Bangladesh embassies, consulates, high commissions, permanent missions in different countries and international organizations represent Bangladesh and its people. These missions are controlled by Bangladesh Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). According to MOFA’s website, a total of 65 embassies, consulates, high commissions, deputy high commissions, permanent missions are stationed in 51 countries. (List below. However, this list may not be updated!) All these foreign missions have physical location (buildings, offices) and many have online presence (websites). Through their physical and virtual locations these foreign offices provide various kinds of services to people.
This article, in general, will review the state and effectiveness of the websites of Bangladesh embassies and consulates. It will touch upon the language, social engagement, quality of information, management related issues. At the end, it will attempt to provide some suggestions.
At present, there are 48 embassies, consulates, high commissions, deputy high commissions, permanent missions of Bangladesh government can be found online (Sources: MOFA website and internet search). A gallery of screenshots of Bangladesh Embassies and Consulates can be found here.
Due to lack of information regarding the website policy of Bangladesh Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), this article has to rely on WYSIWYG method to write about the conditions of websites.
To start with, apart from the James Bond 007, Mr Daniel Craig’s visit to Bangladesh Deputy High commission in Kolkata, online presence of Bangladesh foreign missions are not admirable. Many missions have no web presence. Those who have are plugged with difficulties – dead links, no links, outdated information, slow speed, hacked domain, expired domain, disorganized information structure, no public engagement, security concern are few to mention. Following are some more prominent problems:
Naming Principles of Bangladesh Embassies and Consulates
Nomenclature? Bangladesh embassies and consulates have adopted various kinds of name for different missions. For example, bdembassy, bangladeshembassy, bangladoot, bangladesh, bdembassyuae, cgbdubai etc.
Moreover, sometimes when a domain name was expired or hacked, simply another name was taken and a website was lunched. For example:
Bangladesh High Commission in India, New Delhi
www.bhcdelhi.org >> www.bdhcdelhi.org
Consulate General of Bangladesh in LA, USA
www.bdcgla.org >> www.bangladeshconsulatela.com
Embassy of Bangladesh in Japan
www.bdembjp.com >> www.bdembassy.jp
Deputy High Commission of Bangladesh in Kolkata, India
www.bdhckolkata.org >> www.bdhc-kolkata.org
Permanent Mission of Bangladesh in Geneva, Switzerland
www.bangladeshmissiongeneva.ch >> www.bangladeshembassy.ch
Domain Policy of Bangladesh Embassies and Consulates
Acquiring and implementing a systematic, well-organized, appropriate top-level domain (TLD) policy is vital to any website. At the government level, it is also a question of public trust, national security and standardization. Bangladesh Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not secured and implemented any consistent domain name plan for its foreign mission websites.
It seems like Bangladesh MOFA uses any and every top-level domain names available for their missions abroad. Here are some samples of top-level domain names in use for MOFA foreign missions today:
|Name (Entity)||Name (Entity)|
All websites of Bangladesh embassies and consulates are in English. None of them has Bangla language support except Bangladesh Embassy in Nepal. Other missions sometime post government circulars, notices, press releases, directives, etc. in Bangla. However, they are all in jpeg or pdf format.
Considering its international importance, English is a right choice. However, considering Bangla language is a big issue in Bangladesh and possibly most of the visitors are of Bangladeshi origin (an unscientific assumption!), and it is a national language of Bangladesh, all websites could have been supported with Bangla language. And if possible, all websites can provide local language support as well. For example, Bangladesh Embassy in Japan can be in Japanese language, beside English and Bangla.
Ironically, Bangladesh MOFA website is completely in English but they have attempted Bangla language support!
Social media, like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ etc. are powerful tools to connect and stay in touch with clients or fans of any service organizations. Almost no Bangladesh embassies and consulates have social media connections except Kenya (Facebook) and Nepal (Facebook, Twitter, Google+). Interestingly, Bangladesh Embassy in Kuwait has no website but only Facebook page!
Information and Website Structure
All MOFA websites have serious consistency problem in regard to information and website structure.
