According to Micro Persuasion, Edelman has created portal that consolidates all types of content generated from their employees—whether it be blog posts, articles podcasts or any other type of media. I think this is a brilliant idea. It shows that Edelman supports their intellectual capital and values the thought leadership which is emerging from the organization in both it’s formal and informal manifestations. It’s a win for the content providers, and a win for Edelman clients and non-clients who can get this stuff all in one place.
I only have one issue with it. I think the execution can be better.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the opportunities I see. This is my personal opinion and it's subjective based on my experience in the field of digital experience design.
1. The overall first impression:
I’m a bit overwhelmed and don’t really know where to begin. It’s not so much the amount of content. It’s the presentation of it. There are horizontal rows of type that seem to butt up to each other. There is a lot of text. Which is fine—this is a content portal after all. But Edelman could make better use of their corporate color palate. The dark blue column under podcasts interrupts the flow of content for me. And it’s tough to read the white type over the dark background. I think the portal could benefit from a “NY Times” or “Yahoo!” design approach. They also handle a great deal of content using a variety of neutral shades to help organize and “chunk up” bits of content into digestible and readable portions. Overall, there is a lot of contrast, a lot of content, and just a lot off stuff all competing for my attention.
I feel like the portal is shouting at me.
Some of the Employee content links out to their own blogs and some link to content within the Edelman site. It would be nice if I had an idea when I’m leaving to go to another blog or staying. Maybe a simple visual clue could do this.
3. Basic Usability:
Not all links have to be underlined. But the portal uses black bold type as a link. They look more like headers. I’m not sure what is a link or not. The home / speak up text up at the top right actually looks like a link. But it’s not. Please help! A suggestion here would be to standardize, simplify link states and maybe use highlight states upon rollover. This would tell me what’s hot and what’s not.
3. The accordion effect:
The designers have opted to go with an expandable design which stretches the width of the page. I understand why they did this (because other areas of the Edelman site expand) but it leads to unpredictable wrapping of text in the first two columns and when stretched out on say a 21 inch flat screen, it just dozen’t look right. So it’s compromised when the window is condensed and looks odd when it is maximized. It might make sense to keep the header flexible but lock the content section in the to the middle of the page so it always looks the same.
Just a few high level observations. The portal is a great idea. It can be even better. And customers/clients notice the kind of stuff I'm pointing out (even if it's subconscious). Sure Yahoo! And The NY Times both offer good content, but users, customers, and subscribers also appreciate how that content is displayed.