SITE AUDIT: WWW.AMNESTY.ORG.UK

Come to the launch of an extraordinary anthology of poems written by men imprisoned in Guantánamo Bay.

 

Amnesty Annual General Meeting's festivities
National Conference and AGM 2008 Come to this year's conference and celebrate the impact that ordinary people can make around the world.
"Our purpose: We are ordinary people from around the world standing up for humanity and human rights".
 

[I] Introduction

1. The Topic

We have chosen to present the English site of the organization "Amnesty International" (AI). It is a well-known nongovernmental association which is actively present in many countries all over the world. It was created in July 1961 by Peter Benenson, a lawyer. First funded to protect prisoners of conscience and their families against torture and ill-treatment and to speed up their release, Amnesty International quickly focused people's attention on other issues. It currently attempts to fight all Human Rights violations, either against individuals or against minorities and nations. The causes it defends and promotes are numerous: women’s and children’s rights, rights for refugees and prisoners of conscience, ending torture and executions, halting the proliferation of armed conflicts…

 

The organization intends to be independent and impartial – its funding only depends on contributions by members – which improves its credibility and enables successful international actions. Amnesty International is held in high esteem in current opinion, and international organisms like the UN, UNESCO or the Council of Europe seek advice from it. Its supporters and subscribers are around 1.8 million in the world, distributed over 150 countries. A majority of its members are volunteers.

The site of the association for Britain targets either adherents or interested people. It is a tool for developing information and the mobilization of public opinion. The site is divided into two main parts: “What we do” and “What you can do”. Using several supports, it briefly presents the association and its objectives as well as specific campaigns and events. It also contains information concerning specific actions sympathizers can undertake: online petitions, shopping, donations, joining the local section…

2. Topicality – context

Amnesty International is one of the most important and active associations for the promotion of Human Rights. It is well perceived throughout the world, despite the fact that some governments or the Catholic Church have criticized it by because of some of its ideas. The promotion of Human Rights is sadly still topical. Some current campaigns of the association concern human rights in China, democracy in Burma, violence against women…

It is to be noted that other international nongovernmental associations also promote Human Rights: Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, Anti-Slavery International, International Freedom of Expression Exchange, World Organization against Torture…

3. Why we chose this Web review

We thought that this Website gave an interesting angle on international news. Focusing on Human Rights gives a deeper human dimension to geopolitics and enables another level of analysis. The site and the association target a wide public and have a huge international impact as well as a wide range of action in the world.

 

II] Inventory

1. Form: Design and functionality

The home page is rich in textual content. There is plenty of information all over the webpage, which is however not hierarchized. The marginal contents are highlighted by several backgrounds in flashy colours (yellow, green and pink), so much so that every information has the same visibility on the home page.

Moreover, this confers on the website a global effect of brightness which contrasts with the difficult topic of unrespected human rights. We can also see dark silhouettes rising from the depths of the screen. As in a virtual demonstration, they are carrying banners and are mooving, disturbing the navigation on the website so that we have to pay attention to them. The typography on the banners is also in bright colours, but on a black background, which further reinforces the feeling of contrast.

From the point of view of the functionality, the content of the home page seems to have been created for very current users. Many topics such as the revolt of the Burmese monks or the Olympics games in China can be found.

However, all this information is grouped by theme on a frame at the top of the screen. Consequently, someone who arriveson the website for the first time can access the subject he is interested with very easily .

Moreover, another access called "quick link" exists for people who know exactly what they are looking for.

2. Contents

In a first link called "what we do", complete information concerning the organization and their campaigns can be reached. It is presented either by theme or by region. For instance, if you click on the region sublink and choose one of them, you learn the first things to be done in order to save human rights in this geographical area. You can also read news and be updated on the actions Amnesty is carrying out there.

The second link entitled "what you can do" is meant for the user who wants to be helpful (by making a donation or participating actively in the debates).

In the end, the third and final link, concerns the news and events organized by Amnesty in the United Kingdom.

III] Presentation

1. Positive aspects:

AI's internet site is clear and well-organized. Thus, the site's strong point is its clarity.

The graphics are square and linear.

Many images make the site attractive and interactive. The browsing headings are clearly formulated. They enable the net surfer to easily locate the information he is looking for.

The banner page is well illustrated thanks to some photographs. These photographs clearly reveal AI's actions. The site contains many photos and videos.

A photos diaporama recalls AI's actions in a clear and fast way. The quality of the photos is good. They are expressive, moving, and sometimes alarming. A good example is the arrests in Myanmar....

The photos represent many soldiers facing army trucks arresting citizens with speakers.

The « files » heading is classified into several criteria: the most recent articles, some articles dealing with specific areas, and some classified by topics.

