Filtered #1

04 July 2014

Here’s a selection of what’s sparked our curiosity, piqued our interest and made us shudder (almost) with delight this week.

Una liked the way the Arrels Foundation have created a collection of typefaces based on the handwriting of homeless.

She also enjoyed this talk about the story of Airbnb and the growth of the sharing economy.

And finally from Una: a video of Tina RothEisenberg talking about side projects which turned into “labors of love”.

The Internet with a Human Face

I found much to chew over in this great talk by Maciej Cegłowski (of Pinboard) from Beyond Tellerrand in Düsseldorf, Germany. Here’s a few choice morsels:

a lot of what’s wrong with the Internet has to do with memory. The Internet somehow contrives to remember too much and too little at the same time, and it maps poorly on our concepts of how memory should work. […]

One reason there’s a backlash against Google glasses is that they try to bring the online rules into the offline world […] Google’s answer is, wake up, grandpa, this is the new normal. But all they’re doing is trying to port a bug in the Internet over to the real world, and calling it progress. You can dress up a bug and call it a feature. You can also put dog crap in the freezer and call it ice cream. But people can taste the difference. […]

These big collections of personal data are like radioactive waste. It’s easy to generate, easy to store in the short term, incredibly toxic, and almost impossible to dispose of. Just when you think you’ve buried it forever, it comes leaching out somewhere unexpected. […]

One of the worst aspects of surveillance is how it limits our ability to be creative with technology. It’s like a tax we all have to pay on innovation. We can’t have cool things, because they’re too potentially invasive.

I also enjoyed this talk on generalists and trans-media by Frank Chimero which gave me hope as a incurably curious generalist lurching from interest to interest and feeling inadequate in the face of specialists.

I still believe that:

Major innovation comes from the unexplored no-man’s-land between the disciplines

– Norbert Weiner

and point anyone in doubt in the direction of James Burke’s dConstruct talk from 2012.

Finally, here’s a great article about “Bots of conviction” with some interesting guidance on creating Twitter bots which have meaning and are effective for protest.

End of transmission

On a device-agnostic approach

17 March 2014

2010

Only a few years ago, most people went online using a desktop or a laptop.

A desktop computer

CC Image courtesy of Rakesh Ashok on Flickr

Today and beyond

Now people use a myriad of devices over a varying connections summed up as “hostile browsers, tiny screens, slow connection speeds, touch inputs

Many mobile devices

CC Image courtesy of Jeremy Keith on Flickr

2017

Tablets and smartphones will make up most of the sales of connected devices

Graph of mobile device growth

Image from IDC

A mobile world

Mobile is often the only point of internet access in some parts of the world

Map of mobile share of web views

Image from We Are Social

Are we building a digital product for yesterday or tomorrow?

Projected mobile device growth

See this post for lots more stats

Traditional approach

Design and build desktop site first – consider this the “complete version”. Then consider a mobile site – slimmed down version of desktop version – either as separate site or using media queries – “responsive design”

  • Bad for users – Penalise them for visiting site on a smaller device when most people want full access.
  • Painful to maintain – No easy or coherent evolution of design

What if we turn it around?

Make the product:

  • Work well at many different screen sizes
  • Built for speed and performance on many devices / connection speeds
  • Work for touch screen and even “no-screen” (accessibility/APIs etc)
  • Promote content over navigation

Mobile first is a bit misleading

It’s really about starting to design from the content outwards.

Device agnostic

Content, presentation, interface – Reduce to the minimum amount necessary

  • Forces you to focus and prioritize by embracing constraints
  • Ensures you don’t have to maintain separate sites
  • Serves your users in countries with poor connections by default

Different devices and poor connections are not after-thoughts: they are at the heart of the product.

Progressively enhance for particular devices only when evidence of demand exists.

Data structures and editorial / content decisions are the biggest issues. Technical and design issues are secondary.

If we think about the content first, working on any device, all other considerations slot into place.

Hierarchy of content needs

Some ways of prioritising and thinking about content in a device-agnostic project:

  1. Access
  2. Legibility
  3. Ease of comprehension
  4. Relevance – to the need, moment, interests, behaviour, and personal history
  5. Everything else: Later access, ease of reference, etc</ul>

See this post on responsive web publishing for more details.

ICC Alpha is live

17 March 2014

Apologies for the lack of updates here. Exciting news:

ICC Alpha, a prototype which contains ideas and solutions for some of the most important needs of ICC website users, is now ready.

It is by no means complete, but we are releasing ICC Alpha now because we want to hear your comments about the approach that we are taking.

If you are interested in reviewing ICC Alpha and providing feedback, please get in touch (link no longer working) and we will send you the details.

Your comments and thoughts will help us to improve the new website.

