Website design

Design Principles
The  website is designed for use by people needing futures information. Through rigorous use of focus groups and analyzing their suggestions we have determined that members want a site that:

  • is fast loading
  • contains no third party advertising
  • has clear, readable text
  • uses frames minimally, if at all
  • has minimal use of pop-ups
  • has a simple, consistent design 
  • fits well with their needs, activities and plans
  • involves minimal trouble or effort
  • allows easy access and fast navigation
  • is multi-lingual

We have adopted these policies using Don't Make Me Think!: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (Krug S., 2005), Universal Principles of Design (Lidwell, Holden, Butler, 2007 and 2010) and Designing for Emotion (Aaron Walter, 2011) to ensure we create the best possible user experience.

The site is designed to be collaborative in nature.  We conduct our own web-scanning to stay abreast of this ever-changing medium.

Content policy

  • we make our strategic messages – and, most important content – visible at a glance, especially in titles, imagery, and tweetable statements
  • we use short Twitter style sentences
  • we favor the use of familiar phrases and words over industry and corporate jargon
  • we avoid passive and use the future tense whenever possible
  • we write copy optimized for search
  • we highlight keywords and use bulleted lists as appropriate
  • we get rid of needless repetition
  • we address our members directly as friends
  • we use links to related topics instead of overcrowding information
  • we avoid content overkill

Reference: The Digital Economy Rewired Your Consumers’ Brains: 10 Tips For Engaging Them Now

Picture Policy
We have a picture policy whereby we choose pictures that are:

  • people orientated
  • future-focused
  • thought provoking
  • international
  • evocative

Visualization tools and foresight methodologies are developed as suggested by our focus groups.  We are following principles set out in Structured Analytic Techniques for Intelligence Analysis (Heuer R. J. & Pherson R.H. 2010).

Design Control
We follow an established and good practice design control process. The process is extended to sub-contractors. During the planning phase for any design changes, we take great care to consider the following:

We consider how the proposed changes will affect other components within the system.  We use best-practice coding techniques to ensure that the service remains stable and reliable at all times.  Thorough testing is carried out in a separate environment prior to changes being made live.

We use object-orientated design principles wherever appropriate and sections of code are made mutually independent wherever possible to make sure that the codebase is as easy to maintain as possible.

A great deal of consideration is given to system security at all stages of the design and planning process. We always utilize the inherent security features of the application and database servers e.g. to ensure that ‘SQL Injection’ attacks are not possible.  Security is monitored and logged on an ongoing basis.  Our development team takes steps to remain abreast of the latest security-related matters.  We make sure that all third-party software is updated and patched in a timely fashion.

Redundant code removal
We make efforts to remove redundant code after a reasonable period (~6 months) to ensure a tidy code-base.  In certain circumstances (e.g. a particularly complex and independent piece of code), old code is removed and archived.

We follow a standard framework when planning for and developing new components, and we follow applicable to web and database standards.

Version control
Changes are controlled through a planned and documented process, to ensure that planned changes are grouped together in the most logical sequence to satisfy client needs in a timely manner.  A backup copy of the previous version is maintained to ensure that a ‘roll-back’ option exists at all times.

Design reviews
There is ongoing communication and liaison process with clients to review the planned changes and discuss any further and related ideas.  Post-put-live, there is an ongoing process for monitoring usage, security, and reliability of new components.

Document management
The changes planning process takes into account which documents (online and off-line) and which communication pieces (e.g. emails) will need to be updated as a result of a planned change.

Appropriate responsibilities are assigned and documented as part of the planning process.

Change records
Records are maintained regarding what system changes are developed when they are tested and when they are put live.