2012 – What a year…!!!

As the last day of 2012 is only hours away, it seems appropriate to briefly reflect on the past year, which has been anything but boring.

It has been a year of exciting and diverse projects for me, ranging from Thames Water‘s online drought campaign to one of the most impactful social networking and collaboration proof of concepts for one of the world’s favourite airlines.

I have had the pleasure of working on external digital marketing projects and internal comms strategies for the likes of Experian, Deutsche Bank, Old Mutual Group, Camelot and Betfair amongst many others and would like to thank all the clients for entrusting their digital strategies in our hands.

Together with my team I hosted two hugely successful events and would like to thank the guest speakers, in particular Paul Hewitt from Deutsche Bank and Nick Crawford then from Bupa, as well as the guys from Yammer and Jive for their time and involvement. A special mention also needs to go to my colleagues Neil Clayton and Mark Smith for their support and effort in helping me make it happen.

In terms of trends, 2012 was certainly an exciting year for digital internal comms. Social networking and collaboration continued to be the main talking point, heightened by the purchase by Microsoft of Yammer. Whether this did the industry any favours will remain to be seen but it had a reflective effect on a sector that was probably getting a little bit carried away with itself, which was a good thing.

Another important talking point was mobile & mobility and whether native apps or web apps were the future (see overview here). This conversation will no doubt dominate in 2013 and in my opinion web apps will steal some market share from native apps, particularly in marketing and communications. Whichever is the ultimate winner or whether they share top spot, mobility will be key. Doing everything everywhere, on fully integrated devices, working in the clouds is in my opinion the trend for 2013 and it offers many exciting opportunities.

On a personal level, I will start 2013 with a completely new challenge which will see me back in the B2C arena, working with big data and intelligence, enabling organisations to engage and interact more effectively with their customers. It is a very exciting opportunity and I truthfully can’t wait for the start to the new year!

I wish everyone the very best for 2013 and thank you for reading my digital ramblings. I look forward to continuing in the New Year.

Corporate web design trends

Conscious of the fact that I have been very much focused on the internal digital landscape, I decided to have a look at what is happening on the external front. The most notable development in external web design, for me, is the shift in focus and importance placed on ‘user-experience’ (hallelujah!). And I dont just mean visual user-experience.

Gone are (…or ‘should be’) the traditional heavy corporate rhetoric and the self-gratifying websites that the CEO could show-off to his family and friends. Gone are the big images that are completely irrelevant to the content and what the visitor is looking for. Gone are the long lists of over-glorifying ‘news’ stories and gone is content for content sake. We are moving from ‘look how big/important we are!‘ to ‘how can we help you?‘.

Below I have selected some sites that I believe are best-in-class examples of these new trends.

I must stress at this stage that I have deliberately avoided any designs from my own agency as I don’t want to be accused of bias or favouritism, and also to show that I am a very good sport. I am a firm believer that good work should be recognised even if it is not our own.

If you have any other suggestions please feel free to add the link in the comments below.

Bloomberg

Visually engaging and definitely different. The user-experience (UX) is one step ahead of most sites. The information is well organised and you are immediately and subconsciously drawn to the most important content. Everything is only one-click away and I like the ‘get to know the company at a glance’ approach. Bloomberg is ‘selling’ itself but in a refreshingly direct and no nonsense manner.

Petrofac

I really like the practicality of this design. There are definite hints of the new Facebook layout. It is clean, easy to navigate and still visually engaging. Great use of font sizes to attract your attention to content, and the imagery tells the story.

Standard Chartered

Normally I am not a great fan of sites with heavy background images, but I really like the way that the background image is part of the content on the page and the interactivity it brings to the page.

Xstrata

Although I like the layout (it is fresh and colourful), the main thing I like about this site is the story….and everyone knows that a good story is not just about content but how you tell it. The colours and imagery do the content justice.

ARUP

I really like this. It is a great example of liquid design (fluid layout), making it not only ideal for the different screen resolution but also for mobile devices (according to Office of National Statistics 50% of us are now going online via mobile devices). It also follows the trend of blog-style layout, which is easy to read yet not often used for corporate sites. It works and I like it a lot.

I hope you like the examples and, as mentioned above, please use the comments box to highlight other good corporate design examples…or let me know your thoughts on the trends that you feel are important (examples please!).