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ICANN's Roadmap for Community Digital Services

22 January 2015
By Chris Gift

In addition to the U.N. six languages, this content is also available in

Over the last few years, more and more organizations have moved, at varying pace, towards a greater reliance on delivering information, transactions and services digitally. And it is time we join that movement.

My role as VP, Digital Services means that I am responsible for working with the community to define more resilient and more useful digital services, which will allow ICANN to serve its communities better and give those communities better tools to work together, to fulfil their missions and those of ICANN. In this process we want to make sure we are building the tools you need, and that we're building them in the right way.

This blog, and its many successors, will be our attempt to explain and engage as we go - talking you through your priorities, and our methodologies, motivations and, indeed, problems.

Our focus over the last year has been the building of a better website, which we launched earlier last year. The new(ish) site serves as the main digital presence for ICANN staff and community, and acts as an onboarding tool for newcomers to the world of ICANN, in the manner of the continuum of engagement model that many of you will have seen. The usage figures of the site show significant uptake - there are now over 9200 community profiles for instance, growing at a rate of 15% a month, which indicate that its performed some of its desired functions - but we're not satisfied with it yet.

Further changes to the ICANN website are, therefore, the first steps on the roadmap we're planning for digital services. The site was built using 'agile' processes, and it's a mindset we'll continue to use on the ICANN.org site - constantly looking to make changes - simply considering the site to be in permanent beta.

First up, though, is the work to address some of the bigger issues that remain:

  1. Improvements to the navigation in the left-hand channel, improved pagination, better accessibility standards and changes to the homepage to make it easier to understand and to see the key content;
  2. More 'friendly' urls, which will also be more search-optimised, along with an improved set of redirects;
  3. Easier access to 'popular' content - for example, we'll create aggregation pages, pulling together related content (news, blogs, pictures etc) for, in the first instance, the ICANN Academy and the regions. Alongside that, we'll have a new landing page for Compliance, with analytics, simplified navigation and a focus on learning and programs. At the same time, we'll look to make the accountability reviews, registries and board support pages easier to find and navigate;
  4. We're always looking for ways to improve the 'local' service to countries and regions outside the US, looking to localized content and better translation services.

We also want to help improve the digital presence and collaboration tools of the supporting organisations (SO), advisory committees (AC), and constituencies:

  1. Better resources for onboarding newcomers, with explanatory content, news and access to consultations, improved search and navigation;
  2. A pilot tool for the Generic Names support organization (GNSO) to help improve working group membership management;
  3. Finally, a pilot project with the Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC) for improved collaborative document authoring.

That's the immediate future, the 'close' roadmap, which should take us to the end of the financial year, with a fair wind.

Beyond that, we're listening to you to see how we can progress on other significant issues:

  1. We'd like to join the Open Data movement, and improve the organizational transparency, by making data better available and in useful formats. This is no small matter and will involve organizational issues as well as technical ones;
  2. Better interaction processes, where we can define implement and manage systems so that ICANN's communities can collaborate and communicate more effectively;
  3. How to support SO, AC and constituency membership management with tools and services;
  4. Better use of data to help us understand how our tools and services are used, and how we can drive better engagement;
  5. Greater integration of myICANN, and hence better personalization of the services we provide, including such things as project portfolios, calendars and personalized news feeds.

So that's the near and medium-term horizons - and a lot of work. The longer term will be the subject of a future post, no doubt, but for the moment, we're keen to develop a better understanding between ICANN's providers and users of digital services.

As I mentioned, this blog, and those that follow, are a part of that, part of our commitment to report and explain our projects, priorities and motivations and to be as transparent as possible. Your feedback is essential to this process - if you don't tell us what you need, we'll be building on assumptions which might be increasingly data-driven but which might miss your specific use case. So talk to us, on this blog, on social media, email (the address is just Chris.Gift at icann.org ) or even in person - I will certainly try to be more visible in ICANN meetings, and ready to listen.

There's lots to do, and we'll do it better with you … so as we kick off 2015, send us your thoughts on how we can add more visibility and interaction with you in achieving these goals.


Chris Gift

Chris Gift