Professional criticism: the ICAO Unification Microsite
Let's all take a moment to gather around the warm glow of our monitors and study Wikipedia's insights into the concept of a microsite.
Now let's study the ICAO Unification Microsite. You don't have to click away, I'll give you a screenshot:
What exactly is wrong here? There are both technical and semiotic issues at play in their use of the word "Microsite" and how they've deployed it on this page. The quote "I do not think that word means what you think it means" comes ot mind as you scroll around.
I don't claim to be a hugely skilled web designer, despite having built a couple of websites from scratch, but you would think introductory text of some nature would appear. Instead you see a map of Canada that doesn't do much to support the idea of "Unification" by making Ontario pop out with a golden glow, followed by a rack of size links, four very short news clips, and two "upcoming events". Compare this to a list of well-designed sites and your shoulders sort of slouch with despair. What happened here?
If we continue by playing along with Wikipedia's definition, you would expect to see a custom domain or subdomain. There is no such thing as "http://unification.icao.on.ca", or "http://www.OntarioCAUnification.ca" so they really aren't trying very hard to stand out. Of course, web optimization isn't really the ICAO's strong suit. I mean, google for them and the other ICAO is the one that pops up first.
The calendar of events is best avoided. There are only 4 of them left. Hopefully that'll fill up between now and the June vote, but it does look rather sad.
The last technical point is more nitpicky, but it matters: whoever designed that page clearly phoned it in. Look at the top of the page.
See how it says "Uniting the Accounting Profession"?
That's not all it says.
Drift further to the right and note that they were too lazy to remove "Page Title" when they designed the site. Consider the thousands of dollars the ICAO collects from each of its members, you would think they would make sure they're getting a quality product.
Of course, if you're using a "modern" browser that hides the title bar, you wouldn't even notice that. I'll suspect that someone at the ICAO may have opened the page in Chrome or IE9, and not even have noticed that "Page Title" phrase.
It gets deeper
In a semiotic sense, using the term "Microsite" brings forth the connotations of the word "Micro" which are completely out of place. Even if it were technically correct to call the page a Microsite, would you want your visitors to think of it in that manner? This is an issue that touches upon years of education and professional experience, and a "Micro-anything" is being used to "bust" the "myths" that you may have heard?
The tone comes across as either dismissive or combative, especially in the body language you see in some of the videos. It's amusing to see the Myth Busters
section, which is a nice idea, being filmed in what looks like various rooms at the ICAO headquarters, but its insistence on making you sit through
the video is pretty brutal. People in a rush don't want to spend half an
hour digging through clips. Share the transcripts so people can quickly
read along. In terms of accessibility, it doesn't help those with
hearing disabilities. And in terms of communicating your message, you
keep staring at the message while someone is speaking to the
counterargument. How is this an effective approach to countering the
For example, look at the "This is 2004" clip, which shows "This is 2004 all over again."
I don't see why the third point, 'now we have CPAB' has any effect as
they sort of run otu of time at that point, but I'll let you ponder that
My friends have asked me about my opinion regarding the merger. If you have trouble parsing my view from this commentary it's for a simple reason: I see some of the benefits, but I'm not impressed with the manner in which they're being communicated! Though the site has a very "professional" look to it, there are loose threads sticking out here and there that give you the feeling that things were just a bit rushed and they're sort of scrambling to address the problems that have arisen. We'll see how this unfolds.