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‘No Job Too Big’ for Shift Designers

9 February 2005

Encyclopedia Project Proves There is ‘No Job Too Big’ for Shift Designers

Wellington, New Zealand – February 9th, 2005 Shift is proud to be behind the launch of Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Working alongside the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Shift has developed the design and user experience for New Zealand’s first exclusively online encyclopedia. Te Ara was officially launched on Tuesday 8th February by Prime Minister Helen Clark at Te Papa’s Soundings Theatre.

Te Ara is set to become the first port of call for reliable information about New Zealand’s peoples, land, culture, history and identity. Described as New Zealand’s first online cultural institution, the development of Te Ara represents an extraordinary artistic and technical design achievement for Shift.

The scale and magnitude of Te Ara’s 10-year development plan is truly ambitious. Te Ara will ultimately contain over two million words of text and more than 20,000 different images and media objects, with much of the site’s content written in both Maori and English languages.

In addition to the newly written content, the initial launch of the website also includes the complete contents of the three volume reference entitled ‘An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966’.

To accommodate this vast amount of content, Te Ara’s colourful and engaging visual design is built on a foundation of modern technologies and web design techniques. Cascading Style Sheets and XML are used extensively to ensure that the visual design and content of the Encyclopedia are separated.

This approach enabled Shift’s designers to create the site’s visual interfaces without impeding the ability of Te Ara’s editorial team to update and maintain the content.

Already recognised as a leader in the marketplace for e-government and standards compliant website development, Te Ara further demonstrates Shift’s expertise in providing solutions to the largest and most complex types of web challenges.

“With Te Ara we wanted to prove that a large-scale standards based site could be both beautiful to look at and easy to use“, says Shift’s Creative Director, Brian Smith.

Te Ara was designed from the outset with ease-of-use in mind. Shift’s design for the Encyclopedia provides multiple navigation paths to all of the site’s information, images and media.

To ensure the site’s usability, Shift conducted user research at a number of high schools and primary schools, including Te Kura Kaupapa Maori schools. “We used a card sorting process and focus groups with the kids to understand how they would approach the wide array of information available to them in Te Ara.” says project manager, Nina Spence.

Shift is proud to have played a leading role in the development of Te Ara and would like to congratulate The Ministry for Culture and Heritage, technical development partner Optimation NZ Ltd, the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre and brand agency DesignWorks Enterprise IG for their excellent work on this project. Te Ara is online at -


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