Every now and again, an organisation relaunches its website. There’s often nothing dramatic about it, it’s to make minor adjustments and make everything look fresh again. And now ICANN is about to do the same. We’re due to migrate to the new site in April – but for us it’s something more than just another website.
More than ever, ICANN is a global organisation, and these wider horizons, combined with its unchanging commitment to the multi-stakeholder, bottom-up model mean an increasing demand for a different toolset to drive policy and the conversations around it.
With our website, the challenge we’re facing is threefold:
- Allow people to quickly understand ICANN’s work, and it’s place and role in the Internet governance ecosystem;
- To broaden the range of stakeholders involved in Internet governance issues via ICANN’s supporting organizations and advisory committees and to find ways to move those newcomers along a continuum of engagement from a position of interest to a position of involvement;
- To create a set of digital tools for the old and new stakeholders to better surface content of interest to them and to allow them to more easily engage with that content and each other.
When we formally launch the site next month, we’ll pass the first two milestones in that process. At this stage, we’re trying to make ICANN and its processes and policies more visible to current and new people. We also hope we’ve made content more findable and the site more navigable. But there’s much to be done, on the work we’ve started, on the projects we’ll be looking to next, and on the priority list for the future.
The immediate next step on that priority list is the completion of the obvious tasks in the current iteration; there’s some ‘tidying up exercises to do as well and several sections of the site will continue to improve, notably Resources, Policy and the blog, and the way we deal with translation into different languages will be a major piece of work too.
At the same time, we want to return to where this process started – ICANNLabs. The Labs was where we tested out new ideas for the site – roadtesting them in public and getting feedback on which projects resonated and using that feedback loop to knock the rough edges off before we started the ‘real’ work. We want to continue with that agile process: ideas lead to experiments which generate feedback and community validation, allowing us to create rapid updates and send the site back out for feedback and validation. We want to continue with this methodology so ICANNLabs will live again and we’re looking to address these areas with it:
- Languages and testing different modes of translation. We’re looking to add new ways of translating content to include technological and crowd-sourced translation, while retaining the skill and quality of the technical translation that our current team provides.
- The peer advisory network. Some work on this has already started, but it will undoubtedly change beyond all recognition. The problem we’re trying to address is that Internet governance is a complex world and, if we’re to get newcomers (and others) up to speed with the terminology and processes they will need help from others in the community. The peer advisory network is to try and solve the problem of how we connect those willing to share with those who need to know. Have a look at these early thoughts and let us know your ideas.
- Accessibility improvements. The accessibility of the site is non-negotiable and we want to be a role model in this area. We’ll be seeking community input and participation in this work as well.
- Pathways. One of the aims of this process is to make ICANN more attractive to newcomers, to get new people involved in the debates. And once we get these people to the ICANN site, we want to lead them into clear user journeys which direct them to the appropriate SO/AC/Constituency where they can find the work and the contacts most valuable to them.
But there will be more. Feel free to make suggestions in the comments box as to where we ought to be innovating and improving. This is now a continuous journey for us and we want you with us all the way. We’ve relied on you to tell us what we’re doing right and wrong in the website development process so far, and we won’t stop doing that. Everything we put in front of you is there to be critiqued and tweaked to make the site more useful for you, the community that is responsible for moving ICANN’s work forward. That dialog will never change.