New Product Launch: Inter-American Development Bank


Not all projects have the potential to make you feel like you’re making a difference in this world, but after 18 months of blood, sweat and tears alongside my design and branding cohorts at studio analogous, I’m proud to announce the launch of the new Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

With a very limited understanding of the IDB mission at the beginning of the project, I came to understand the profound nature of their day-to-day mission rather quickly. In their own words:

We work to improve lives in Latin America and the Caribbean.

“Improved lives” is the result of operational projects that come in all shapes and forms, funded multilaterally by member countries throughout the world. Essentially, the IDB pinpoints localized projects, and funding is provided to manage green-lit projects through to completion.

In order for the website to present a sophisticated, yet simple interface to mimic such a direct mission within the context of more than 2,000 employees in 48 countries, our focus began by centering on the core needs of a handful of key design personas. In the end, our process narrowed the primary focus of the site to highly related information objects, which formed the basis for the topical navigation:

  • Projects – procurement opportunities, portfolio presentation, mapping
  • Countries – projects, people on the ground, statistics
  • Sectors – OECD standardized, projects, data, strategy
  • Data: – data via indicators & countries, dynamic presentations
  • Publications – bundled research, organizational attributes

Once we synthesized the requirements for each section, we were able to employ a shallow and narrow navigation system, as well as a flexible patten for sectional navigation, which we used in different areas of the site to allow for deep dives without losing key task context. The most complex area was the Project section, as the previous site had numerous single database search interfaces spread throughout. Our solution involved a persistent navigation devise to allow for instant browse and specific project-object related queries


In building out our design pattern library, we sketched the templates for each section to present similar navigation metaphors, information modules, and eventually, visual patterns wherever possible. Examples include:

  • the use of the hero area to introduce stories, campaigns and provide multiple paths into pertinent information
  • page modules that introduce country and sector narratives through the presentation of data and statistics
  • navigation that remain as flat as possible, while being smart in pertinent areas


While the corporate site isn’t a strong candidate for a heavily infused social layer focusing on comments and sharing, IDB has a growing community of domain experts posting to a separate blog presence regarding sector-based work in Latin America and using twitter and Facebook to spread the good word of their work and connect with interested folk in the region. We felt it was important to share those voices both on the homepage and throughout the site when post attributes overlapped with sectional attributes.


It’s far too early to know if the redesign has impacted usability, traffic and the underlying ROI. If/when that feedback comes in, I’ll follow up with a post along those lines.


For more insight into this project and my process, feel free to reach out to me at spcoon{at}gmail{dot}com

The Crossroads of Hip Hop


Dr. Walter Greason: […] “Hip hop—the only social force to create an equitable, participatory, democratic, and global system of politics and economics over the last three decades—will vanish into history under a fascist backlash, consume the soul of our generation with consumerism, or evolve to inspire greater intelligence, creativity, and faith among ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren.

The crossroads we face is no less than the choice about the direction of our species and our planet. This essay hopes to open a conversation about the tools of culture hip hop may provide for our uplift and empowerment.” […]

wednesday is sundae


i met this girl years ago
bumped into her on the back leg of my three mile jog
the one i ran each day after getting home from the multimedia factory
you know, the place where i made the pixels dance and scream
the first mile was always a bit of a mind game
as the road would rise and dip ever so slightly
creating mirages of end states
i’d convince myself that if i could just get to the horizon line of the rise
the dip would easily carry me forward
and it did
mile two cut directly through the heart of the suburbs
as my shins began to burn, the run became a game of dodge
with low branches jetting out from behind untrimmed hedges
and dogs on long leashes challenging their slack
i’d hop over the cracks in the uneven sidewalk
making sure that i devoured at least one and a half per stride
it was how i kept my gate
narrowed my focus
as mile three began
and i made it to the edge of downtown
the rhythm just seemed to kick in
on cue, cube queued up in my headphones
bringing a good day to my today
my breathing was correct
my perspective was cubist
my self was in tune
so i’d tune out the real
pump my arms and knees
and sprint the last leg home
finishing off my circuit with an exclamation point *

* the first time i broke stride
removing myself from the sticky summer heat
to enter the hum of an air conditioned store
i did so to ask for a cup of that ice cold water i remembered
the water poured from a jug kept in a stainless steel fridge
resting behind the front counter with all those bins of flavored goodness
it was like magic
freezing cold water that somehow cured brain freeze

by the time she asked me what i wanted
a sip is all i asked for…

that made her smile

Digital Activism 101

Charis Tsevis
Illustration by Charis Tsevis

Al Gore from:
The Assault On Reason

[…] “Fortunately, the Internet has the potential to revitalize the role played by the people in our constitutional framework. It has extremely low entry barriers for individuals. It is the most interactive medium in history and the one with the greatest potential for connecting individuals to one another and to a universe of knowledge. It’s a platform for pursuing the truth, and the decentralized creation and distribution of ideas, in the same way that markets are a decentralized mechanism for the creation and distribution of goods and services.