The information provided in various websites of Bangladeshi missions abroad are widely varied. Basic information about Bangladesh, economy, culture, tradition are not uniform. In some instances, they are missing.
Like information, website structures are widely differs, confusing and has no harmony. Let’s take one example – contact is one of most important link/menu at the navigational structure of any website. One can see a wild ride of the link, here are few example:
- Bangladesh Embassy in Sweden and Turkey: ‘Contact Us‘ on top right horizontal level. Good.
- Bangladesh Embassy in UAE: ‘Contact Us‘ is on the footer only!!
- Bangladesh Embassy in Saudi Arabia: there is no ‘Contact Us‘. If they have, it is HARD to find.
- Bangladesh Embassy in Sri Lanka: ‘Contact Us’ is not on navigation menu, just pasted at the front page. Easy to lost.
Website structures can be different but all must pass usability test and be user-friendly. Navigation does not have to be same or even similar, but it must be intuitive in nature. ‘Keep looking until you find’ policy is not a great idea.
Control and Management
Who controls Bangladesh embassy and consulate websites? According to MOFA website, Kuwait, Lebanon, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Qatar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand have no websites. However, they have websites and can be found online. Is Bangladesh MOFA in control of these websites? or Is this simply a lack of update issue?
There is no information about Bangladesh Consulate in Milan, Italy on MOFA website. However, one website of Consulate Milan was found online! The website works and seems legitimate but question remains why there is no information about this consulate on MOFA website?
If these websites are owned and controlled by Bangladesh MOFA, as a rule of thumb, that information should be mentioned. Allowing person’s or organization’s name to appear on a government website is not professional.
At the time of writing this article, at least 19 MOFA foreign mission websites have the name of a person or organization printed at the footer – including some foreign web developers. Even at the footer of MOFA’s own website has personal seal of a creator! Nothing is wrong in mentioning who is the designer or developer of the websites, however, it is very unconventional for a government website.
Proper control and maintenance of Bangladesh foreign mission websites are a national security issue.
Many issues can be mentioned that are affecting good web experience for visitors, such as
- Websites have many dead links, bad request links,
- Websites are almost static in nature,
- No interactive options in any websites,
- There are many kinds of platforms in use,
- Sites are not secured (https) to do any data transaction, if necessary, etc.
|Australia, Canberra||bhcanberra||.com||English||No||Yes, priyoaustralia & rbitsolutions|
|Belgium||bangladeshembassy||.be||--||--||--||Connection time out|
|China, Beijing||bangladeshembassy||.com.cn||English, Chinese||No|
|China, Kunming||x||x||x||x||x||No Website|
|China, Honk Kong||bangladeshconsulate||.hk||English||No||No information, only random and bad links. 3rd person Facebook link!|
|Germany||bangladeshembassy||.de||English||No||Yes, Deutsch Bangla Textile|
|India, Delhi||bdhcdelhi||.org||English||Yes, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube||Yes, Mrnproductions||MOFA website link has different info.|
|India, Agartala||x||x||x||x||x||No Website|
|India, Mumbai||x||x||x||x||x||No Website|
|Indonesia||bangladeshembassyjakarta||.com||English||No||Google free site|
|Italy, Milan||bcgmilan||.com||English||No||Yes, Kamrul Hassan||MOFA website has no info about this office!|
|Italy||bangladeshembassyinitaly||.com||--||--||--||Domain for sale|
|Japan||bdembassy||.jp||English||No||Yes, Arefin Tuhin||MOFA website link has different info. MOFA link is a fashion site!|
|Korea, South||x||x||x||x||x||No Website|
|Kuwait||kuwait.mofa||.gov.bd||English||Yes, Facebook||No website, only Facebook|
|Lebanon||bangladeshembassybeirut||.org||English||No||Yes, Drivs av Abstra||This website is not listed on MOFA website.|
