Last week we launched the “New IQ”. I think of it as the next evolution of our living lab where we put the best ideas from the best teams we learn from to work – and where we take our own medicine. Let’s just say that there’s nothing like following your own advice to make sure your recommendations are relevant – and to keep you on the straight and narrow.
While we were building the site we decided to share with you all the great advice we took and best practices we channeled during our odyssey in the hopes that they may inspire you in your next site redesign endeavor. But first let me tell you how the New IQ will improve your experience.
What does the new siteIQ.net mean for you?
Whether you’re a first-time visitor to our site, or someone returning to check out what we have been up to, the new site has a bunch of new technical goodies, imagery, and content to make surfing the site more enjoyable.
We added a slew of features to help you get what you want quickly and easily, such as:
- Site-wide search.
- Tag-based navigation that lets you check out other blogs or reports related to the topics you want to know about.
- Sorting capabilities that let you sort reports by year, site zone, or industry so you can quickly hone in on the topics that interest you most.
- A completely remodeled ecommerce system — one that aligns to common conventions, provides a receipt page, and provides an instant download link! (YAY!)
Then we worked on giving the site the soul it never had before:
- We ditched the corporate “blah, blah”. What you read is what I would tell you if you were sitting with me having coffee—even the legal statements.
- We chose interesting (and sometimes downright fun) images that say something about the topic. That means the generic photo of the pretty girl standing in front of a bank of servers is now available for other Websites.
So there is our vision in action. A site that is easy to navigate, enjoyable to read, gets you the information you need—and maybe even gives you a chuckle.
Now, we want to take a few paragraphs to thank those who came before us. But instead of running down a litany of names that may mean nothing to you, we want to provide you with links to the resources and sites that influenced us (some information is ours, some belong to others) in the hopes that they might help solve the Website issues that keep you up at night.
For those who build Websites…we salute you
Like all Website launches, our new site took longer than planned – cost a tad more than was in the original budget – and required a ton of late nights and weekends by everyone on the firing line. As the fearless leader of our happy band of Website designers – I want to say kudos to everyone who burned the midnight oil to make this happen.
We want to thank the academy…
…of muses that work in the Website teams we have tracked throughout the years. Some of the best practices we’ve emulated are the latest trends of the day, while others are tried and true conventions that are standing the test of time.
The books and their authors
- Designing for Emotion | A Book Apart | At the top of our list is Aarron Walter whose work for MailChimp.com was the catalyst for his great eBook on how to design for emotion – and get visitors engaged with your brand and demonstrate the value your products can deliver. In a busy world, curling up with this short book is time well spent. If you can translate this book’s inspiration into your executives’ and stakeholders’ online DNAs – so much the better. Get the book here.
- Purple Cow and Tribes | Next on the list is Seth Godin’s seminal books on the Purple Cow and the power of Tribes. These eBooks are perfect metaphors to understand why your products get lost in the digital clutter — and how your Web and marketing teams can laser focus your site on the value propositions and visitors that really matter. Find out how to get these books (and other titles from him) here.
With this as the backdrop, we’ve got to give a big shout out to a number of great sites that are putting these and other great concepts into action — and were our greatest muses during our design process.
- Apple.com | Our thanks to Apple.com for starting the negative space revolution in the IT industry — carrying the “design for emotion” torch — and demonstrating that it can really work. Learn more about negative space (a.k.a. “white space”) designs in this blog. To see how it is influencing content check out this case study (login required).
- CriticalMass.com | Our hats off to the Critical Mass Web team who delivers yet another best practice example of how to visually showcase the power of a company’s people, expertise, & results – and deliver another type of savvy voice that rings with the right tribe. You simply have to experience this site to understand.
Architecture & Navigation
- CA.com | Thanks for showing us that snacking architectures are always the easiest for visitors to follow (even as far back as 2010). Learn about what snacking architectures are and how they work in this case study (login required).
- Sun.com (RIP) | Thanks for reminding us how to use tab-top designs to put a muzzle on content – and keep value propositions in context. See how Sun.com revolutionized the use of tab-top navigation in product marketing — and the birth of the mega-menu — in this short case study (login required)
- HP Software and others | Thanks for the innovative thinking that brought us interactive sorting behaviors can deliver immediate benefits.
- IBM.com | Smarter Planet | Thanks to IBM.com’s Smarter Planet site and content team (thanks Joan Renner!) who cracked the code on how to marry less-is-more content with amazing fact-based visuals to bring complicated issues to life and make them easy for visitors to understand. Learn why IBM.com’s Smarter Planet strategy is so brilliant in this blog and check out the site’s fresh take on content in this case study. Want to know more? Find out how all the parts work together in the Smarter Planet series (login required).
- IBM.com | Software Group (and other divisions) | Thanks to the IBM Software Group site for defining how to create a cult of personality in a social media world – and how to leverage it into the power of tribes. As a matter of fact, we’re so impressed with this strategy – and its implications — that it’s a centerpiece in our 2012 Game Changers Best Practice Briefing. Want to learn about what the “Cult of Personality” is and why it works? Check out this case study (login required)
Call to Action
We have too many sites to thank for teaching us that nothing really happens until you create persistent calls to action (too many muses to honor here and we know we need to do a better job). But to get some ideas on which sites to scope out, look no farther than this blog (see the “call to action, ecommerce and purchasing” section). Need more specifics? If you have a login then read the best practice case studies about Symantec Norton and Cisco.com.
Final thanks to…
…the millions of developers and companies who are making WordPress a world-class platform. If you are a small- to medium-size company (like us), it doesn’t get much better – more powerful — or cost effective — than this.
If the new IQ misses the mark, all of our muses are off the hook and we’ll go back to the drawing board. Let us know what you think – and sound off about why you think these and other great sites hit the best practice mark by posting a comment below.