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Help! It’s a blank sheet moment…

It’s a classic fantasy. You can start with a blank sheet, your options open, all choices yet unmade, no idea too crazy, no limits except the limits of your own creativity… I refer, naturally, to designing a website (what else?).

Such moments are rare. All too soon, those real world constraints will crowd in, stakeholders will all demand their bits of prime online real estate, technological limits will be reached, decision makers will make decisions for the mix of reasons they always do. But right now, as Tibo already let slip, we are in such a moment – we need a concept for the next generation website (website, what’s that?) of the European Parliament.

HELP! Album cover by the Beatles 1965. (Actually, I recently learnt that they are spelling "LPUS" - apparently it just looked better. The triumph of the graphic designer once again.)

Everything’s on the table. What is our website for? Who is it for? Do we need one website, several, none…? How does a site fit with a wider online strategy? How do we balance the needs of very different user groups? How do we manage multilingualism? What’s important, what’s not? Beauty v. accesibility v. usability v. interest v. interaction v. innovation v. stability v. …?

Looking around, we see cool websites, beautifully designed websites, ultra-Web 2.0 websites, no-nonsense functional websites. How applicable are other people’s models for us? Other parliament websites have great features, intuitive navigation, much to teach us. For example, the UK Parliament recently redesigned, coming up with a nice result which seems to have many features in common with the Irish parliament’s site – was it that way round? (BTW I was also interested to see the UK Parliament’s web team also blogs, a little sporadically, about its work.) But are all these ideas transferable to us? Is it wise to adopt a model which already exists, rather than looking for the next model? Should other parliaments be the last place we look for inspiration?

Help! And I mean that literally. We need help

Help! And I mean that literally. We need help. We need ideas, inspiration, suggestions both great and small. We need gurus, visionaries, ubergeeks, but also sceptics, pragmatists, real people to help us. We are, as they say, in the market for ideas.

This is NOT a call for tender, an invitation to proffer commercial services. C’mon, this is a BLOG – if we go for paid support we will seek it the proper way. No, we just want to hear your views: what would you do with a blank sheet and a brief to make a European Parliament website? Or maybe you just have that one thing you just hate about the site as it is now and are just desperate to see disappear? We are determined that we won’t end up designing this thing by committee (fine intentions…), but we still want as much input as possible!

We will ask again (and again). But this is the ultimate blank sheet moment – it won’t be back for a while – so if you have something you just have to tell us, now’s the best possible time.

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