What makes the search for information much easier and faster? Clicking on a title, in the « campaigns » heading, directly leads to a page displaying a photo and a short text, still clearly linked to the subject.

The articles can be sent by e-mail or printed directly.

The main photo on the banner page changes very often.

The « good news » heading enables to reach some recent positive information, labelled in the AI spirit, like for example the abolition of the death penalty in Rwanda.

2. Negative aspects

There are large white unused spaces on the right and the left of the screen.

The filed articles are not completed with illustrations. There are no image archives.

It would be interesting to create a photographic archive of AI's actions which would make the understanding of their actions more direct and obvious.

Captions or explanations are sometimes lacking. Currently, they are only useful to illustrate the article but the link between the photograph and the text is not always obvious.

There are not enough videos and those presented are not always very good.

IV] Forms/Contents

This site fulfills many quality requirements…

1. Positive aspects

The site displays AI's actions and its ambitions throughout the world. The informative contents occupy a colossal space within the site. The informative contents are very often updated, almost daily. This confers credibility on the site and proves its reliability.

The translations in many languages reveal AI's international claims. The site can be consulted in French, English and Spanish, but also in Arabic and Russian, for a few articles and headings.

The « files » heading is easy to use, precise and very well-documented.

The site perfectly presents the world dimension of AI. It displays the different features of the organization: the goals, the voluntary help, as well as the possibility of adhesion, to make a gift and it encourages action.

Thus, the site references all the fields covered by AI. Everything is summed up in a serious and clear way.

The complete annual reports of AI may all be consulted. They are easy to read and very well presented.

The « act » heading is richly illustrated with many photographs showing AI's actions within the framework of which the Net surfer can commit himself.

Making a gift on line is possible. It is necessary to fill a form on the site and to send it by e-mail.

2. Negative aspects

The « campaigns » heading is a little bit too intricate. It presents the main concrete actions of AI which are taking place currently. Nine articles are extant:

- Stop violence against the women

- Weapons controls

- Campaign against torture

- Death penalty

- Human poverty and human rights

- Refugees

- Children soldiers

- International justice.

There are too many articles and reading them all is rather hard. It would be more judicious to present only one article per week, then change it every week, which could enable a more focused reading experience

The articles' authors are not always mentioned. The sources of the texts are sometimes omitted (Are they extracted from the press? Are they volunteers' reports?)

The links to other sites are rare, except to AI's sites in other languages and some concerning humans rights

V] VERDICT

1. Should it be repaired?

This original website could be enhanced on many points.

First, there is a lack of “advertising tickers” (I mean: little strips which move at the top of the webpage) and then the web-site is a bit monotonous. Thus, the website might be made more attractive.

Secondly, concerning the marketing strategy of this website, the main colour used is surprising: if our eyes are certainly drowned in “flashy pink”, we get the impression that the articles are not really “serious” (because of this original colour), especially when they are addressing the issues of war or torture!

2. Should it be improved?

Many things might be improved too: firstly the same main page remains unchanged for several days, which is a bit of a pity; it is not like a classical “on-line newspaper” which changes its headlines every day or even every two hours. For instance, I have seen the article: “Burma: Amnesty calls for international arms embargo” continuously for week, which is a bit boring and one consequently soon loses the wish to frequently revisit the Amnesty website.

Then, the news is in short format (as though it were breaking news) and one would sometimes like to find more substance.

3. Should it be dumped?

The web-site www.amnesty.org.uk has probably not much visibility or credibility for someone searching for news, or articles concerning current events. Because in fact, Amnesty is an association, moreover a “humanitarian” association, so one doesn’t necessarily think about amnesty.org when setting out to build a press review, for instance, and that is why it might be dumped from periwork.com.

We may wonder if the articles are really objective too, because of the function and the goals of Amnesty: arousing public opinion and “shocking” the media, in order to denounce horror and torture all over the world. Amnesty indeed seeks to draw our attention to current and problematic issues. Each article or coverage sollicits our conscience but there is sometimes a lack of details, a lack of political analysis and too many facts. It is not like a “usual” on-line newspaper. To sum up my ideas, I somewhat regret the lack of political analysis concerning the events covered and the real selection of information: only the events with a “humanitarian” face are addressed, and it seems to me that political decisions are not debated enough.

Final conclusion: Should it be retained?

Amnesty.org.uk is certainly not the best information source or research auxiliary for a student in political science, which is why we may tend to think that it is not worth placing this website on www.periwork.com. Nevertheless, it is a “duty” to go on amnesty.org and see what is happening in the world, without censorship and with a human-interest focus. Indeed, the global marketing of the website reflects the very nature of the association: discreet but efficient, the aim being “simply” to help those who cannot speak, those who are suffering in silence. In addition, Amnesty.org is not one of those websites which may be criticized for being excessive and aggressive.