DX Award :: No. 10 Downing Street


No. 10 Downing Street is perhaps the best designed government site in the world today. The site was created by the fabulous designers at Oyster Partners (the same people who designed MTV Europe, New Media Age (UK), Arts Alliance, Euroweek, and Janes Defense Weekly).


ARCHIVED DESIGN AWARD PAGE :: 1998 DX AWARDS

This page is republished for historical and archival reasons, highlighting the history of online design and the work of some of the many talented individuals who were instrumental in the early days of online media.


We are honored to select No. 10 Downing Streetas this week’s recipient of the IPPA’s Award for Design Excellence.


No. 10 Downing Street is perhaps the best designed government site in the world today. The site was created by the fabulous designers at Oyster Partners (the same people who designed MTV Europe, New Media Age (UK), Arts Alliance, Euroweek, and Janes Defense Weekly).

The site makes other government sites, including the sometimes acclaimed White House site, look like amateur operations — and indeed they are. A design like No. 10 good sends a clear message that the People matter. Oyster created everything you see — from the architecture to the art. Bottom line: this is simply outstanding information design for the Web. Given the traditionally stodgy nature of British Government, this site is absolutely astounding.

Some of you may be wondering if we’ve lost sight of the marketing-oriented focus of the IPPA. This site is about politics, after all, and not commerce. But what is politics if not the marketing of candidates and ideas, rather than products and services? In the end, it is about branding, and No. 10 has the brand to beat in the UK.

There are none of the patronizing links like, “The View from No. 10″ or “As Tony Blair Sees It”. Instead you just have news, news features, interactive discussions, government works, and press releases. Yes, it is all from Tony Blair’s office, so you can expect a bit of a bias, but not as much as you would from another world leader’s site where speeches, personal histories, and the like dominate the navigation bar. In short, this architecture of links is just plain smart.

For added insight, let’s compare No. 10 with Clinton’s White House.

At No. 10 Downing Street, the links read: News Center (includes UK Today, Features), Interact (includes Email News, Live Broadcasts, Open Discussions), Information Centre (includes The Government, Releases), and Inside No. 10 (includes History, Tour, PMs in History).

Now, let’s head “Downtown”, to use the term from the Reagan Years to describe the White House. Ignore the flapping flags and kitsch in the design, and just glance down the first few links: The President & Vice President (their accomplishments, their families, and how to send them electronic mail), Commonly Requested Federal Services (direct access to Federal Services), Interactive Citizens’ Handbook (your guide to information about the Federal government), White House History and Tours (Past Presidents and First Families, Art in the President’s House, Tour Information), Site News (recent additions to the site), The Virtual Library (search our site, including an extensive archive of White House documents), The Briefing Room (Today’s releases, hot topics, and the latest Federal statistics)….

The list goes on — but everything at the White House is strictly one way. There is no involvement. It is a place to visit online, perhaps a place to find copies of speeches and some government documents, to read about why you should love Clinton (!) and to serve as a jump-off point to the rest of the USG’s litter of sites. Conversely, No. 10 is a living site that features live webcasting, interactive forums and personally customized e-mail alert services.

This is why No. 10 is such a breath of fresh air online. They thought it through and they actually hired some top flight designers to do it. Ultimately, the vision at No. 10 was to make it not just a People’s resource, but also a People’s exchange, where you come together to discuss, to consider, to read news, and to keep up to date on the happenings in British Government.

And it goes without saying that a site like No. 10 is also a great tool at reelection time for the incumbent PM.

Finally, did we mention fast loading? No. 10 really nails it on this one. The average page sizes are just around 15 KB once you are past the first page, and even there the rather impressive graphic smash they’ve designed is just 40 KB (total page size, all FRAMEs).

Our hat is off to the folks at Oyster Partners. In the end, it is all about the Vision Thing.

Scoring (10 is Maximum):

Graphics Design…….. 8.8

Programming………… 8.5

Content and Copy…… 9.2