icon

BRANDE : Web design

July 20, 2015

The Changing Face of Intranets

Brandemix has been creating company intranets since 2008. I thought it would be interested to see how best practices and innovations from that year compare with the latest design trends of 2015. Looking back at how far intranets have come can give insights on to where they’re going next.

I’ve dug through the Brandemix archives and conducted a web search limited to 2008 to determine what was trending then, and contrasted the results with this year’s innovations.

Then: Desktop-friendly
Now: Mobile-friendly

Intranets used to be accessible only to employees sitting at their desks. That meant a large screen, often a Windows operating system, and standard dimensions and colors. Thus, the intranet had to look good on only what type of machine. After all, why would an employee check work information at home, in their free time? And they certainly wouldn’t use a mobile device to browse a company’s intranet, since the first iPhone had been released only a few months before.

Of course, the iPhone changed all that. Now employees want to be able to check their benefits, schedules, sick pay, and other information anytime. And they do it on a number of different devices with at least three different operating systems. As the Nielsen Norman Group notes about this year’s Intranet Design Award-winners, “bevels, shadows, and elaborate framing effects” have mostly given way to simple flat circles and rectangles, the easier to be tapped by a thumb. Responsive design is a must, since the intranet must look good on devices of every size.

Bank of America's intranet, 2008 Bank of America’s intranet, 2008

Then: Photo of the day
Now: Image carousel

In 2008, intranets were transitioning from utilitarian (and boring) text-only formats and starting to embrace multimedia, starting with photos. Many organizations posted a “Photo of the Day” that greeted employees when they accessed the intranet. Some of these pictures were from the company’s files or employee events, others were simply stock images, which weren’t very engaging.

In 2015, many organizations are using image carousels to provide multiple photos to employees each time they log in. Here, the content drives the images — if it’s open enrollment for health benefits, the image might reflect health and wellness. It the winter holidays are nearing, the image may show employees exchanging gifts or spending time with their families. This makes the intranet homepage much more relevant and engaging for workers, and makes the entire site easier to navigate.

Then: One-way video
Now: Interactive video

Seven years ago, video was just making its way onto intranets. Back then, you could expect two kinds of content: Training videos and speeches from executives. Useful, but limiting. There was no chance for a employees to respond or to post their own videos. The intranet was considered a one-way portal of information, with no thought of employees contributing to the conversation.

Today, the idea of social media has changed that philosophy. Rather than posting “official” videos of corporate events, some companies allow employees to post their own, since virtually every worker has a camera in their pocket at every event. Health company Klick uses video in a unique way: After an employee submits a question, an expert on the topic records an answer with an iPhone and uploads the video to intranet. This makes knowledge-sharing much more fun and interactive than a typical training video. Organizations have finally caught on and stopped making videos play automatically — a pet peeve of mine.

Adidas intranet, 2015 Adidas intranet, 2015

Then: Intranet as document dump
Now: Intranet as vault of knowledge

In the early days of intranets, companies would basically dump all their documents into their internal server. Press releases, legal documents, health insurance information, employee handbooks, old blog posts. Often it wasn’t indexed or categorized or searchable. Without a direct link, employees had to sift through a lot of blurry scans and weirdly formatted pages to find useful information.

Today, companies see an intranet as a respository of knowledge that can inform and engage employees. They take the time to scan and index documents, and tag them with descriptive keywords, so that employees can easily access them. Some organizations have taken the next step and implemented federated search, allowing one search to run through multiple databases. Others, like IBM, have made employees part of their knowledge base by connecting experts in different fields. Rather than searching a “normal” database, workers search for a colleague who can provide the answers they need.

Then: Brandemix could help you
Now: Brandemix can help you

Brandemix has been creating and enhancing company intranets since 2007. We know the latest trends and can customize your intranet’s capabilities to your exact needs. We also believe that extending your brand through internal communications is the best way to build employee engagement and commitment. Through our four-phase process, we build intranets that promote your business objectives, tell employees the forces driving it, and keep them up to date.

Ready for an intranet that will still be effective and engaging in 2023? Contact Brandemix.

Jody Ordioni is President of Brandemix.

April 11, 2013

Brandemix Bonus Reel: Authentic Employer Branding

How can a company offer an authentic employer brand even during negative publicity? Director of Interactive Branding Jason Ginsburg shows how it’s done.

November 1, 2012

Engage Your Audience With Infographics

In the past few years, infographics have been taking the internet by storm, turning seemingly innocuous blog posts into viral sensations. Beautiful, funny, and charming works of art, they turn boring statistics and information – like “50% of all smartphone owners drink coffee between 7 and 10 a.m.” – into something that’s not only informative, but also easy on the eyes. 

Great news: You don’t need to be a statistical genius or a brilliant artist to dazzle your audience.

Here are a few simple steps towards making them great.  

1. Find a Viral Topic
Whether you’re trying to detail something as expansive as the history of the internet, or something as simple as the latest Kindle, relevance is important. If you’re creating a comparison chart between the Kindle and Nook, but you completely leave out the fact that the iPad Mini was just released, you’ll be missing out on a huge opportunity to create something that people might want to share with everyone they know – and that’s the point, right?

So think about relevant current events, topics, products, crises, scandals – anything. If people are talking about it, creating an infographic that’s reflective of those events is a simple way will make people far more likely to share that infographic.

