15 June 2009

Update Your Links: UNHCR's New Web Site

As promised in this earlier post, UNHCR has re-launched its web site in advance of World Refugee Day on June 20th. The content seems pretty much the same. What's new is the wholescale adoption of social media. Pages can be bookmarked using Delicious, Diggit, Facebook, Google, Reddit, and Stumbleupon; RSS feeds are available for most every document collection and news stream; and greater visibility is given to UNHCR's use of social networks including Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, and Flickr.

I took some time to explore the site in order to update the links in my research guide to UNHCR content. (No re-directs!) The old site was definitely getting cluttered and the new site has streamlined and re-organized sections in a way that promotes more intuitive browsing. The search engine is fast and I was able to find everything I needed to link to; happily, it does not attempt to "guess" what you want to search for, as the old search feature did, by automatically filling in terms as you type.

While this design definitely places a more explicit emphasis on raising awareness - and ultimately funds - than in the past, the site is still content-rich. And given the number of RSS feeds now available for helping visitors keep up with new document additions, it seems likely that UNHCR will continue to make its information resources readily accessible.

On this point, though, I would recommend that all RSS feeds be gathered together on one page to make it easier for visitors to know exactly what update options the web site offers - see Brookings' RSS feeds page for a good model (feeds are organized by "general," "topics," "experts," "programs," "centers," "projects," and "series").

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