The Economist is a name that is synonymous with the world of financial news. The familiar red logo with white writing is there to see when you arrive on the home page of this website, and there is plenty more to get stuck into as well as you make your way through the various sections and features that the site has to offer.
No matter what you need to know on a financial matter or which headlines interest you the most, www.economist.com is the place to go to find what you need.
If you have ever seen the publication which spawned this website, you will know that the site stays true to its roots, and doesn’t flinch away from the stories and views that everyone wants to know about.
Starting with the home page
The feeling you get as soon as you see the home page is one of efficiency and a matter of fact stance that really enhances all of the content. The menu is clearly displayed on the left hand side of the page and as you run your mouse over it you will see the pages within that section appear for you to take a look at. It is then up to you whether you want to see the main page of that part of the site or go directly to the bit you want.
The main news headlines are featured front and center as they should be, with a picture section at the top of the page which goes through four main world headlines in turn.
Below this there is a box which gives you a flavor of the various columns that are included on the site and you can click through to this section to read more if you wish. Similarly there is a column which gives you a taster of the Economist’s blogs; you’ll also notice a small RSS feeds symbol at the bottom of this that enables you to select which feeds you want to subscribe to. We’ll go into this part in a little more depth in a moment.
The link which says ‘about Economist.com’ is worth clicking on since it tells you a little more about the website, what it is about and also gives you direct links to various areas of the site. It can be a good place to start if this is your first time on the site.
You will also see a picture not far above this which leads you into the audio and video section of the site. News stories which are presented in several ways are becoming the norm online now; it’s not just a case of reading a news story anymore – you can also listen to it and watch it as well. This adds a new depth to the website and indicates right from the start that there are a number of ways to use www.economist.com – not to mention the fact that there is a handy link to the print edition at the top of the page.
Overall this is a strong home page which takes its strength from a good design, taking some of the elements that are familiar from its print edition and carrying them through to the website to ensure it is immediately branded and recognizable. This is an outstanding start – and there is also plenty more to come.
What sections are there to explore?
Let’s start with the RSS feeds page here, which can be reached from any part of any page that has the familiar orange feed symbol on it, or the digital delivery section of the main menu.
There are plenty of different options to choose from here, including banking, economics and finance, as well as more general feeds including daily news items. You can also subscribe to feeds for the blogs included on the site.
There is an outstanding finance and economics section which is well worth a look, featuring a wide range of reports on this topic, every one of which goes into some depth and invites you to comment at the end of it. You will also see a section featuring the cream of the crop from previous editions for you to glance back through. If you want recent news and interesting stories as well as current ones, then this site is definitely the one to favor.
One thing you will notice in this section (as you will also notice in many others) is that the stories and features do not favor any single country or region of the world. Everyone gets a look in, and it certainly helps you to get a good view of what is going on in the entire financial world at the moment.
There is also a segment devoted to markets and data, which while being broken up into several smaller sections can also be viewed on an initial overview type of page. This gives you an ‘at a glance’ feel for what is going on, and also provides some good links to other areas and tools of interest.
The page itself has a quick tool for getting the exchange rates between currencies. Clicking to get the result takes you into the currencies page and gives you all the information you need to be relevant to the Forex market. You will also then get access to a more comprehensive converter that you can use to work out the bid and ask rates.
Another part of this section shows you the basic exchange rates between the most popular currencies both now and as they were a year ago (a feature that isn’t often used and which makes eye opening reading) and also every page in this section has a box on the right hand side featuring the latest news headlines in the currency stakes.
The business section is also worth a look through, because although not every story weighs heavily on the financial side of things, it still has a role to play and you can find out many of the pertinent facts behind recent news stories and events.
Don’t miss the opinions feature either, since it features in depth reports and points of view on many topics currently of interest to most people around the world. Even on occasions where the topic is unique to a certain country, the stance taken is usually one which takes into account how that issue will affect us on a wider scale.
The strength of the writing and the content on www.economist.com stands as one of the most powerful parts of this website. Its matter of fact style and the simple truth behind all of the articles, opinions and news stories works extremely well and you immediately feel at home while reading through all the content provided.
The site also makes it easy to choose the way you want to receive the information, such as the audio and video section, the RSS feeds which cover virtually every major area of interest, and also the option to receive newsletters via email to ensure you don’t miss out on anything worthwhile.
But although you may choose to take advantage of one or two of these additional services – or maybe even become a subscriber – you won’t want to miss out on a regular visit to the site itself.
How user friendly is the website?
The simple design helps this website to become one of the easiest ones to navigate in its field. Aside from this there are also a great many touches that add to the user friendly feel, not least the research tools section that is mentioned in the next section.
But at the bottom right hand corner of every page you will find a link to the help section, which mirrors the rest of the site in that it is very easy to use. This is broken down into several segments to make finding the answer to any query you may have much easier. This is quite comprehensive and should answer all the main queries.
However you will also notice that this page has a large contacts section on the top right hand side, and it is here you should go to if you need to contact the site about any other matter. You will find a list of relevant areas of interest, and if you click on the one you need you will see a list of instructions on how to proceed, together with the appropriate details of how to get in touch.
This is a website which clearly wants to minimize the number of issues you may experience while using it, but provides every ounce of help necessary should you run into problems.
What is the single best feature?
Slightly further down the menu in the section with the gray colored background, you will see a link to research tools, and it is this part of the site that gets our thumbs up this time around.
At the top of this section there is a search facility which is somewhat more in depth than a lot of other basic ones you tend to see on sites like this one. There is a huge archive to trawl through and you will no doubt find plenty of material to get stuck into.
But there is far more to this section than a search facility. The ‘articles by subject’ section enables you to locate stories on specific topics, countries or cities, simply by scrolling through the list and clicking on the entry that matches your needs. When you do this you will see a list of all the articles and news stories on the site that are related to that topic, along with the section they appear in. All you need to do then is click on the title to see the story in full.
The economics A to Z may also come in handy if you need to check the meaning of a term, and it is certainly useful to have close by if you are relatively new to this topic area and need to confirm the meaning of words and phrases as you find out more about the topic.
The special reports section is also linked to from the research tools part of the site, and along with a forthcoming list of release dates for new reports you can access current and past reports as well. The reports themselves are very long and comprehensive, and provide a great insight into the topic chosen.
There is also a style guide included for your use should you want to take a look, but all in all the research tools part of the site is not something you ordinarily find on many other websites, and certainly not in the depth that this one appears in.
The Economist is well known as a print publication and its internet presence is just as impressive. No matter what area of finance or money you have an interest in you can be sure that www.economist.com covers it in some way. You also have the option to subscribe to the site to receive access to premium features that casual surfers and other users cannot see. Once you familiarize yourself with how the site works and what is included you may decide to do this.
The existence of features like the audio and video library among others marks this site out as one of the best of its kind, and it is reassuring to know that we will continue to see it for long into the future. Each section has plenty to offer – a look at the markets and data section alone proves that.So if you need any information on financial topics, you would be wise to make www.economist.com your first stop.