Blog posts tagged as icc-alpha

On a device-agnostic approach


Only a few years ago, most people went online using a desktop or a laptop.

Desktop computer
CC Image courtesy of Rakesh Ashok on Flickr

Today and beyond

Now people use a myriad of devices over a varying connections summed up as “hostile browsers, tiny screens, slow connection speeds, touch inputs

Device lab

CC Image courtesy of Jeremy Keith on Flickr


Tablets and smartphones will make up most of the sales of connected devices

Worldwide connected device forecast

Image from IDC

A mobile world

Mobile is often the only point of internet access in some parts of the world

Mobile's share of webviews around the world

Image from We Are Social

Are we building a digital product for yesterday or tomorrow?

Monthly active users for mobile and non-mobile

See this post for lots more stats

Traditional approach

Design and build desktop site first – consider this the “complete version”. Then consider a mobile site – slimmed down version of desktop version – either as separate site or using media queries – “responsive design”

  • Bad for users – Penalise them for visiting site on a smaller device when most people want full access.
  • Painful to maintain – No easy or coherent evolution of design

What if we turn it around?

Make the product:

  • Work well at many different screen sizes
  • Built for speed and performance on many devices / connection speeds
  • Work for touch screen and even “no-screen” (accessibility/APIs etc)
  • Promote content over navigation

Mobile first is a bit misleading

It’s really about starting to design from the content outwards.

Device agnostic

Content, presentation, interface – Reduce to the minimum amount necessary

  • Forces you to focus and prioritize by embracing constraints
  • Ensures you don’t have to maintain separate sites
  • Serves your users in countries with poor connections by default

Different devices and poor connections are not after-thoughts: they are at the heart of the product.

Progressively enhance for particular devices only when evidence of demand exists.

Data structures and editorial / content decisions are the biggest issues. Technical and design issues are secondary.

If we think about the content first, working on any device, all other considerations slot into place.

Hierarchy of content needs

Some ways of prioritising and thinking about content in a device-agnostic project:

  1. Access
  2. Legibility
  3. Ease of comprehension
  4. Relevance – to the need, moment, interests, behaviour, and personal history
  5. Everything else: Later access, ease of reference, etc
  6. See this post on responsive web publishing for more details.

ICC Alpha is live

Apologies for the lack of updates here. Exciting news:

ICC Alpha, a prototype which contains ideas and solutions for some of the most important needs of ICC website users, is now ready.

It is by no means complete, but we are releasing ICC Alpha now because we want to hear your comments about the approach that we are taking.

If you are interested in reviewing ICC Alpha and providing feedback, please get in touch and we will send you the details.

Your comments and thoughts will help us to improve the new website.

ICC Alpha – Competitor review

We’ve looked at lots of other websites in the field of international justice and a few beyond to find interesting and exciting stuff. Suggestions have come from the website survey, interviews, conversations and a blog post.

Here are some of the things we’ve found. These ideas and approaches will inform the design stage of the ICC Alpha.  You can download a pdf version (5.6MB) from Scribd if you prefer.

IA / Top Navigation


Lots of similar judicial sites follow the same IA format. Instead consider splitting the user journey more starkly with structured browse – situations/cases and the court – and having more flexible navigation. eg breadcrumb for situations/cases and a big footer. Use relatedness / relationships (tagging and metadata).

Big footers


Good for reference. Informative. Useful. Almost like a sitemap at the bottom of every page.



An important tool to provide clarity, context and depth for the complex cases the ICC deals with, eg telling the story of the case.

Imagery / Video


Not just walls of text. Telling a human story. Educate and inspire. Show what’s happening inside the ICC and beyond. Look further than the default option (robed judges in court).

Presenting lots of text / pdfs


HTML needs to be the default publishing format with the exception of court filings. Effective use of typography. Plenty of white space. Readability on all devices is paramount. Clear indication of download, format, filesize before user clicks.

Search, filter, sort


Search tools – see latest filings, filter by case, topic, keyword, etc – are very important.

Email sign up / email alerts


Open up press list to anyone to sign up. Allow users to tailor subscription to specific areas, situations, cases. Offer alerts for new filings. These tools can be used in other sections, eg ASP.



Good to represent the scope of the court’s work and its backing (ASP), but lots of difficulties around nuance and politics.

Educational resources


Classroom resources and content for young people are important but difficult to do well. We need more information on audience and aims.

Feedback / transparency


Including report an error, ask a question, see an article’s history, ask for feedback. Helps to establish trust, signal openness and find out about things you might be unaware of.

Use of data / visualisations


To convey what the ICC has achieved judicially, politically and on the ground, eg trial chamber dealt with x decisions, x applications, x requests to give impression of complexity of the case.

Thanks! If you have any questions about this approach or the project in general, please feel free to leave a comment or contact Public Information and Documentation Section.

Sites reviewed

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY)

International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR)

Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL)

Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL)

Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC)

International Court of Justice (ICJ)

European Court of Human Rights (ECHR)

Iran-United States Claims Tribunal

Permanent Court of Arbitration

United Nations

Ministry of Foreign Affairs |

United Nations News Centre

European Union

European Parliament

European Commission

Council of Europe



OSCE: Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe

OAS – Organization of American States

ICRC: International Committee of the Red Cross

Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons




World Food Programme

Journalists for Justice

International Organization of Migration

White House

Andy Rutledge

BBC News



End Impunity

Open Society Justice Initiative

Coalition for the International Criminal Court

Human Rights Watch

International Center for Transitional Justice

International Justice Project

Amnesty International

Fédération Internationale des Ligues des Droits de l’Homme (FIDH)

No Peace Without Justice

Parliamentarians for Global Action

The Redress Trust

Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice


ICC Alpha – Initial information architecture and the shape of the ICC alpha

Some of the most important needs of the ICC website users revolve around the investigative and judicial work of the ICC. It is the “irreducible core” of the ICC’s work. It accounts for over two-thirds of the visits to the site. As such it has emerged as the best way to give shape to the website.

