Utilizing worldwide trends for the improvement of our inner world
1 March 2014
We all surf the web via PC, Smartphone or tablet. We all have our favorite sites, sites we are accustomed to entering, whether it's for necessary information, using the site's services or enriching our world. Our recurring entrance of these sites has several reasons, a major one being the overall user experience the site offers (which, if unpleasant, will probably be reason enough for avoiding entering this site again). Organizations invest in their many resources in their sites and applications in order to remain updated, innovative and hip in order to ensure users return.
So, what's new?
As the New Year enters, I decided to check out the major trends in the internet world of 2014 and how we can utilize these trends in order to improve our professional/organizational portals. Most of these solutions can be easily implemented in internal websites and with a little thought we can renew and refresh our internal sites and enhance their usefulness.
Let me start off with the bottom line: Simple, Clean, Colorful (to an extent), and yet again Simple!
This design model sports a two-dimensional design, one strong color, no shadowing or lighting using an icon. Through this design method we part ways with the three-dimensional buttons-oriented design and favor a smooth, colorful, simple design.
The flat design is comprised of a division to subjects or content defined by different coloring. This method enables keeping the site simple and clean, as well as clearly defined which in turn allows us to convey messages and content by using icons and white-colored text on colored backdrops. An increasing number of sites & applications have moved to a flat design, such as: Apple, Windows8 and many more.
An example of a flat design can be seen below (courtesy of http://theecologycenter.org):
This design can be easily implemented in internal portals while using colors in order to define content areas, icons that assist in comprehending the subject and promoting the relevant content in order to provoke the users' curiosity.
Simplicity (less is more)
The site is meant to serve its users. Not all information and buttons available on the site are necessary since they do not all assist the user. The design is supposed to convey messages as effectively as possible in order to help the user to navigate easily and quickly and prevent a situation in which esthetics come at the expense of content. In this case, minimalism is legitimate. More and More designers accept the minimalistic doctrine that proclaims that a clean page is a page more easily navigated through.
Hereby are some trends that in my opinion ultimately serve the subject of simplicity:
Simple Limited Color pattern: Many designers opt with 2-3 colors for each site instead of using complicated animations and sophisticated design. The idea is to use a uniform bright color for the backdrop and include pictures/icons and white/black colored text in order to ensure a clean, appealing design. Hereby is an example of a simple yet pleasant color scheme (courtesy of https://squareup.com/):
A navigation bar available by button if necessary:
The navigation bar is located on the site and is accessible via clicking a button only if the user wishes so. If the user is uninterested, the navigation bar will not cover other content and will enable more clear space.
Scrolling may be easier and quicker than multiple clicking on hyperlinks and waiting for the pages to load. Current design offers extensive scrolling by utilizing a design technology that enables organizing and arranging content by area while the background changes accordingly so the user doesn't notice the extended scroll. Furthermore, long scrolling enables Story Telling via animation (which is a trend in itself). An example is available at http://www.dangersoffracking.com.
Can this method be implemented in portals?
An easily navigated site that does not require assistance is undoubtedly vital. It is recommended to choose a permanent color scheme that is not comprised of too many colors (preferably, the brand colors). Nevertheless, since most organizational/professional portals present several diverse content fields (that are not necessarily related) a navigation bar should not be easily dismissed. This solution should be considered according to the portal's target audience and content.
The current approach states that the less written content, the better. Written messages can be substituted by videos, easily created in html5. These videos can liven up the site and assist in conveying information regarding the company and its products. Note: professional content is important and should be paid due attention since it is the main component in the attempt to ensure usage of the internal portal. Nevertheless, video content can be used as a means to convey messages from management, or as a means of internal communication, assimilating new processes, etc.
Although quality videos are easy to create, their content, editing and weight should be taken into consideration as they might slow the site down and thus harm the user experience.
In conclusion, there are many advantages to utilizing recent trends in the internet world in order to improve internal portals/websites: the user is probably familiar with some due to his/her surfing, the innovation creates curiosity and an updated site provides the user with a sense of trust and enhances usage. That said, it is important to check whether these trends indeed serve the site's goals and suit its target audience. In the end, the target audience is the most important client and therefore the ultimate factor to consider.
In case you've noticed any other interesting internet trends, please share with us!