[Dateline: New York | Author: iSeek]
Have you logged on to un.org today?
The newly redesigned UN home page was launched on Friday, 1 May, after a long process of behind-the-scenes preparation and extensive consultation among content-providing offices and the Office of Information and Communications Technology (OICT). The goals were to re-structure the site, introduce a site branding concept, improve navigation and usability, and ensure greater coherence.
The concept of the redesign was approved by the Executive Office of the Secretary-General some time ago, and, recently, by the Internet Governance Group. This inter-departmental high-level body also reviewed the new presentation of the site. "The concept embodies the Organization’s priorities placed on multilingualism, web accessibility, and usability," says Kiyo Akasaka, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information (DPI). The redesign process ensured that these priorities were maintained and enhanced.
All new pages now have a branding bar across the top to give the site a consistent look and feel. This feature helps bring coherence to the site and offers a site-wide search to facilitate quick access to information, links to all the language versions and a link from the UN icon back to the main page.
The five thematic pages, which cover the five main areas of the work of the United Nations, are colour-coded and serve as gateways to information on those themes. All thematic pages now feature a consistent presentation, thanks to extensive consultation with content-providing offices.
The visible elements are only part of what went into this major revamp. The Web Services Section of DPI, which undertook this major effort, faced many challenges in this exercise. Chief of Section, Mahbub Ahmad told iSeek, there is no Content Management System (CMS) behind the redesign as yet, but the template-driven architecture is easily transportable to the upcoming CMS, as and when it is in place. The multiplicity of stake-holders and content providers resulted in competing and sometimes clashing wish lists. Strict accessibility requirements were an integral part of the process. Resource constraints, compounded with rapidly growing maintenance needs for un.org, added to the challenge.
More than 8,000 files were worked on, and in order to ensure that the old and the new happily co-exist, more than 1,000 redirects were put in place, so that links from the existing pages point to the new pages in their new locations and earlier bookmarks continue to work.
Since its launch in 1996, un.org has become an integral part of the Organization’s communication tools, with over 1.5 million page views daily. The new design of the site is the first in a series of improvements to look forward to, such as enhanced searches, consistent presentation styles and greater integration between the different parts of the site. It is and will remain a work in progress.