Are social professional websites possible?
1 December 2014
Nowadays, investing in design and user experience is an integral stage of constructing a site, whether external or internal. We invest in locating needs, characterizing, choosing the right colors, creating appropriate templates, writing quality content, all in order for the user experience to be positive and our user become a frequent visitor.
Is this enough? What other elements can we insert into our professional websites in order to generate interest? How can we create a more personal relationship and thus instill a sense of belonging?
I wish to share two elements which in my opinion affect the user experience and can create a more personal experience:
Let's be social!
With the introduction of Social Networks to our world, internet websites (which are not traditionally categorized as Social Networks) also integrate different social components (posting a comment, Like, feedback, sharing etc.).
Integrating these components has become common in current organizational portals and in my opinion should be utilized when characterizing and designing professional websites as well. We can thus gain a mutual relationship:
First we gain, active, involved, responding users through which we can learn in real-time what the users are thinking, what they like and don't like, what they are looking for and what they find interesting.
Furthermore, we can learn through this about our users' behavior. The fact that they respond actively increases the chance that the users will return to the site: at first merely to check if anyone replied to their response, then to see if other users agree/Like what they think and if their content affects the contents and leads to changes. This discourse may cause the user to fell "part of the family". The site then becomes more than a source of knowledge, rather an environment in which the user can feel a sense of belonging (which we all seek).
Come and see us!
In numerous projects in which I participated in the process of characterization, establishment and/or update, I discovered that real pictures have great affect on the users' interest concerning the page. I must note that, as a person who does not like to be exposed, the use of pictures affected me very positively as well. A profile picture is a basic element which exists in all Social Networks and creates a close, comfortable feeling between users.
This can be easily implemented in professional sites. Try it!
Where is this appropriate?
If you are presenting an organizational construct or unit pages, place a profile picture of each member beside his/her name.
If you're publishing news of some sort, insert a picture of the event or person.
If you've created a contacts page, insert a small profile picture beside each name.
If you wish to add a dynamic feature to your homepage, ass a picture gallery and you've gained color and interest.
In conclusion, the Social Networks are here to stay. We are all members of at least one social network, we all like to feel influential and are accustomed to responding to and sharing opinions and pictures as well as reading comments and viewing who wrote them. Why then not use these benefits in professional internal websites that may assist us in knowing our users better and provide them with a sense of belonging?
BTW, this is me, Maya. Nice to meet you!
What do you think? Is it nicer with a picture or without one?