Design by Country

2010 July 9
tags: ,
by Leah Yale Potter
One of four web designs for

One of four web designs for

Today is the last day to vote on the National Archive’s redesign of  In an effort to create “a web site that is truly of, by, and for the people” NARA has hired Ideascale, a for-profit crowd-sourcing company whose tools are also being used by  the White House’s Open.Gov Initiative.

According to NARA, the web site redesign was based, in part, from search and survey data, including a Google analysis of common keywords.  The top five from 2009-10—records, army, killed, vol, and vietnam—indicate the grim nature of research being conducted by many Archive users.  All four proposed designs recognize this somber function by giving Veteran’s Service Records pride of place on the main navigation bar.  NARA’s Teacher Resources also share top billing which hopefully means that the full redesign will also include improvements to the current, and rather cluttered, layout of the existing section for teachers and educators.

In order to vote, you do have to register, and it’s not entirely clear whether you are voting on other comments or the designs themselves (maybe Ideascale should consider crowd-sourcing how to improve crowd-sourcing).  Despite the redundancy and contradictions reflected in many of the comments on the four designs, the conversation suggests both the value and limits of democratizing design.

Last 5 posts by Leah Yale Potter

1 Comment
2010 July 10
Josh Brown permalink

. . . or does it, unfortunately, demonstrate the political utility of crowd-sourcing, social media-driven design: shielding designers from taking responsibility for a design concept while serving as a cover of deniability for NARA and other such agencies. In the name of accountability, does such a “process” of design end up ducking it?

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