The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ first website was created in 1996 in response to the increasingly widespread use of Internet, and has been succeeded over the years by no less than five editions.
The current edition is an innovative project arising from the need for a full-fledged “portal”, representing the main point of entry into the world of information and services offered by MFA and its diplomatic-consular network.
A modern portal that, along with the over 300 Embassy, Consular and Cultural Institute websites, and the various linked sites (“Cooperazione allo Sviluppo”, “Italia-Cina”, “Dove siamo nel mondo”, etc.) aims to close the gap between citizens and their nation’s foreign policy by illustrating and facilitating user access to the services supplied by “MFANET”, making surfing easy and intuitive thanks to an accurate revision of content with dedicated sections illustrating the MFA’s many and various activities in Italy and around the world.
A major concern was compliance with the regulations regarding accessibility to persons with disabilities, as compliance with the digital administrative code will also be in the future. The portal is not what might be called a “finished product”, having been conceived in such a way as to remain flexible, with a capacity for the continuous enrichment of new content and further innovation over time.
A series of functions (WAP, text message newscasts, and the creation of a “virtual information desk”) are in the works and completion is foreseen within the year.
The planning, publishing and updating of portal content is the responsibility of the Editorial Committee of the Press and Information Service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Each Directorate General makes its contribution to the texts published.
Chief Editor: Giuseppe Scognamiglio
Editorial Committee (firstname.lastname@example.org):
Editorial Coordination: Giuseppe Scognamiglio
Editorial desk: Maria Luisa Bernardini, Cristiana Gasperini, Paola Pentrella
Translations: Darragh Henegan, Marian Dougan
Webmaster (email@example.com): Alberto Caligari, Flavio Pigozzo
Technical and graphic design and realisation: RTI Telecom italia SpA, Engineering Ingegneria Informatica SpA and Elsag Datamat SpA.
This site was created with the collaboration of ANSA news agency, who lent the services of one of their chief editors, Alessandra Spitz, collaborated for a period of one month on the editing and creation of major sections of the portal, and journalist Arrigo Santini, who works full-time on the Editorial Committee.
The portal’s photo archives draws upon the vast archival resources of the ANSA news agency.
An on-line service entitled “Ansa Web News” provides a continuous flow of news throughout the day from 7:00.
The new portal’s graphic look has been radically changed in order to allow a more direct and intuitive approach to the various sections, without sacrificing any of its aesthetic appeal. Colours, texts, images and photos combine to offer an institutional and, at the same time, innovative product without compromising its accessibility to persons with disabilities.
The massive amount of information contained in this new portal has been rearranged by subject matter, updated and made more directly and intuitively useable. A series of search tools allow for the rapid visualisation of the sections or subjects selected.
The portal was created using Web Content Management, Microsoft CMS, which is based on .NET technology and uses Microsoft SqlServer 2000 as a Database.
This solution gives the editorial staff a simple tool by which to create, edit and publish accessible content that fully complies with the Ministry’s security policy.
Software used: Microsoft CMS, Microsoft SqlServer 2000, Microsoft Visual Studio.NET 2003, Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Acrobat Reader.
The main point of reference in creating the portal, both in terms of structural choices as well as methodological approach, was the regulation in force—Law no. 4/2004 (Legge Stanca)—aimed at facilitating access to computer technology by persons with disabilities.
The standards and methodologies of this project respond to the principles suggested by the World Wide Web Consortium in its continuing commitment to research, and the stability criteria of its Web Accessibility Initiative, which recommends rules in matters of content accessibility and disabilities.
The Ministry is also monitored by the CNIPA, which monitors the websites of the Public Administration with regard to technical requirements and the various levels of accessibility to computer technology.
The Home Page was designed and organised both graphically and functionally to give the portal an immediate and innovative look and to facilitate user access to content.
It is divided into four main areas:
the upper part is devoted to Services, to which it was intended to give particular importance; this section gives direct access to information for Italian citizens and foreigners and businesses;
the central menu provides access to the main sections of the site;
on the left-hand side are Highlights on a chosen theme, and an In Detail section featuring subjects of particular topical interest;
the lower section is dedicated to news items, important events and the Minister’s future engagements; the multimedia section is placed in the lower section of the same area and contains audiovisuals and the photo album.
The body the site is divided into six main areas, all directly accessible from the horizontal bar menu.
The Ministry is the section that describes the activities of Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE), how to get there, where it's located and its departments. In this section you can surf the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Enter and discover its history and structure, club and associations. Take a virtual tour of the places where Italian foreign policy is born: the Palazzo della Farnesina and Villa Madama.
The trip covers every aspect of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for a complete idea of how it works.
The section "Enter MFA" contains a detailed description of procedures and prerequisites for job placement exams or to take advantage of opportunities for study or work.
Inside this section is a services area for citizens and businesses with information on visas and permits, opportunities to study and work in Italy and abroad, and business opportunities.
Finally, if you need to contact Italian diplomatic missions abroad, you will find the phone and fax numbers and e-mail addresses of our embassies, consulates, permanent missions, institutes of culture and the offices of scientific attachés worldwide.
The European Union section contains information on Italy’s role within the European Union and traces the path that led from the signing of the Treaties of Rome to the European Convention, covering the joining of new members, common policies and the Intergovernmental Conference.
The section also contains a series of detailed Member and Candidate Country Outlines and, finally, an ample section on common policies, Treaty Reform and European Cooperation Programmes.
The Foreign Policy section is divided into: Geographical Areas, foregrounding the five geographical areas that correspond to the Ministry’s Directorates General (Asia and Antarctica; Africa; Americas; Europe; Mediterranean and Middle East) and is intended to offer a general overview of its activities in those regions, along with in-depth examinations of topics particular to each of them, though links and agreements, understandings, organisations operating on the ground and projects under way.
Policy Areas includes the main issues standing out on the international panorama (Environment, Human Rights, Disarmament, Energy, Fight Against Terrorism), while the section on International Organisations describes the intergovernmental organisations that carry out activities ranging from political–military operations to economic–financial ones, form social development to the humanitarian sector, etc.
The Development Cooperation section treats the activities and competences of its corresponding Directorate General.
Next is a Culture section touching on all the efforts to promote Italian culture and language around the world, while the Economy section treats themes related to economic–financial cooperation.
The Welcome to Italy section contains useful information for anyone wishing to visit Italy for the purposes of tourism, work, investment and study, offering a general overview of our country from historical–cultural, geographic and institutional points of view. In addition each of Italy’s regions is illustrated in brief, with lots of essential information for travellers.
The Italy in the World section aims at providing the approximately 4 million Italian nationals residing abroad a rapid and simple tool, arranged in eight parts that include MFA and diplomatic-consular network efforts on behalf of the Italian communities around the world.
The Press section, dedicated to journalists and other media personnel, offers a selection of links to Italian national newspaper websites, a daily press review containing articles from Italian dailies mainly referring to the Ministry and its international policy, as well as the most significant references to domestic policy and economic issues.
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