Study of Polish Women's Web Portals

Article excerpt

Introduction

The Internet has grown to be the largest medium of communication in the modern world. Online communication, both in business and non-business settings, creates favorable conditions for development of diverse online communities (Boyd &Ellison, 2007; Geidner et al., 2007). based on shared interests, desires, expectations, ideas, and so on. A good illustration of this trend is the formation of women's communities, as a manifestation of the gender factor in online activities. Many research studies (e.g. Boyd &Ellison, 2007; Malachowski, 2005; Mendes et al., 2004) confirm that, in relation to the overall population of Internet users, women's online communities display certain specificity, in respect to the range of interests and content preferences as well as functions and practical use of online resources. Below, a fundamental range of themes in Polish women's web portals presented, accompanied by the evaluation of content structure as reported by female expert Internet users. A large part of the paper involves the identification of women's preferences (expectations) in regard to content offered by web portals addressed to women.

Women's Web Community Portals

There has been a marked growth of Polish community services offered on the Internet in the recent years. The largest online community, nasza-klasa.pl (despite only 2 years of operation!) has managed to attract more than a half of Polish Internet users. Table 1 shows an overview of the most popular community portals in Poland.

It is worth noting that out of the ten most frequently visited Polish web portals listed above, only top four reach more than one million hits per month, and as such may be consider popular. The last four portals on the list have visits, on average, less than 30 times per month per user, i.e. less than once a day. Moreover, Table 1 does not reflect the gender. Statistics of Polish Internet users by gender and age group is shown in Figure 1.

As shown in Figure 1, Polish women are a marked majority of Internet users in the age group of 15-34 (30.5% : 24.5%). In this group, the number of female Internet users is higher by 1/4 compared to men. This trend is also distinct in the extended age bracket of 15-44 (37.2% : 32.4%, respectively). Female population in this range is nearly {(37.2 : 32.4) x 100%} 15% larger than that of men.

Thus, in the most active age bracket (education, work, family), Polish women constitute a marked majority of Internet users. Moreover, as shown in readily available reports on the subject, Polish women on average are more educated (secondary, bachelor's or master's) than their male counterparts. Obviously, web content providers and portal administrators should consider these remarks.

In this respect, it may be interesting to examine the actual content offered on web portals addressed to Polish women.

As shown in the ranking of portals reporting the highest share of women in the overall user structure (Table 2), interests of Polish women are wide and varied.

It is surprising to find the only foreign portal on the list score highest. The Canadian portal www.elouai.com hosts applets that help design dolls, emoticons and icons used in e-mails and on websites. Other portals on the list represent product websites (cosmetics, sanitary pads, toys, etc.) and women's magazines. A job portal (No. 8: szybkopraca.pl) and a fortune-telling portal with horoscopes and dream interpretations (No 10: sennik.org.pl) also scored high on popularity among women.

In the structure of Internet preferences, as demonstrated by PBI/Gemius research study ("Badanie Megapanel", 2006), the most popular women's topics include lifestyle, web communities, education, tourism and employment. Women also take interest in portals addressed to feminine population, with content such as fashion and beauty, childcare, housekeeping. Typical sections of women's portals follow similar pattern of health, beauty, culture, makeup, fashion, home, children, erotica, diets, wedding and cuisine. …