Giving UNISDR a face-lift

In late September 2010, I started working with UNISDR, the strategic arm of the United Nations Secretariat that works on disaster risk reduction. One of the specific tasks I was given was to redesign and redevelopment the organization’s corporate website. The idea had been floating around the organization for a few years. It wasn’t an easy task since the organization had been using five different websites with variations in design and content for over five years, like the Africa page below. One of the main questions from management was how to improve the visual qualities of the website while making sure that the website was featuring UNISDR’s work in reducing disaster risks around the world.

The old UNISDR website

Leading a team that included a graphic designer in California, a CSS expert in Italy, and UNISDR’s in-house information architect, programmers and IT specialists, we managed to pull-off a completely new look and feel for the organization’s website in just over 6 months. The website is mixed with static content (i.e. page descriptions) provided by different departments, and dynamic features (i.e. publication lists, news, country profiles) generated from the organization’s proprietary content management system.

Putting together the technical aspects of the website was a straightforward process. All it really required was focused attention and follow-up with staff members and management to get people to contribute to and “buy-in” to the process of the redesign. We even recently developed, and which will be online soon, a nice feature to allow access and control by UNISDR’s offices around the world to update their own sections with content. The real work is making sure that content on the website is updated… and that’s more of a strategic communications issue – something I will be writing about in the future.

You can check out UNISDR’s new website here.

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