View the full site at www.AnnenbergClassroom.org
This site contains resources for civics education, including videos, online books, and games.
This site has been through a number of redesigns, most of which were unfortunately plagued by the necessity of including too many people with too many opinions in the process (the dreaded “Design By Committee.”) This most recent design was the only one to actually address user experience and the structure of the site, rather than just attempting cosmetic fixes to what were really serious structural problems. It’s definitely been a process of evolution.
Here’s what the site looked like before I was involved in it, circa 2005-2006. There was some sort of weird Java animation happening at the top where that menu would slide back and forth on the rails when a button was clicked, or a sub-menu would pop out from the side, or something. Whatever it was, it was very strange and unnecessary. People liked it though since they thought it was “interactive.”
Here’s the first re-design that I was involved in, circa summer/autumn 2006. Really my first web design project aside from my own site. It’s pretty freaking terrible. This was a nightmare project- there were literally 15 people in endless meetings about this thing, all of whom had very strong opinions about colors and icons. I tried to get them to let me get rid of the stupid book icons but alas, no go. Nobody wanted to talk about how the data was structured in a way that made no sense at all; everyone wanted to talk about what specific color of blue to use. I lacked the confidence and experience at the time to know when to stand my ground and how to convince people to trust me to do my job. Some people missed the “interactivity” and “things happening” provided by the weird sliding menu in the old version, so the logo in the corner was animated in Flash to have the stars/red stripes emerging from the book. (Ugh.)
Another attempt at re-design, circa 2007. Finally settling down into a somewhat sane color palette and attempting to simplify the structure a little bit. People still really wanted something “interesting” to happen on the front page, so those six images at the top are offset rollovers- when the user moused over a smaller box, more information about the topic and a link to more would appear in the larger box to the right. A bit clunky, really.
Redesign circa 2009. This one added a Flash image rotator/menu to the front page and simplified still further.