The World Bank Group : Relating to youth
Mature commitment to engaging with young people involves writing about chosen topics in a more direct and challenging ‘voice’.
World Bank is a ‘specialized agency’ of the United Nations that provides development assistance and funding to country governments in the developing world. As well as lots of information about its work and projects, the Bank’s website has ‘resources’ sections for eight target groups.
One of these is “Youth”, and clicking the link from the home page leads to a Youthink! ‘minisite’ that uses design elements (such as colour and layout template) and written style to give a ‘feel’ to the section distinct from the rest of the web presence. Information about the Bank and development topics is not replicated from elsewhere and content seeks to personalise issues. For example, the introduction for a feature on HIV/AIDS challenges visitors to “dare to make [your peers] aware that this disease is everywhere”. Related content includes a “gallery” of eight awareness-raising posters created by participants at a Global Youth Leaders Conference.
While the UN has designated today (12 August) as International Youth Day, its development agency shows an unusually mature commitment to engaging with young people year-round.
Unlike many large organisations, it is too wise to try the ‘old swinger’ trick of resorting to trendy graphics and ‘lifestyle’ features to give itself a superficial ‘coolness’. Equally, it realises that simply selecting messages and re-presenting material from around the site under a ‘youth’ banner is unlikely to meet its objective of stimulating young people to think and take action individually. Instead, it produces new content about its chosen topics written in a more direct and challenging ‘voice’. When it uses visual material, such as the poster gallery, it is to support the issues rather than add some youthful ‘wallpaper’.
By knowing what it wants to say to young people and working out to how to use the site to say it the Bank is able to ‘sell’ itself and the issues it addresses in a way that relates to young people – and that they can relate to.http://www.worldbank.org
First published on 12 August, 2004