Already early in the adoption of the Internet, Durk Jan de Bruin started thinking about a remote control for the overload of webpages on the Internet. In this process, he imagined his father being an inexperienced Internet user as the target audience of such a website. His idea was to provide a webpage which contains a collection of links within a certain area of interest. On 15 September 1998, Startpagina.nl was launched. It provided an overview of all the most important websites on the Internet, grouped per type. During its first years, the number of visitors boomed from 40,000 page views per day in the first days, to 1 million in 2000 and 4 million in 2009 .
Equally remarkable however is the growth of the number of daughter pages. The first daughter page ‘vakantie.startpagina.nl’, was launched in February 1999, and only contained links that were related to vacations. After a while, visitors were invited and encouraged to begin their own daughter page, about topics of their interest. The number of daughter pages increased rapidly: 800 in September 2000, and 5,700 in 2009 . The last couple of years the growth has stabilized, resulting in the current number of daughter pages of 6,049 .
zeilen.startpagina.nl: startpagina.nl’s daughter site on sailing, only providing useful links on this topic.
Because Durk Jan de Bruin made it seem like he was running the website from his attic, he was able to attract so many other people believing in the cause. Throughout the years, the 1,700 individual administrators of these pages form a community that even organizes a ‘daughterday’ each year. The administrators are independent, and their pages are kept up-to-date through feedback, tips and suggestions from visitors. In addition to suggesting new links to the page’s administrator, visitors can add personal links in a separate section on the page and if some sections don’t apply to the visitor’s area of interest, they can be removed from the page. Another way how visitors are actively involved in the page are the message boards or fora behind each daughter page, where visitors can exchange ideas and opinions about their field of interest.
Because startpagina.nl is a free product, revenue has to come from a different source. With 4 million page views per day, it forms great potential for advertisements. These advertisements are available in three different types: a full page, exclusive for the advertiser, a dedicated section within a page, or by placing a link within the relevant section on a page. This enables tailor-made options for advertisers, resulting in conversion rates up to 6.2% .
Nowadays, dark clouds are gathering above startpagina.nl. Already in 2000, when Durk Jan de Bruin sold startpagina.nl to VNU for 32 million euro , some administrators started complaining about this sale and started their own website: startkabel.nl, based on the same principles. Although startpagina.nl ranked among the most visited pages through the 2000s, it is now ranked 45th in the Netherlands, surpassed by search engines like Google, Yahoo and Live , and showing a steady decline in visitors. A second problem the website may struggle with in the future is the aging visitors to its website. Currently, 77% of the visitors is over 35 years old , probably a result from the website’s glory days in the 2000s. For the first problem, to counter the search engines, startpagina.nl added a more elaborate search function on their homepage. However, the results are not yet convincing, and a solution to attract a wider and younger audience needs to be found quickly.
- Geschiedenis Startpagina. http://feedback.startpagina.nl/, Accessed May 18, 2014
- Startpagina. http://www.startpagina.nl/meer, Accessed May 18, 2014
- Startpagina factsheet 2014. http://www.sanoma.nl/media/uploads/files/2014/05/01/startpagina_factsheet_def_1.pdf, Accessed May 18, 2014
- Het gaat niet zo goed met startpagina.nl (maar nu.nl groeit als kool). http://www.hyped.nl/nieuws/het_gaat_niet_zo_goed_met_startpaginanl_maar_nunl_groeit_als_kool.html, Accessed May 18, 2014
- Alexa Top Sites in Netherlands. http://www.alexa.com/topsites/countries/NL, Accessed May 18, 2014
- Bereik starpagina.nl. http://www.sanoma.nl/merken/bereik/startpaginanl/, Accessed May 18, 2014