It’s a platform, in other words, for reason.

But the Internet must be developed and protected, in the same way we develop and protect markets—through the establishment of fair rules of engagement and the exercise of the rule of law. The same ferocity that our Founders devoted to protect the freedom and independence of the press is now appropriate for our defense of the freedom of the Internet.

The stakes are the same: the survival of our Republic.

We must ensure that the Internet remains open and accessible to all citizens without any limitation on the ability of individuals to choose the content they wish regardless of the Internet service provider they use to connect to the Web. We cannot take this future for granted. We must be prepared to fight for it, because of the threat of corporate consolidation and control over the Internet marketplace of ideas.” […]

Divide And Conquer

The reporter didn’t correct himself, forgetting to mention that the wall that Banksy addressed actually divides Palestine from itself *not* just Israel from Palestine.

The Palestinian population and its leadership are essentially unanimous in opposing the barrier. A significant number of Palestinians have been separated from their own farmlands or their places of work or study, and many more will be separated as the barriers near Jerusalem are completed. Furthermore, because of its planned route as published by the Israeli government, the barrier is perceived as a plan to confine the Palestinian population to specific areas.They state that Palestinian institutions in Abu Dis will be prevented from providing services to residents in the East Jerusalem suburbs, and that a 10-minute walk has become a 3-hour drive in order to reach a gate, to go (if allowed) through a crowded military checkpoint, and drive back to the destination on the other side.

In any event, Banksy went to town with his unique style:


He followed up the street art with a more traditional painting of Jesus & Mary unable to get to Bethlehem because of the Israeli wall:


A Perspective On Tragedy And Hope

(originally uploaded by LeggNet)

On Dying In Virginia
The Black Iris of Jordan

I was kind of shocked and saddened to hear about the shooting in Virginia Tech that has dominated western media in the past 48 hours, especially the Internet. I tend to pay close attention to how such incidents unravel in the media and the public eye. The number 30 was splashed across home pages of the BBC and CNN for quite some time and it’s just one of those things where one cannot help but take a step back and realize how important those 30 lives were. I mean for instance 30 is the new 20 in Iraq; daily bombings and slaughters inspire at least that much.

One could easily cast this aside as another orientalist view of the world: that their lives are worth more than our lives. I mean I’m sure it plays a role, after all, a day after the shooting the “30 dead” headline was replaced with “South Korean gunman,” as if origin mattered; as if this was the opportunity the US was waiting for all along to invade North Korea (because their names sound suspiciously similar). But maybe there’s more to it.

In between hoping the gunman isn’t Arab, there is a common denominator to consider.

There’s something to be said about the storm that breaks the quiet; when tranquility is disturbed and replaced with chaos, which of course inspires fear, confusion and anger.

When you’re used to chaos, more if it is simply nothing new. One becomes accustomed to death. If I turned on the TV to hear that there were no new deaths in Occupied Palestine or Iraq or Darfur, then I would rush to the window to make sure the apocalypse wasn’t being ushered in with falling meteors from the sky.

You get used to certain things.

But then Virginia isn’t Palestine.

Virginia isn’t Iraq.

And yes, an American isn’t a Palestinian, isn’t an Iraqi. If anything, the media makes sure to remind us of that time and time again.

The irony of this I suppose is that if anyone on the face of the Earth right now knows what it means to have innocent life taken from them; to know what it feels to have that tranquility disturbed, if anyone right now knows that feeling, those people are in Iraq and Palestine.

The only difference is hope.

The US seems to have plenty of it. There is always that light at the end of the tunnel; the recovery, the moving on, the getting over the initial shock, the coming to terms with it, coming to grips with it.

Here in the Middle East, hope is as scarce as water these days (i.e. roughly half a century to be more accurate). There is no getting over the shock; there’s just not enough time to recover from loss before another comes along to replace it. There are no recovery stories here. No learning-how-to-move-on tales to be told. Yesterday is today; today is tomorrow.

Hope doesn’t live here anymore.

Maybe there should be a cultural exchange: we could teach Americans a thing or two about how to deal with the shock of loss and maybe they could teach us a thing or two about hope.

Being that they control the world supply of hope: maybe they would be kind enough to just lend us some.

Just for the weekend.

30 is 30, just as 30,000 is 30,000, just as insanity is insanity.

While I fully realize I live in a much more stable world than a majority of human beings on this earth—that the chances of me or my loved ones falling victim to random acts of violence are slim at best—I still feel the need to cling to my sense of hope.

Because for me, that sense of hope isn’t relegated solely to my circle of friends, family and neighbor’s well being—it’s continuously extending outwards to people who deal with depravity and destruction on a daily basis.

This week, it’s extended to my neighbors in Virginia.

Every other week, it seems to bounce between folks caught up in the system at home and folks caught up in the violence around the world, particularly in the Middle-East and Africa.

And I know I’m not alone.

Hopefully, Nas and his neighbors will one day receive a pause from the cycle of violence to breathe in and digest this reality.