The new design is, of course, yet another step in ICANN's effort to (ugh) 'rebrand' itself under Paul Twomey's leadership. What follows is a quick redux:
First and foremost, a line of Anglophone names for "other" languages, each of which links to a thin FAQ-ish one-pager (the absence of Chinese is notably, especially given last year's Shanghai meeting). This is sort of the touristic phrasebook equivalent of internationalism: "Dje parlez frankaze." (Hint to ICANN: You can save money on translators if you adopt Europanto. And you kan buf yor Anglofon reputashun for ledership dis wa.)
Second and hilariously comes the "we're here for you!" banner:
- A "Site Index" -- akin to a glossary, a la the proverbial Encyclopedia Sovietica (e.g, "Accreditation Overview (Registrar): ICANN is a technical coordination body. Our primary objective is ensuring the stability...").
- Links to the Public Forum, formerly the Public Comment Forum. But some things never change, for example, the claim on the linked page that the forum "is an experimental interface").
- And a navigation pull-down menu that's actually pretty handy.
A prominent search link (say, unlike ours at ICANN Watch) is always a good thing; but somehow it feels like ICANN is poaching a bit of Google's goodwill by including that logo.
Next of note is the link (in a prominent red that brings Little Red Riding Hood --- or, rather, the wolf -- to mind) "Click here if this is your first time visiting ICANN." New to these woods, are we, dearie? Trust me...
Beyond that, ICANN too has succumbed to the three-column menace of, basically, blog design. All in all, the content remains much the same, which is spot-on. As GeorgeK points up, a little more candor would be in order: say, promptly posting materials that are inconvenient. But, failing that, I suppose there's benefit in making petty corruption more useable.
There are oddities. For example, the ill-advisedly named "Press Corner" (bottom left) which one might think of as serving the needs of professional journalists, leads to a page that currently features as its lead story "TIDDLES AND ROVER TO GET DOMAIN NAMES," PR flak for a way to "register a Web site address for your dog, cat or any other non-human companion." The Public Forum block (center right) sports a "Hot Topics" subhead that must have been a matter of some debate ("But, Vint, Yahoo's 'What's Cool?' link is what put Mirsky out of business!"). And the archives of the central "New and Noteworthy" column are oxymoronically called "New and Noteworthy Archives." Duh.
Overall, though, ICANN's done a decent job. The colors are watery and indecisive, making some text -- white blockheads on a lavender background, pale green headlines on white -- very hard to read. And the bright-red "More..." links in the left column are 'orrible. But the intrepid ICANNauts have tweaked bigger things in the past (problems with Congress, for example). I'm optimistic.
In sum: Change Is Good.