Giving black Britain a voice

How Kofi Kusitor focused on content over form in designing a comprehensive Web site for black Britons

How Kofi Kusitor focused on content over form in designing a comprehensive Web site for black Britons

When Kofi Kusitor launched his Web design company, the Cursitor Group, in 1995, he had no plans to set up a Web site for black Britons, writes Isabel Choat. However, a gap in the market persuaded him to launch the UK's first Web site for Britain's black community, and since Black Britain Online went live in July 1998 it has become the major focus of the company.

"There was no credible Web site targeting the Afro-Caribbean market. There was also no daily news service for black people, as all black newspapers are weekly," says Kusitor.

The comprehensive site provides daily news, features, celebrity news, links to job sites and online shopping aimed at black people. The motto throughout the development was "keep it simple".

Kusitor used his HTML and Active Server Page (ASP) skills, but insists the most useful skill was his common sense. "It is no good having all the technical know-how if you don't apply it simply," he explains.

He looked at sites like Amazon.com and the Guardian site, both of which attract a lot of traffic without being flash or complicated. "We were faced with new developmental software and could have made it very whizzy, but we didn't want to go that way. We wanted it to be clean, clear and easily navigable. It was important to keep it simple and to concentrate on the content," he says.

The fact that Black Britain Online has received so many good reviews and is currently number six in the Emap Internet charts is testament to Kusitor's success in creating a site that is easy to use and crammed with information.

The site runs on NT and IIS servers using Active Server Page, Java and Javascript. Kusitor spent three months planning the site before taking on two people to help put his plans into action. The entire process from conception to launch took nine months.

In November last year the site was upgraded to make it more dynamic, allowing users, for example, to add their views automatically at the end of news stories. "The upgrade meant synchronising the databases for news and talk-back portals, while at the same time making sure they stood independently," says Kusitor.

This year Kusitor plans to focus on forming strategic partnerships following a deal with America Online whereby AOL features a Black Britain Online section in its new culture area.

Curriculum Vitae

Name: Kofi Kusitor

Age: 31

Qualifications: HND in IT, law degree at University of Greenwich, masters in business at London Guildhall Business School.

IT Skills: ASP, HTML, DHTML, Javascript

Favourite Hangout: Gallanga bar in Battersea

Kusitor on Kusitor: Hardworking, sharp, loyal

This was last published in January 2000

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