Just before the Sydney meeting in June we announced we were running a usability study on the main ICANN website at icann.org and opened a survey to the community to provide their feedback. This is an update on that process just prior to the next meeting in Seoul, starting on Monday.
Since June, ICANN staff has been working hard with external consultants Revere Group to redesign the website to fit with the community’s needs. Revere first carried out a site audit [pdf], pointing out all the areas where the website didn’t fit in with best practices and guidelines.
Then it carried out the online survey as well as around 15 in-depth interviews with community members and staff to find out what it was that people felt the website needed to do. And it also went through the full logs of website visitors to find out who was coming to the site and from where. And from that created a research document [pdf] summarizing the findings.
Based on these two documents, a new taxonomy [pdf] of the site was developed in iterations. New categories and menus cover all the different aspects of ICANN as an organization and structure them more simply and logically. And from that, wireframes [pdf] – blueprint designs – for new webpages were drawn up and new functions and approaches were discussed in an effort to make the site as easy to use as possible.
Once the wireframes were in place, the study then moved into a design phase where a wide range of different approaches to the actual site look were drawn up and run through a group of around 10 staff over the course of a month, and the designs were gradually honed down to the point where the blueprints for the different pages were created as images.
And that’s where we currently are, as of 21 October. The remaining steps are the important ones – figuring out how to implement the new approach, ensuring that we keep as much of the design and new functions sketched out earlier in the process.
We will be working on a timetable for that in the next few weeks and will try to be conservative in our estimates so we don’t end up over-promising. But it is probably safe to say that before the next meeting in Nairobi in March 2010, there will be an updated and fit-for-purpose website that should finally put an end to most, if not all, of the usability issues that the community has had to deal with on ICANN.org for the past few years.
We are publishing summaries of the different aspects of this whole process so you as the community can see the work that has been put into this effort. Hopefully you will like what you see.
Usability study work summaries [pdfs]