By Cathy Dew
Intranet visual design is more than what meets the eye.
Visual design is about your organization’s unique style supporting its valuable substance. It’s the first thing to impact user experience because it’s the first aspect of your intranet that employees and stakeholders will see.
Great Visual Design Requires an Expert
If there were ever a time to not cut corners, it would be in the area of visual design. The tools and tricks used by visual designers— think Adobe Creative Suite -- are rarely leveraged to professional quality standards by amateurs. Seriously consider hiring a designer-by-trade to take on the visual aspects of your site. DIY is not the impression you want your users imprinting on.
Great Visual Design Conveys Your Organization’s Best Qualities
You want to make sure your intranet design supports your information architecture by creating a context for users to be drawn to the site. Great visual design conveys your company’s best qualities.
Ready to get started? These four UX visual design tips will get you on the right track:
1. Brand before you begin.
When is the last time you undertook a branding audit of your organization?
You are about to create the most important internal communications tool your company will have. It should reflect your company culture, your company style, and your company values. In other words….your company brand.
Do your logo, fonts, and color story support the foundations of what your company represents? If you haven’t explored your branding in a while, I recommend engaging in a branding review and refresh exercise before you even think about going forward with the visual aspects of intranet design.
2. Keep the employee top of mind.
Visual design and IA are two sides of the same coin. Make sure your visual design team understands the needs of your employees and stakeholders and how your intranet is designed to function to their advantage. By understanding the intended users’ primary purpose in accessing information on the site, your visual designer will be more adept at drawing their eyes and attention to the functions at the top of their “need to use” lists.
3. Avoid future shock.
If you’ve done your pre-design due diligence, you should have already thought through some possibilities for your intranet’s usefulness many years down the road. Make sure your visual design expert understands tomorrow’s anticipated needs before making decisions about important visual design elements today.
4. Make sure there is a reason for every visual design decision.
Whether you have the chops to create the visual design yourself or you engage an outside professional with visual design expertise, be sure that every decision that goes into your design – color, font, style, size, etc. -- is made deliberately. A professional visual designer knows the why of their design as much as the what. Hold them accountable for their choices.
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