|Libya||bdembassytripoli||.com||--||--||Website does not exist|
|Malaysia||bangladesh-highcomkl||.com||English||No||Yes, Raihan Mazumder|
|Myanmar, Yangon||bdembassyyangon||.org||English||No||Yes, BUZZ||This website is not listed on MOFA website.|
|Myanmar, Sittwe||x||x||x||x||x||No Website|
|Nepal||bangladoot||org.np||English, Bangla||Yes, Facebook, Twitter, Google+||Yes, Augustais||This website is not listed on MOFA website. Has a Hindi language link|
|Netherlands||bangladeshembassy||.nl||English||No||Link and scans|
|Pakistan, Karachi||bddhc-karachi||.org||English||No||Yes, Boundless Technologies|
|Philippines||bangladeshembassymanila||.org||English||No||Yes, I-Map Websolutions||This website is not listed on MOFA website.|
|Qatar||bdembassydoha||.com||English||No||Yes, Prism Technology||This website is not listed on MOFA website. Half broken|
|South Africa||x||x||x||x||x||No Website|
|Sri Lanka||bhccolombo||.lk||English||No||Yes, Zeeron Solutions||This website is not listed on MOFA website.|
|Switzerland||bangladeshmissiongeneva||.ch||--||--||Permanent Mission to UN offices. Forever in maintenance!|
|Thailand||bdembassybangkok||.org||English||No||Yes, G7website||This website is not listed on MOFA website.|
|Turkey||bangladootankara||.org.tr||English, Turkish||No||Yes, Orden|
|United Arab Emirate, Abu Dhabi||bdembassyuae||.org||English||No|
|United Arab Emirate, Dubai||cgbdubai||.org||English||No||Yes, Alwafaagroup||This website is not listed on MOFA website.|
|UK, Mancheshter||bahcmanchester||.org.uk||English||No||Yes, G5 Telecom|
|UK, Birmingham||x||x||x||x||x||No Website|
|USA, Washington DC||bdembassyusa||.org||English||Yes, YouTube|
|USA, New York||bdcgny||.org||English||No|
|USA, Los Angeles||bangladeshconsulatela||.com||English||No|
|UN Permanent Mission||N/A||--||English||No||The website belongs to UN|
Ways to Improve websites of Bangladesh Embassies and Consulates
There are many ways to improve the websites of Bangladesh embassies and consulates. Consult with some industry experts can be one way to go. Below are some obvious suggestions:
- Naming principle can be made uniform and consistent. For example: using mofa.gov.bd as a top-level domain, all foreign missions can be named with city in which they are stationed. Here are few examples:
| Abu Dhabi||https://www.abudhabi.mofa.gov.bd|
|Washington D. C.||https://www.washingtondc.mofa.gov.bd|
- General information about Bangladesh history, politics, geography, culture, tradition, literature, government structure, investment policy, etc. can be furnished by Bangladesh MOFA. Those information can be data-rich, synchronized, well researched. Rest can be given to each mission to add information according to their need. Website structure can be professional, user-friendly, modern and if possible, aesthetically appealing!
- Websites can be made in English with Bangla and local language support. Bangla language will help Bangladeshis in need and local language may assist foreign investors, tourists and information seekers. For example:
|Embassy||Language 1||Language 2||Language 3|
- When possible, rating system, FAQ, QA, social media sections can be added to better serve the clients.
- All websites should be made responsive and mobile-friendly as more people are accessing web via cell phones and tablets.
- To make websites fast, secure, and hacker proof appropriate measurements can be implemented according to industry experts. (like https, CDN etc.)
- Copyright, terms and conditions, disclaimer etc. should be clearly stated in all websites of Bangladesh MOFA foreign missions.
- All foreign missions can have web presence. At present, 17 embassies and consulates have no websites.
Online presence of nation like Bangladesh is very important as more and more people are seeking information online. For many investors, tourists, researchers, expatiates, businessmen a website is the first and prime source for information. Therefore, it will be wise for Bangladesh MOFA to create fast, secure, accurate, comprehensive and working websites for all of its embassies and consulates as soon as possible, including its own.