Designing Corporate Websites Part 1
According to research conducted by the Content Marketing Institute, for over 90% of users, the primary source of information about a company, its products, or services is the company's website. It is difficult to disagree with this, especially when we analyze contemporary communication trends that create a specific ecosystem using disciplines such as Content Marketing, SEO/SEM, which take into account the quality of published content, the extensiveness of website information architecture (in the context of search engines), conscious use of web typography rules to build modern flat design websites with RWD (Responsive Web Design) layer, as well as increasing investments in usability research and implementation of design methodologies (User–Centered Design, Design Thinking), that help create effective communication websites. Let's try to answer, then, what needs to be done to ensure that a designed corporate website meets the expectations of its main audiences and publisher.
Corporate website - only for corporations?
In the subject literature, a diverse typology of websites can be found. However, it is worth knowing that a corporate website can be implemented by a company that does not necessarily have to be a corporation. So what's the point?
For the purposes of a study conducted by KPMG, "corporate portals (corporate portals, enterprise portals, enterprise information portals) were defined as technological solutions that integrate dispersed applications and information resources in order to improve decision-making and streamline organizational activities". Another definition, created by E. Ziemba, points to a similar range of issues and highlights its significant functions: "a corporate portal is an IT platform that integrates IT systems and technologies, data, information, and knowledge functioning in the organization and its environment to enable users to access data, information, knowledge, and their sources in a personalized and convenient way according to their task-related needs, at any time and place, in a secure manner (...)".
Let's notice that the description refers not to the organization itself, but rather to processes and needs. It follows that both a medium-sized enterprise and a commercial international organization can become a publisher of a corporate website. A small company may be much more advanced and aware of the importance of information technology than, for example, some publicly traded companies.
The core and primary element that constitutes proper functioning of a portal is the design path leading to its full implementation and effective operation. Among the functions that a corporate portal should fulfill are, among others:
- Access to static and dynamic data (documents or real-time data);
- Access to applications and systems with their simultaneous integration within ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) or CRM (Customer Relationship Management) class solutions;
- Automation of procedures and support for communication within the work of individual units and teams;
- Support for decision-making processes;
- Creating a space for building communities around products and services, as well as knowledge from various areas of enterprise activity;
- Document flow management.
Without a methodology, it is difficult to achieve the set goals.
The realization of projects in which the user and their needs are adopted as the goal of actions and the highest priority was defined by Donald Norman and Stephen Draper (User Centered Design). Nowadays, this term has gained the status of a synonym, describing the methodological approach used during the design of, for example, websites or web applications. One can also come across the term "user experience" (UX), indicating the impressions the user experiences while using an interactive product.
Based on empirical data, it is stated that there is no one leading method that provides complete and universal assumptions for all types of projects. By type of project, we mean, among others: type of service (corporate, product, tactical); budget, organizational culture, as well as the accepted deadline for implementation and product development. These factors are key and most commonly encountered determinants that affect the way and indirectly the quality of work carried out. The model project path includes elements such as planning, analysis, design, testing and evaluation, operation, and product improvement.
Another part of the article is coming up soon :) Visit our website, Facebook profile, and Twitter. In the next article, we will talk about website prototypes, usability testing (UX), and answer the question of whether testing with 5-7 users is folklore or a paradigm worth basing usability testing on.