A website that I’ve been working on for over half a year has finally been launched.
The website iPrepNS is for guys who are about to enter National Service in Singapore. It aims to prepare them for their 2 years of National Service.
The website covers 3 main phases –
- pre-enlistment, where there are a whole slew of activities that need to be done even before a boy enters National Service;
- the enlistment day itself, the big day when the boy enters National Service;
- and life as a recruit, the first few months in service.
Probably the most attractive part of the site is the pixel art banner, which unveils some of the memorable moments covered by the website.
Like when a recruit gets his crew cut.
It adds a touch of humor, which is quite unexpected from an official website by the Singapore’s Ministry of Defence.
Another of my favorites is the interactive on learning the basic foot drill commands.
Besides drawing lots of chuckles from people who’ve tried it, it serves a very real and common need mentioned by recruits we interviewed during our research phase.
Many recruits were unsure of the foot drill commands during their first couple of weeks, which added to their stress caused by all the adjustments they had to make. So this interactive was designed to help them learn the bare basics, without overwhelming them with the more advanced commands.
Similar is the interactive on identifying ranks. We decided on putting only 7 ranks that was most likely to be encountered by a recruit. Anything more would be overwhelming.
What I appreciate most is not the flashy stuff, but the move towards honesty and transparency in the content, especially in the section on recruit training.
Boys who haven’t gone into National Service would have heard stories on training from those who have gone before them. What they have heard may not always be accurate, since human memory is malleable, or simply because the training itself may have changed. It was thus important to include training information that is current and accurate.
We presented the information like how an informed older brother would – informing and advising, being honest about the difficulties to be expected, yet encouraging and being positive about it.
For example, in page on field camp, under “what is it like”:
The 6 days of field camp are tough, but you will definitely remember these days as they are packed with new and interesting experiences.
Mosquitoes: They’ll always be there, buzzing around when you’re training or trying to sleep, and giving you a bite or two in the process. You’ll be issued with insect repellent, so don’t forget to bring it along.
This honesty about the negative side of training is important for the credibility of the content.
You may have noticed that we even have a section on “safety concerns” on every training page. We found this section important after interviewing parents, especially mothers who were worried about their sons’ safety.
It’s been months of hard work, traveling to different camps and even Pulau Tekong numerous times, doing numerous interviews, taking countless photographs and video footage.
It was thus quite gratifying that the project won the first prize within the Ministry for Defence, and so was launched officially by the Minister of Defence Teo Chee Hean yesterday:
Here’s the official news release from the Ministry of Defence.
My colleague Maish also blogged about this project.
Update: The project went on to win the Gold award for the National IQC Convention 2008.