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 Getting rid of this out-of-date content is good for stakeholders in the ICC (less to maintain) and good for users (less to sift through), so it is worth taking time to edit and prune.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.

ICC Alpha — User research report

07 October 2013


The ICC website has a steady audience who visit day to day for updates on activities. There’s incredible interest during important events such as the opening of a trial (5 x normal).

ICC website pageviews graph

What do users think of the ICC current website?

The most frequent word used to describe the current ICC website was frustrating. The other words (and the answers to other survey questions) show the ICC website has a passionate and loyal audience, who are often thwarted in the tasks they must complete.

ICC website feedback word cloud

(Larger versions of these images are available in the pdf report which you can download below.)

Most common complaints:

  • “Can’t find updates”
  • “Difficult to find important decisions”
  •  Having to go to more than one place for new filings/updates
  • “Updates are too slow/Delays publishing information”
  • “Too many steps to get to a case”
  • “Search engine is not working”
  • “Overly legalistic language”
  • “Too many dead/broken links”
  •  “Streaming of trial proceedings often doesn’t work”
  •  “Cannot scroll in older IE browser”
  •  “Fonts are too small”

How easy was it to find what you were looking for?

5.3 (mean figure), 13% (very easy), 17% (very hard)

How likely would you be to recommend the website to your friends?

5.7 (mean figure), 24% (very likely), 19% (not very likely)

Where do users live?

Visitors from 213 different countries. Very different needs, different technologies – must try to provide a consistent experience.

Location – (One year / Analytics)

ICC website location data

These different views show how tricky it is to pin down where your users’ locations.

Location – (Sept 2013 / Analytics)

ICC website location data - one month

Visitors change if you look at the most recent month. Interest from different countries ebbs and flows according to the activities of the court.

Location – (Survey EN)

ICC website location data - survey

Location – (Survey FR)

ICC website location data - French survey

The French version of the website currently serves a small but important audience.

Who are your users?

Fairly even gender split and even divide between regular users and new visitors. Well over half the ICC website users are under 35 years old (according to the survey results). The French website accounts for less than one fifth of visits. 

ICC website demographics

ICC website users are highly educated: nearly 70 per cent have a postgraduate degree. Lots of legal professionals, NGO professionals, journalists and diplomats, but also a lot of students and the general public, ie people who answered “other”. In case you are interested “other” included: intern, accountant, retired civil servant, clergy, private investigator, admin assistant, freelance translator, crime victim. 

ICC website demographics - education

ICC website users spend a lot of time online. Many of its users live online, ie over five hours per day. They access it at home, at work and on the move. The browser chart (impossible to read below) shows Chrome is at the top, followed by IE (IE7 still gets used but IE6 has really dropped off), Firefox and then Safari. 

ICC website demographics - time online

Most of the traffic comes either directly or from search. Social referrals are low at the moment.

ICC website demographics - time online

“Egypt” is the top search term for the year along with “Columbia” suggesting lots of interest in where the ICC could or could not operate.

ICC website search terms

“Syria” is the top search term for September 2013 backing up the conclusions over the year (previous slide) that lots of interest in where the ICC could or could not operate. Very little content currently serves this need.

ICC website search terms - one month

Thanks for making it to the end of this report. We hope you found it useful. You can download a pdf version (2.3MB) from Scribd if you prefer. 

We will be posting information in the coming weeks on this blog about how we will use this research (which this post provides only a quick snapshot of). If you have any questions about this user research or the project in general, please contact Public Information and Documentation Section. 

ICC make mantra: justice for humanity

07 October 2013

This idea is taken from the work on the Cern website by Mark Boulton Design. Working on a project for a complicated organisation over a long period of time, this design team found it a “make mantra” useful. You can read about the details of this approach on Mark’s blog but the idea is to create a short statement or phrase which can act as a guide through the project.

One of the trickiest parts of the ICC digital project is the diverse audiences and the difficult subject matter, so our make mantra – justice for humanity – is intended as a way to remind us about all our audiences and modulate what we say accordingly.

ICC website make mantra graph

At one side we have the general public, who have little understanding of the ICC and how it operates, but they have a need to connect with its mission on a human and emotional level. At the other side, we have lawyers and academics, who have a deep understanding of the ICC and international law. Everyone else fits somewhere on this scale.

Of course, the nuances of engaging the ICC’s different audience cannot be captured in a single phrase. For that, we have user research, personas, user needs and user stories (more about those later in this blog). Still, we hope you find this useful when considering our approach to different audiences.

ICC Alpha — Digital project aims

07 October 2013

After talking to lots of users and stakeholders, we’ve set down the main aims of the new digital project. These broad ambitions will act as beacons to keep the digital project heading in the right direction and to check if the things we are working on are achieving what we set out to achieve.

It’s important that everyone in the ICC gets behind these aims, so if you have anything to say, please leave a comment below or contact the Public Information and Documentation Section. Thanks!

The digital project aims to serve existing users better as well as to attract and engage a wider audience about the importance of the ICC and the effects of its work.

  1. Quicker, easier, clearer — Users from all groups must be able to find what they need easily and quickly. All communications must be clear and concise, crafted in a way which most people can understand. The ICC is the authoritative voice about the ICC.

  2. More vibrant, more human, more engaging — The ICC is an independent and impartial judicial institution, but its website must be more than a filing cabinet for legal decisions. The ICC website needs to provide context and explain the ICC work. Why does the ICC matter? Who has it helped and how has it affected their lives? Engage the user, listen to them and use each interaction as an opportunity to garner support for the ICC’s mission.

  3. More efficient, more effective — Do as much as possible with as little as possible. Focus on the irreducible core: ICC does what only ICC can do. Every endeavour must answer a user need and have at least one measure of success, which will be monitored and reviewed over time.

  4. Accessible by everyone, everywhere — Users must be able to access the website on “four screens” – laptop/PC, tablet, mobile and IPTV. It must cater for users with limited internet bandwidth and must work for people with disabilities, non-native En/Fr speakers. It must be built to withstand the rapid pace of technological change (ie, be based on web standards).

Analysis phase is coming to an end

26 September 2013

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been examining who uses the ICC website, how they use it and what they need from a new ICC website. We’ve used three main techniques:

  1. Data from web analytics – Helps to understand users, uncover usage patterns, see most popular content and use search logs to see what people are looking for.
  2. Web survey – Over 400 people answered the website survey in the last few weeks.
  3. Telephone interviews – We have conducted interviews with users from the different audiences from around the world including the general public, journalists, NGOs, academics, lawyers and diplomats. 

We’ve also talked to representatives of the ICC organs and other stakeholders about what they need from the website. 

All this work (which will be available here in the coming weeks) will guide and shape the next phase.

We’ll be working in “sprints” building “ potentially shippable increments” of the website. That means we start with the most important user needs and we design, build and test something to meet those needs, then we move on to the next sprint and repeat the process for another set of user needs. It’s an exciting and effective way to work on the digital products and we hope it will work well at the ICC. 

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to comment below or contact the Public Information and Documentation Section.

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