8 September 2004 2 pm est

Cog redesigns Amnesty International USA

Amnesty International works tirelessly to end needless suffering in the real world. We do the same thing in the virtual world.

With these words, Happy Cog Studios announces its redesign of Amnesty International USA.

In a single-page writeup, we review the problems we found in the site and the ways we solved them. The writeup may be of interest to other designer-developers, particularly those who work on behalf of organizations whose importance and ambition exceeds their budget. For it describes problems common to most large sites and solutions that require more brain cells than cash. For instance:

Amnesty is the definitive resource for people who want to make a difference. But, like many large content sites, Amnesty’s had grown organically and somewhat haphazardly over the years, its architecture dictated by circumstance and internal priorities rather than by an analysis of user needs.

Although the site offered unsurpassed information and support, not everyone who visited could find what they were looking for, reducing participation and diminishing new memberships.

We could not address that problem with a full-on user study, so we solved it by channeling all the site’s content into a commitment-based navigation scheme.

Note that third-party application developers have modified one or two of our inner page templates in order to more easily work the layouts into their pre-existing systems. Any inconsistency you encounter as you drill down through Amnesty International USA is due to said modifications and is temporary.

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