ICC Alpha — Competitor review

11 October 2013

We’ve looked at lots of other websites in the field of international justice and a few beyond to find interesting and exciting stuff. Suggestions have come from the website survey, interviews, conversations and a blog post.

Here are some of the things we’ve found. These ideas and approaches will inform the design stage of the ICC Alpha.  You can download a pdf version (5.6MB) from Scribd if you prefer.

IA / Top Navigation

Top navigation of judicial websites

Lots of similar judicial sites follow the same IA format. Instead consider splitting the user journey more starkly with structured browse – situations/cases and the court – and having more flexible navigation. eg breadcrumb for situations/cases and a big footer. Use relatedness / relationships (tagging and metadata).

Big footers

Big footers examples

Good for reference. Informative. Useful. Almost like a sitemap at the bottom of every page.

Timelines

Timeline examples

An important tool to provide clarity, context and depth for the complex cases the ICC deals with, eg telling the story of the case.

Imagery / Video

Imagery examples

Not just walls of text. Telling a human story. Educate and inspire. Show what’s happening inside the ICC and beyond. Look further than the default option (robed judges in court).

Presenting lots of text / pdfs

Examples of how websites present lots of text

HTML needs to be the default publishing format with the exception of court filings. Effective use of typography. Plenty of white space. Readability on all devices is paramount. Clear indication of download, format, filesize before user clicks.

Search, filter, sort

Search examples

Search tools – see latest filings, filter by case, topic, keyword, etc – are very important.

Email sign up / email alerts

Email alert examples

Open up press list to anyone to sign up. Allow users to tailor subscription to specific areas, situations, cases. Offer alerts for new filings. These tools can be used in other sections, eg ASP.

Maps

Map examples

Good to represent the scope of the court’s work and its backing (ASP), but lots of difficulties around nuance and politics.

Educational resources

Classroom resource examples

Classroom resources and content for young people are important but difficult to do well. We need more information on audience and aims.

Feedback / transparency

Feedback examples

Including report an error, ask a question, see an article’s history, ask for feedback. Helps to establish trust, signal openness and find out about things you might be unaware of.

Use of data / visualisations

Feedback examples

To convey what the ICC has achieved judicially, politically and on the ground, eg trial chamber dealt with x decisions, x applications, x requests to give impression of complexity of the case.

Thanks! If you have any questions about this approach or the project in general, please feel free to leave a comment or contact Public Information and Documentation Section.

Sites reviewed

ICC Alpha — Initial information architecture and the shape of the ICC alpha

10 October 2013

Some of the most important needs of the ICC website users revolve around the investigative and judicial work of the ICC. It is the “irreducible core” of the ICC’s work. It accounts for over two-thirds of the visits to the site. As such it has emerged as the best way to give shape to the website.

Investigative and judicial work needs to be easy to access, ordered and quick to navigate. The proposed structure reflects these needs:

The homepage will have a section showing all situations and cases http://icc-cpi.int/#situationsandcases

Each situation will then have a page, e.g., http://icc-cpi.int/kenya

Then each case within that situation will have a page, e.g., http://icc-cpi.int/kenya/case

And all the filings within the case will be available at http://icc-cpi.int/kenya/case/filings.

You can see a bit more of this structure here:

ICC Alpha IA

That just leaves “everything else”, which is to say that anything that does not deal with the investigative and judicial work of the ICC in the context of situations and cases will go in this other section.

A big part of “everything else” will be an explanatory section on how the court works. Rather than split this section by organ or activity we’re going to try using context as a way to convey the complex activities of the ICC. The sections will be based around:

  • In the courtroom
  • In the field
  • In the world

Each organ and section will also have its own section elsewhere, but we hope that the ICC can be explained more clearly and more compellingly by showing users how these different organs and sections work in context rather than presenting them as isolated units.

ICC Alpha IA other

The sections for each organ, section or body will be standardised. That doesn’t mean they will all look the same, but it will help the user to know where to go for the information they are looking for. We’re also going to take a lean approach to publishing in these sections. Rather than re-writing old content, we need to ask does anyone really need it? Using analytics and other data, we can make a judgement about whether to retire that content. Getting rid of this out-of-date content is good for stakeholders in the ICC (less to maintain) and good for users (less to sift through), so it is worth taking time to edit and prune.

This structure – along with search and mailing lists – will form the basis for the ICC alpha:

  1. Cases
  2. Search
  3. Situations and Homepage
  4. How the court works
  5. Organs and bodies
  6. Mailings lists & alerts
  7. Engagement

This alpha site will be a proof of concept. It won’t contain all the content and it won’t have everything needed to launch the website, but it will provide a basis for getting the things that matter most to your users right.

If you have any questions about this approach or the project in general, please feel free to leave a comment or contact Public Information and Documentation Section.

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