When I’m asked to help with website design I tend to limit my offer to wireframing and visual suggestions. In this way the client is given a head start when engaging the services of a web developer, or working with any in-house team.
In this example Baxi’s Heateam service division required a website-based tool to share ideas, news and best practice throughout the entire network of technicians, call centre staff and management staff. This was no place for fancy-pants design! A lot of information needed to be conveyed in a way that was easy to scan and read, and easy to navigate. The key was providing a graphically consistent approach to each section, so that the user didn’t waste time relearning the interface.
Elements included a simple front-end, informal blog, rich forum environment, email newsletter, and integration with SMS messaging. It was important to provide an SMS ‘bootstrap’ into the system as most technicians are still using non-smart phones, with accompanying laptops.
Importantly, we decided that the forum environment had to be bespoke and not an off-the-shelf open source module. Data management staff were then hired to test and hone the elements to be integrated before committing to final code. From the outset the forum was designed to be integrated with YouTube (for operational technique demonstrations) and Twitter (to ‘leak’ parts of the heateam intranet out into open sight).