Investigative and judicial work needs to be easy to access, ordered and quick to navigate. The proposed structure reflects these needs:

The homepage will have a section showing all situations and cases

Each situation will then have a page,  eg,

Then each case within that situation will have a page, eg,

And all the filings within the case will be available at

You can see a bit more of this structure here:


That just leaves “everything else”, which is to say that anything that does not deal with the investigative and judicial work of the ICC in the context of situations and cases will go in this other section.

A big part of “everything else” will be an explanatory section on how the court works. Rather than split this section by organ or activity we’re going to try using context as a way to convey the complex activities of the ICC. The sections will be based around:

  • In the courtroom
  • In the field
  • In the world

Each organ and section will also have its own section elsewhere, but we hope that the ICC can be explained more clearly and more compellingly by showing users how these different organs and sections work in context rather than presenting them as isolated units.


The sections for each organ, section or body will be standardised. That doesn’t mean they will all look the same, but it will help the user to know where to go for the information they are looking for. We’re also going to take a lean approach to publishing in these sections. Rather than re-writing old content, we need to ask does anyone really need it? Using analytics and other data, we can make a judgement about whether to retire that content. Getting rid of this out-of-date content is good for stakeholders in the ICC (less to maintain) and good for users (less to sift through), so it is worth taking time to edit and prune.

This structure – along with search and mailing lists – will form the basis for the ICC alpha:

1. Cases
2. Search
3. Situations and Homepage
4. How the court works
5. Organs and bodies
6. Mailings lists & alerts
7. Engagement

This alpha site will be a proof of concept. It won’t contain all the content and it won’t have everything needed to launch the website, but it will provide a basis for getting the things that matter most to your users right.

If you have any questions about this approach or the project in general, please feel free to leave a comment or contact Public Information and Documentation Section.

ICC Alpha make mantra: justice for humanity

This idea is taken from the work on the Cern website by Mark Boulton Design. Working on a project for a complicated organisation over a long period of time, this design team found it a “make mantra” useful. You can read about the details of this approach on Mark’s blog but the idea is to create a short statement or phrase which can act as a guide through the project.

One of the trickiest parts of the ICC digital project is the diverse audiences and the difficult subject matter, so our make mantra – justice for humanity – is intended as a way to remind us about all our audiences and modulate what we say accordingly.

At one side we have the general public, who have little understanding of the ICC and how it operates, but they have a need to connect with its mission on a human and emotional level. At the other side, we have lawyers and academics, who have a deep understanding of the ICC and international law. Everyone else fits somewhere on this scale.

Of course, the nuances of engaging the ICC’s different audience cannot be captured in a single phrase. For that, we have user research, personas, user needs and user stories (more about those later in this blog). Still, we hope you find this useful when considering our approach to different audiences.

ICC Alpha – Digital project aims

After talking to lots of users and stakeholders, we’ve set down the main aims of the new digital project. These broad ambitions will act as beacons to keep the digital project heading in the right direction and to check if the things we are working on are achieving what we set out to achieve.

It’s important that everyone in the ICC gets behind these aims, so if you have anything to say, please leave a comment below or contact the Public Information and Documentation Section. Thanks!

The digital project aims to serve existing users better as well as to attract and engage a wider audience about the importance of the ICC and the effects of its work.

  1. Quicker, easier, clearerUsers from all groups must be able to find what they need easily and quickly. All communications must be clear and concise, crafted in a way which most people can understand. The ICC is the authoritative voice about the ICC.
  2. More vibrant, more human, more engagingThe ICC is an independent and impartial judicial institution, but its website must be more than a filing cabinet for legal decisions. The ICC website needs to provide context and explain the ICC work. Why does the ICC matter? Who has it helped and how has it affected their lives? Engage the user, listen to them and use each interaction as an opportunity to garner support for the ICC’s mission.
  3. More efficient, more effectiveDo as much as possible with as little as possible. Focus on the irreducible core: ICC does what only ICC can do. Every endeavour must answer a user need and have at least one measure of success, which will be monitored and reviewed over time.
  4. Accessible by everyone, everywhereUsers must be able to access the website on “four screens” – laptop/PC, tablet, mobile and IPTV. It must cater for users with limited internet bandwidth and must work for people with disabilities, non-native En/Fr speakers. It must be built to withstand the rapid pace of technological change (ie, be based on web standards).

ICC Alpha – Discovery phase round up

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been examining who uses the ICC website, how they use it and what they need from a new ICC website. We’ve used three main techniques:

1. Data from web analytics – Helps to understand users, uncover usage patterns, see most popular content and use search logs to see what people are looking for.
2. Web survey – Over 400 people answered the website survey in the last few weeks.
3. Telephone interviews – We have conducted interviews with users from the different audiences from around the world including the general public, journalists, NGOs, academics, lawyers and diplomats.

We’ve also talked to representatives of the ICC organs and other stakeholders about what they need from the website.

All this work (which will be available here in the coming weeks) will guide and shape the next phase.

We’ll be working in “sprints” building “potentially shippable increments” of the website. That means we start with the most important user needs and we design, build and test something to meet those needs, then we move on to the next sprint and repeat the process for another set of user needs. It’s an exciting and effective way to work on the digital products and we hope it will work well at the ICC.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to comment below or contact the Public Information and Documentation Section.