Filtered #2

22 July 2014

Here’s a medley of curious threads we have pulled into our browsers this week.

  1. Una found a kind of a morbid one but fascinating article about what happens to your online identity after you die.
  2. She also discovered the world’s first light art museum, the digital art renaissance and redesigned parking sign. Yes, finally!
  3. Rob’s discovered Longplayer, a one thousand year long musical composition. The Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill made it through parliament in the UK despite lots of people (myself included) writing to their MPs. Ho hum. We’ll have to find other ways to defend our rights to privacy, such as this online privacy pack courtesy of Reset The Net.

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


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


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.


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.


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

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