JPEG - 54 kb

A rarity for an internet site, our previous format which was introduced in 2002 remained largely the same for nine years. As for the content, we had made a decision not to follow the trend. Experience has shown that our structure was sufficiently robust to withstand the test of time. But, Voltaire Network has significantly evolved over the past nine years and it needed a website that reflected its transformation.

The new format has been created by Raphaël Meyssan (Editorial-Design.org), who tackled the graphic design hand in hand with the in-depth reorganization of the website. Indeed, Voltairenet.org is not merely an online publication. It is also an organizational tool which has allowed Voltaire Network to stand out as a source of alternative information, notwithstanding its meager financial resources as compared with traditional media. With some 60 000 articles, Voltairenet.org is available in eight languages and receives more than 50 000 daily visits from different corners of the world.

An international dimension

Voltaire Network has undergone several changes since its inception, in France in 1994, and website launch three years later. The small press agency which dealt essentially with French politics has grown into a widely recognized information source on international relations and policy issues.

From the outset, our association opted for a network functioning mode and brought together a wealth of expertise, seeking to spotlight individuals and groups who are knowledgeable in a given domain. Thus, as of 2000, our website started featuring articles from publications specialized in France’s African policies, drug prohibition and trafficking, the fight against AIDS and even that against extremism (intolerance, scapegoating, culture of violence).

In 2002, Voltaire Network developed an information site with an international profile. It integrated a press pool grouping some 15 publications, at first in Latin America during 2004-2006, then in the Middle East starting in 2007. Different versions of the website were put on line in various languages. Finally, all these publications in different languages were consolidated within the same site, Voltairenet.org.

However, the website’s international character was smothered by the 2002 model. The language sections were compartmentalized and a French or English reader could hardly know that numerous articles existed also in Spanish or Arabic. The new 2011 format plays up the international dimension. The articles available in other languages are systematically flagged, be it within a section, a theme dossier, on an author’s page or during a search. Under the heading "International edition", an "index" displays all the articles in all languages: on one side, the week’s headlines and, on the other, a comprehensive scroll-down list where the language selection can be narrowed down by simply clicking/unclicking the boxes. It can be found at the bottom of each article thus making navigation easier. In other words, while navigating in one language, one can readily see what has been posted in other languages.

JPEG - 50.1 kb

A subtle graphic design to enhance legibility

We have chosen a soft design to complement articles which deal with controversial international situations. In this way, we hope to offer our readers a quiet interval of reading and reflection in the face of a tumultuous international environment.

This graphic style had already been adopted in 2002. In the current format, we have taken it to a whole new level. The predominant soft beige hue is applied in different shades to highlight and differentiate the various contents. A world map blankets the page, giving the impression of an expanded field of vision, while the titles make better use of the page width.

The print style was elaborated in such a way as to achieve maximum legibility. A zoom function has been built in to render more pleasant the reading of often extremely long articles. It allows not only to enlarge the font size, but also to expand the space of the article by removing the peripheral elements. Moreover, the shades of beige and the images in sepia help to identify the elements on the page without distracting the eye.

Although short, speedily-drafted articles are in vogue, we favor long articles which are well though-out, thoroughly documented and sourced. Journalism schools and communications experts claim that only short texts are suitable for publication on Internet. For many years, our experience has proven the exact opposite.

The place of the author

Our new format focuses special attention on the authors. The name appears directly under the title of the article and a block about the author is right next to the text. It contains a photograph, a short bio, an active list of the author’s most recent articles, a link to all his articles and one for sending him a private message. Finally, a page is dedicated to each author which groups all his articles in the different languages.

Bringing out the value of the author signing the article may seem the obvious thing to do. Nevertheless, it is not a common practice among the majority of information sites where the author’s name appears in small print or is even relegated to the end of the text, hence not readily visible on the screen which only displays the top part of the article. As for the pages that present all the works of an author, they are extremely rare. Such choices follow in the footsteps of a profession which is in fast decline.

Genuine press signatures are increasingly rare, while the menial staff who simply relay the press releases appear to have become the norm. By giving center stage to the authors, Voltaire Network wishes to throw the spotlight on the really competent people. Moreover, the work accomplished by our volunteer translators will allow their articles to be read all over the world.

Putting information in its right context

With our new page design, each text is put in its right context, with a view to building up a dossier on that given subject. Thus, the right-hand column is reserved for the topics in question. Each one contains an illustration or a map, the most recent related articles and, in some cases, a general introduction.

The dossiers deal with themes, but also with countries, personalities, transnational corporations or NGOs. The current Internet practice is to show several HTML tags, either automatically or often in a disorderly and redundant fashion. We made the choice of manually linking an article to key words editorially conceived for that purpose. In this way, little by little we are constituting genuine dossiers.

JPEG - 60.6 kb

Voltaire Network is an adventure that relies on you.

If Voltaire Network offers an alternative information site of value, it is thanks to the work of numerous volunteers and to the support of its readers, who have always responded in the most difficult of times. It is your continued contributions and support that will allow Voltaire Network to pursue this big common adventure.

Send your comments to our new website.