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Today I'm excited to give you a glimpse into our future! As James Wood recently wrote, we have been working on a new website that makes it tremendously easier to find information and take action on issues important to you. I also shared the vision we have for this new site.

The big news is this: we have now released an "early beta" version of the new site that shows the overall design direction and look-and-feel. It is important to note: Most of the site is INCOMPLETE. Most links will not work and many pages are missing.

The feedback we seek right now includes the questions:

  • Does the overall design work for you in your region?
  • Do you have any comments about what you see so far?

Many technical aspects of the site will be changing as will much of the content. With that in mind, here it is:

https://beta.internetsociety.org/

You can view the site on either your desktop/laptop or on mobile devices. 

As you can see, the new site is very different from today's site. Our goal is to make it simpler, easier-to-use and more action-oriented. Beyond the home page, here are a few other pages to explore to get a sense of where we are going:

  • the news page - and the various articles. I'll write more in a future post about where we are going with "news" in the new site.
  • the Asia Pacific Regional page. This was an example of a "region" that we built. We still need to work with our Asia Pacific Regional Bureau to update the content... so ignore the specific content and look more at how it is organized.
  • the "About the Internet" page. This is an example of the type of "special" page that will be possible in the new site.
  • the "About the Internet Society" page. This is where many of the pieces of information that were previously found in some of the menus will now be found. You get to this page from a link in the footer.

There are a few other pages on the beta site right now that you can find through your exploration. We will be developing "in the open" from this point forward, and will be updating this beta site periodically with both new designs and content.

Providing Your Feedback

With this beta launch, we are also providing a public mechanism for you to leave your comments. We have opened up a Github repository where we are asking people to use the "issue tracker" to leave comments:

https://github.com/InternetSociety/beta-site-feedback

This provides a public, transparent mechanism where anyone can leave comments, respond to other comments - and see how we are responding to various comments.

We welcome you to leave your feedback there. It does require that you have a Github account (you can create a free account), but the advantage is that it is an easy-to-use issue tracker on a site where many people already have accounts. I and another colleague will be the primary ones responding to feedback, but our development team will also be able to easily read the feedback. If you do not wish to create a Github account, you can also send me email, but I would prefer comments be left in the issue tracker.

Known Issues

As noted above, this is an "early beta" of the site. In fact, you might say it is a "very early beta" or even an "alpha" version. There are many known issues, including:

  • Most links do not work.
  • Many more pages need to be added.
  • The URL structure will change.
  • The items in the menus will change slightly as we adjust them.
  • Images have not yet been optimized for low-bandwidth connections.
  • The mobile interfaces need further development.
  • Accessibility testing has not yet been performed.
  • Social media sharing icons do not yet appear on the left side of pages.
  • The filtering function on the news page is not yet implemented.
  • The search function is not yet implemented.

Our main goal right now is to give you an initial view of where we are going with the site and to get any initial feedback.

Future Beta Periods

Over the next weeks and months we will be creating the new content and migrating content from the existing Internet Society website. There will be additional points at which we will be seeking feedback, including:

  • ACCESSIBILITY TESTING - our site is planned to meet WCAG 2.0 AA accessibility guidelines. When ready, we will be seeking testing/feedback on the work we have done.
  • BANDWIDTH TESTING - we are targeting the site to work over mobile devices on 3G connections. At a point in the development we will be seeking people to help us test how well it works on lower-bandwidth connections.
  • MULTILINGUAL TESTING - later in July or August we will be bringing on the French and Spanish versions of the site. We will be seeking feedback from the community about how well those versions work in their regions.

We will provide updates when specific feedback is requested.

Continuing The Journey

With this beta site online, we now begin the challenging work of creating the new content, migrating content from the current site, and determining what to do with some of the content we choose not to migrate. My next few months will be spent with an enormous spreadsheet and working with our great team to make this a reality.

Being who I am, I will also be writing about this journey over the weeks and months ahead. Look for future blog posts from me explaining why we are making some of the changes; what some of the important new features are; what choice we made for our content management system (CMS) - and why; and so much more. I want to share more with you so that you can understand where we are going - and so that you can provide your feedback about what we are doing.

Watch for those blog posts - and join us in the journey to our new website!

Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

Comments

Dan, I just viewed the beta - on my desktop and mobile devices. Looks like you're using a responsive design, and so the navigation and content is very clear on either device. Kudos to the design team. I'm looking forward to the ongoing updates. The editorial substance of the site has always reflected the passion of the membership. That said, I appreciate the usability improvements -- fyi, my first Web experience was using Lynx back in 1992. We have come a long way since then...
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