The NEW and IMPROVED ILQ Website is ready – How did I get there?

I’m super excited. This has been a project I’ve been working on for ages.

First let me explain where we came from. ILQ was a site that started out as a quick and general guide where I gave people insight as to life in Qatar. It started off pretty simple and as people appreciated hearing about Qatar from a Qatari, the platform grew. I wanted to create a site that people could  have input on. So when some people asked me to create a forum. A forum was created. When people asked for an events section. An events section was created. When people said they didn’t like how many links there were, we created a better menu structure. What had happened in quite a short period of time is that more and more people relied on the content that the site had. We grew exponentially. To cater to demand, I ended up having to literally piece different scripts together. Actually, the old ILQ was a mix of THREE different sites designed to be linked together. Honestly, I’d go as far as to say that in the back end, it was a Frankenstein of a site. It became really difficult to try and migrate to a new CMS because there wasn’t really anything that could handle what we wanted to do. Even more problematic was that we had so much content, it was hard to shift everything over without losing anything.

So then came the challenge from you all. I asked people what they wanted; a site that was faster, less sections, more organized, simple to use, and even easier to share. How do we create a brand new site and achieve all that? Honestly? We went through THREE developers to try and achieve what I had envisioned. I wanted a site looked clean, a mobile version (coming soon by the way), all the old links to still work, and to have a simple back end as well. I was so frustrated with some of the designs that were sent over by different companies, that I ended up putting designs and layouts together myself (self taught photoshopper here!).  The task wasn’t easy. In fact the first development company had to ditch the project because it was too much to handle! However I’m glad to say we found a great development and design team that understood exactly what I was looking for and they are amazing! (Shout out to Oliver and Daria!).

What made things super difficult was the fact that we never released focused on making money. Whatever profit I did get out of ILQ, I used to support charitable causes and the community. It was also hard getting funding and I resorted to spending what I had saved. At one point I had tried getting a loan from the bank but sadly it was hard selling a digital start up here in Qatar. Banks wanted to loan you funds for capital. Physical assets. We’re a digital company. I remember speaking to an incubation panel at one point and I was told “you need to decide, are you a business or a charity” (that was because I didn’t want to focus on money only and focus on the community). It was a turning point for me because I stood my ground and said “why can’t I do both? Why can’t I create a great business AND help others?”. I wanted to bridge the gap between expats and locals, create a resource where the community could share great content, and become a website that could people live (and enjoy) life in Qatar. So that’s where we are today!

The site is by no means perfect, there’s still a lot to do, I’m sure we’ll encounter issues and scramble to fix stuff, but we’ll get there. We’ll get to the point where everyone can be proud of what we’ve achieved. (That’s why I need all your feedback! Thread here: http://iloveqatar.net/forum/content/new-ilq-feedback)

So without further adieu, I now present to you some before and after shots of the site 😀 Blood, sweat and tears went into it, so inshallah you like it!

Homepage

Before:

 

After:

 

 

Events

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After:

 

Restaurants

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After:

 

 

There’s load more sections to check out! So please visit www.iloveqatar.net 🙂

Freedom of Expression

    Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which the Qatari Government is a signatory of states: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any medias and regardless of any frontiers.

    The Emiri Decision Number 86 of the year 2007 on the establishment of the Doha Free Information Centre marked yet another step towards establishing a State of rights and freedom of speech. The decision stipulated that the Centre be a non-profit organization, headquartered in Doha City, and have the authority to establish other affiliated centres inside and outside Qatar. It is worth mentioning that His Highness the Emir issued a decision in 1998 annulling the ministry of information, giving birth to a new era of freedom of speech where censorship was removed from local media.