live
Wales’ highest mountain, Snowdon, offers stunning views – so long as the weather is on your side. Conditions up high can be treacherous, putting pressure on Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team, which is why this new weather-checking website has been created. It serves the latest readings from the weather station at the summit, clearly displaying the info to show wind speed, temperature, sunset and forecast. There’s also a box that lets you know if the trains are running and whether the café is open. The readings can be embedded in your own website and there’s a handy link to walking advice from AdventureSmart Wales.
14. Office of National Statistics
It might not sound particularly thrilling, but as a hard factual summary of the state of the nation, the Office of National Statistics website is an invaluable and illuminating resource. Its figures are frequently quoted in news stories, but by browsing the detailed reports and graphs you can get to grips with the bigger picture, and you don’t need to register or pay to access any of the content. Discover the likelihood of being a victim of crime in England and Wales, the average weekly wage, the number of people who use streaming services and much, much more, with all the statistics presented in a clear, easy to understand manner. Scottish statistic seekers should check out statistics.gov.scot.
15. Quora Spaces
The sprawling question-and-answer site Quora is now easier to browse following the introduction last year of Spaces. This new feature consists of curated collections and communities based around shared interests and tastes, which makes discussions a lot more focused and posted content more relevant. Popular Spaces cover topics including space exploration, The Beatles, cybersecurity, Tolkien and “mortality moments – reflecting and reminiscing about experiences all of us face growing older”. You can follow a Space to have new posts appear in your Quora feed, and apply to create your own.