The brochureware approach and its limitations

Successfully Designing With Information > Building a Richly Connected Microsite > The Brochureware approach and its limitations

Given the task of designing a micro-site that showcases a consulting group’s capabilities and track record, the marketing department has a number of case study brochures, and wonders if they could just put them online. This approach is not that uncommon.   For a small number of case studies, we typically see a page like this.

initial microsite wireframe with poor user experience

This has thumbnails and descriptions for each project, which can be clicked to see the case study.  Above these is a big image and some text describing our project work as a whole.

While this is a quick way of getting a web presence, there are two potential usage problems.

Problem with Packaging

The first problem is packaging.  Users will come to the site with different goals.  Some might be interested in our capabilities; others might be more interested in the work we have done.  Packaging information into monolithic chunks, namely case studies, may not be the best we can do for them.   Certainly, users can wade through case studies, but they have to do all the work in extracting the information that is relevant to them [violating the “Don’t Make The Think” precept].  

Perhaps there are smaller chunks that would be more approachable and recognizable as meeting their goals.

Problem with Navigation

The second problem is navigation.   The navigational structure is essentially hub-and-spoke; the user has to go back to Our Case Studies to look for another case study of interest. This approach leads the user repeatedly into dead ends and back tracking.  An example user flow is.

  1. User navigates to Our Case Studies shown above
  2. User clicks through to the Retail Case Study
  3. User navigates back to Our Case Studies
  4. User clicks through to Energy Case Study
  5. User navigates back to Our Case Studies
  6. …….

Perhaps there is a navigation design that gives the user a better flow experience.

A More Versatile Approach

The good news is that we can do better than Brochureware.  In the next sections, we will systematically consider the structure of the content, and the user goals.  Using these, we will create a microsite where users can direct their own exploration through the microsite, leading to an experience that is engaging, informative and sticky.

In doing so, we will introduce many reusable analysis, modelling and interaction design approaches that are foundational in creating information-rich solutions with a high degree of user acceptance.

Next: Exploring the Domain
View Martin Stares' profile on LinkedIn

Leave a Reply