openDemocracy launches site re-design

openDemocracy Opendemocracy
13 March 2009

What are we looking for?

The oD site has expanded rapidly over the last few years and the challenge is now to enhance the look and feel at the same time as increasing navigability to our archive of more than 4,000 articles.

We also want to increase our - already large - readership, and encourage more one-time visitors to keep reading. And...keep up with all the best media delivery technology.

Every website design brings its own challenges and complexities and oD is no different.

Planning and discussion is already well underway with a large rebuild team drawn from within openDemocracy, and smaller working groups for dedicated areas, such as the Front page, Author management, Content migration, Identity issues and many others. 

How you can help

The first task we're looking for help and ideas on is broad design and functionality for the common areas of every page on the site.

You can get background and some basic site design specs here:


If you want to help, here is what we are looking for:

> People with a good design and user interface sense who can use photoshop to "skin" designs and who understand what we're trying to do.

Send us some of your ideas based on these, and if we like what you do, we'll invite you to be the lead designer on the project.

There will be a small budget to pay you, and your work will get recognition on a highly visited website.

> People with CSS skills to turn designs into pages

> People with PHP and Drupal coding skills to help with the content management system make-over.

In the first instance, please write to us at: [email protected]


Navigation - a big issue 

An example of the many tasks in our redesign is the development of a uniform, site-wide navigation structure, one that will effectively bridge and unite the various sections and sub-sites of the oD network while making it easier for viewers to find their way around our diverse and vast content.

Below are some thoughts on the subject from our Editor-in-Chief, Tony Curzon

One of my current favourite "nav(igation) bars" is this from the Financial Times:

(They have not yet rolled it out site-wide. Don't know why not). It packs a lot into a navigation bar: an advertisement, a clear brand, 12 pointers that change almost daily to highlighted content, a search function and some section-based navigation (UK, World, Companies etc).

One of the realisations from looking at reader stats on a web site is that every page is a front page. Many readers come straight into an article that has somehow come to their attention. So the common nav bar has to carry branding, enticement and the "voice from the centre".

Here is the Guardian's nav bar once you are on Comment Is Free:

It feels 'spacier' than the FT, although it takes up no more screen-space. Must be all that white, unused area. I've always liked the multi-coloured menu, and it's all quite functional. But I am not drawn in as I am to the FT site. There is no editorial highlighting of material integrated to the nav bar.

Similar, functionalist style is available from Politico:

It has some advanced search features available straight-off, without going into an advanced search page. But maybe Google's search minimalism has made us such search-potatoes that we don't really bother with advanced search features much anyway.

The London Spectator's nav is pretty mainstream:

The small "Coffee House" rectangle in the top right is surprisingly successful, I think. It cycles through material on the main blog but isn't too annoying or obtrusive.

Finally, it's worth noting the truly great Arts and Letters Daily which stands in a sort of classical splendour, having taken none of this newfangledness on board. And it remains a remarkably effective and efficient website:





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