Since its inception as a loose-knit association of investigative journalists, GIJN has grown into the premier global network of watchdog newsrooms and investigative ventures. But until today, our website had remained modest in accounting for the breadth and depth of our activities.
In a year punctuated by milestones — celebrating the organization’s 20th anniversary, the ascent of a new executive director, our largest global conference ever, GIJC23 — we felt it was time to update GIJN’s online presence to reflect our ambitions for years to come.
“Big thanks to our design team,” says GIJN Executive Director David E. Kaplan, “for bringing GIJN into the 21st Century with a cutting-edge website, smart branding, and a format that answers the call for so many of our challenges: publishing in a dozen languages, a Resource Center that indexes over 1,500 items, and a portal that serves as the central hub for investigative journalism around the world.”
For this mission, GIJN contracted Glasgow-based agency Rectangle, run by Lizzie Malcolm and Dan Powers, to imagine a new visual identity and website to serve our multilingual community. Their team specializes in graphic and interaction design, building groundbreaking websites and animated media from all kinds of datasets.
Focused on the Big Picture
GIJN’s new website reflects our growing international community: the multilingual structure is designed to host all of our core languages and highlight translations of our resources done by partner newsrooms in their local language via the Translations Library.
The home page is designed to show visitors the breadth of our daily content — from stories to new resources and topical information such as upcoming conferences, job listings, and our latest videos — as well as entice them to dig deeper into the Resource Center, specific topics of interest, and to interact more with members of our community.
“We worked closely with GIJN to design a new backend structure for the site, thinking carefully about how stories, guides, resources and media should be authored and translated,” says Lizzie Malcolm.
Increasing Access to the Resource Center
“The GIJN Resource Center includes so many carefully written articles and guides. All this material is now more visible on the Resource Center landing pages and there are simple but effective ways to filter and search,” Powers notes. “In particular it was important for us to structure the multi-chapter guides and their translations for easier navigation between chapters and languages.”
More Features for our International Community
While GIJN’s original site provided links to translated materials and grew to host feeds in a dozen languages, we wanted to improve the experience of online visitors and provide more customization for our regional editors. So, Rectangle built new infrastructure that would effectively support our global content.
“It was important to us that the regional homepages had the same editorial capabilities as the Global homepage,” Powers explains. “Regional editors can configure their homepages with stories and resources in their language, and highlight pages and information that is specific to their readers. While the previous site translated articles and important information pages, the new site is fully multilingual and the overall structure and navigation is maintained across languages.”
To demonstrate GIJN’s growing international membership — which now includes 244 members in 90 countries — Rectangle opted for an interactive map, which filters members as you hover over regions and countries. This page will also allow access to those news sites and their work, and we hope, garner support for each of them.
Rectangle will continue to develop the website to showcase all of GIJN’s ongoing projects such as GIJN Advisory Services, the just-released Reporter’s Guide to Investigating War Crimes, our ongoing Cybersecurity and Digital Threats training, as well as new initiatives, in line with the new visual identity.
In addition to the new website, Rectangle also created new branding and logo for GIJN.
“We had a few simple goals for the logo – to make a long organization name more compact, to represent GIJN’s international reach, and to fit in well with the overall site design,” Malcolm says of the logo’s design.
“We quite quickly decided on the typography in the logo, which uses a compact headline version of the beautifully drawn typeface Lyon – that is also used in the headlines and body text of articles on the site,” she explains.
“A globe is such a useful representation of GIJN’s worldwide reach – we worked through quite a few different representations of a globe, and how to represent GIJN’s network upon it. We were keen that wherever possible, the logo could be interactive and animating and not be fixed on one side of the globe,” Powers says.
GIJN’s incoming executive director, Emilia Díaz-Struck, says she is excited at the prospect of launching the new website and branding just as the organization takes the global center stage at GIJC23.
“GIJN’s new image and website capture the essence of the organization,” she says. “Thanks to the months of work by our exceptionally skilled team and Rectangle, we have a powerful design that will allow us to continue serving our global investigative journalism community and generating resources that will help shape the future of global watchdog journalism. This is a great way of celebrating GIJN’s 20th anniversary and the impressive work of investigative journalists around the world!”
As we perfect the website over the coming months, we welcome your input by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please use the subject line “Website Feedback.”
Smaranda Tolosano is a French-Romanian freelance journalist. She has lived and reported in the US, France, Canada, and Morocco. In 2016-17, she covered the last days of France’s largest refugee camp, the “Jungle” in Calais, and is producing a multimedia documentary on the region’s history of international migration and human rights violations. She is an MA candidate at CUNY’s Craig Newmark School of Journalism and speaks five languages. An avid photographer and illustrator, she is passionate about bringing stories to life using visual mediums.