2. Keep it Simple
Perhaps the best element about infographics is that, like Twitter, they force us to be concise.

Chances are that if you’re reading a lengthy report or a case study, there’s a lot of unnecessary information.

So focus on the things that matter – the differentiators, the key takeaways, the glaring discrepancies, whatever they may be.

With that in mind, just because you’re focusing on the essentials doesn’t necessarily mean that the infographic has to be short. It can be small, like this one from Hubspot or huge, like this one from Pop Chart Lab.

Just don’t fill it up with tone of useless information. This Kindle vs. Nook chart below is a great example, as it focuses on one thing  the price of books in their respective e-book stores  and keeps it as straightforward as possible.


Source: Booklr Blog

3. Just Build It

Creating an infographic is extremely difficult and expensive, right?

No, not really. In fact, there are a few free – that’s right, free– resources that enable anyone with a few minutes of time, some interesting statistics, and a handful of unique ideas to create things that are as pretty as they are shareable.

One simple (and free) resource for doing so is called Easelly, which lets users create infographics like this and this with minimal effort.

Beyond that, sites like Infogr.am allow users to easily import statistics into a wide (and constantly expanding) range of infographics. Want more? Infogr.am allows you to make those infographics interactive. It’s magic!

Source: Infogr.am

Those not your dig? Here are a few alternatives. Still not doing it? Hire an agency.

August 28, 2012

Ready for a Mobile Site? Rethink Everything!

Based on a recent study by Mongoose Metrics, only 9% of all the websites in the world are optimized for mobile devices. And yet more and more people are viewing sites on smartphones and tablets. That means your site is probably failing a large part of your audience.
So you need to make your site mobile-ready. Think it’s easy? Nope. You have to rethink everything.
Rethink Design
A lot of clients I speak to think that “mobile optimization” means just shrinking their site to fit on a smaller screen. There’s much more to it. Because of the different needs of a mobile user and the different experience of a phone, the entire design has to change. This means bringing in your creative director (or using our fantastic one) to craft a new look and feel for the site, while keeping your branding. Seem like a big step? It’s only the beginning…
Rethink Navigation
Everything must be scaled down for a mobile site. Only the most important sections should remain, and they should all be prominently on the homepage. Compare the Famers Insurance website to its mobile site. The many options and documents have been reduced to just four items: reporting a claim, paying their bill, finding an agent, and browsing products. If you want to ensure users have access to more information, you can always include a link to your full site.

Farmers Insurance: From this…

…to this.
Rethink Text
There’s only so much room on a mobile screen, so try to keep text to a minimum. Most of the navigation should be done through buttons, large words, and clear icons. Look at AT&T’s mobile careers site. Notice how they divide their departments by icons, with very small text below. On a “normal” website, these options could be simple text links. But for a mobile site, you should never make your visitors squint.

AT&T Careers emphasizes icons over text
Rethink Experience
See? The mobile experience is very different from a desktop one. Big graphic files or videos, which usually aren’t an issue, must now be weighed against the time it takes for them to load. Avoid Flash animation, since most mobile devices don’t currently support Flash. And different mobile operating systems are like different web browsers; what looks great on an iPhone may not look good on a Samsung Galaxy.
A great example of a totally “rethought” mobile site is Loews Hotels. The site uses the phone’s GPS to find the nearest hotel and offers four simple choices: Visit, call, map, or book now. Navigation on the homepage is a simple scrolling menu with photos, short descriptions, and buttons large enough for a thumb. Choosing “Contact Us” at the top offers the option to “Click here to book through a mobile device,” in case users missed it. It’s a clean, simple, informative mobile experience. No wonder it won the Web Marketing Association’s award for Outstanding Achievement in Mobile.

Loews Hotels’ award-winning mobile site
 Want to learn more about creating a great mobile site? Use your smartphone as a phone (gasp!) and call us at 212-947-1001.


July 31, 2012

Brandemix Website Makeover Contest!

As Brandemix looks forward to the launch of our own new website (coming soon), it’s time to recognize and celebrate great website makeovers!

We’re holding a contest to reward the best refresh, revamp, and relaunch of websites (Click here for contest rules). Any organization, any size, profit or nonprofit.


Simply submit “before and after” images to website@brandemix.com and we’ll post it the top ten judged entries on our Pinterest board during the voting period. 
Feel free to post as a web designer or a fan, even if you weren’t responsible for the change. Don’t have the “before”? Use the Wayback Machine. 

The redesign with the most total likes, comments, and repins will win a free press release, distributed to hundreds of outlets, announcing both the design achievement and the victory. 


We’ll also capture the success and and those responsible for it on video, and post it here on our blog and 
our Facebook page. The whole world will learn all about the website and the brand.

What kind of things are we looking for? Here’s the Lindal Group, a manufacturing company, before their website refresh:


Not bad, but heavy on text, and with no real branding. Navigation is on the left, the top, and the right, making for a confusing interface. Now look at the current site:

Much more visually interesting! Plenty of images of the products that Lindal actually makes. Clearer navigation and a search function to make browsing easier. And you’ve got to love the branding: “Your Innovation Partner.” The previous website didn’t have a tagline.

This and other website makeovers are on our contest pinboard on Pinterest. Vote by commenting, repinning, liking — or all three! The website with the most total votes by Monday, September 17 wins the free press release, video interview, and eternal internet fame.

Submit your site, or any other, by emailing website@brandemix.com. Remember to include both a before and after shot.


Good luck!