If you’ve visited www.ICANN.ORG today, you might notice that the site looks different than it did last week. We’ve refreshed the look of the pages as the first step in a comprehensive overhaul of ICANN.ORG.
The new look removes some clutter. For example, contrast the way links to social media tools now appear on the site, up in the banner area:
If the icons are not self-explanatory for any visitor, hovering the mouse cursor over an icon pops up a tool tip with a more explicit label – “Photos,” “Videos,” “Twitter,” and so on. The newer version strikes us as more modern and streamlined.
We’ve also introduced a fresher color palette than the staid blue which, over time, had become something of a corporate cliché on web sites. The clean white background really makes photos pop, putting appropriate emphasis on the people who drive ICANN’s work.
More importantly, this step is merely an interim refresh – new art on top of the existing site structure. Along with contractor Four Kitchens, the ICANN Communications Team is working hard on a complete redesign of the site’s information architecture and user interface. This work stands on the shoulders of the excellent research the Revere Group provided about site visitors through a survey and interviews in 2009. A cross-departmental team of ICANN staff continued in-depth interviews with site visitors in late 2010, reaching out to every Supporting Organization and Advisory Committee at ICANN to ensure their voices are heard as we undertake the redesign of this important communications tool.
All this research identified the requirements that our redesign will drive toward. The forward-looking list of site requirements is lengthy, but some notable ones we’re targeting include much better “findability” of resources and documents on the site, both by navigation and by search. And the redesigned site will offer a robust, fully supported mobile view for those accessing by phone. (This audience, demographers say, is growing so rapidly that by 2015, more individuals will access the Internet by phone than by computer.) ICANN.ORG will also be hosted differently, providing better resilience against unintended downtime and optimized loading time for visitors from around the world.
There is much more to say about this project, so I’ll post an update here from time to time. The conclusion for now is that we think the changes you see on ICANN.ORG are a step in the right direction – merely the first step on an ambitious journey we expect to conclude by the end of this year.