A good web portal is vital for many organisations, and site visitors have ever-higher expectations of the quality of their web experience. Differing ways people access the web, innovations in design techniques such as graphics, and new techniques to impart information quickly, clearly and attractively make web portal design and development an ever-increasing challenge.
Some advances that are worth taking account of:
1. Adaptability and Responsiveness
People access the Internet in various different ways and have done for a while now, the explosion in smartphone use means mobile Internet access is increasing. Web sites and other resources have to be as user-friendly for someone accessing a portal on the move or on a poor Internet connection using a smartphone.
One of Google’s recent algorithm updates penalised websites that weren’t mobile friendly enough, so search rankings are at stake if a portal doesn’t adapt to tablet, smartphone and netbook users along with those on bigger screens.
Consequently, adaptive design techniques (the ability for a portal to adapt to different screen sizes) has leapt on to meet this important trend.
2. Design Techniques
Visuals make a huge difference to a portal, and the advances in Internet speed, bandwidth and data compression opens up various techniques for the developer.
Hero images – a large, striking image above the fold with some type of menu or ‘enter here’ or ‘more information’ button below.
Apple’s use of dramatic photos such as the recent use of captivating mountain images when promoting their operating system is a good example of the use of hero images.
Cards – a montage of images or graphics with information as to what clicking on it leads to content-wise is a popular method. Previously these amounts of different images on one page would have taken too long to load on many computers and mobile devices to be a viable option.
Rich, motion and hover animations – for the same reasons as ‘cards’ above, detailed and colourful smooth animations are gaining popularity.
Galleries and slideshows – again, thanks to faster Internet speeds and compression, these provide a stylish and effective way to show several images.
The important thing is not to go overboard with design and try and cram everything into your web portal. A good web portal developer will know what works well together and can advise what suits your target visitor.
One of the biggest challenges facing web portals today is security. While major security breaches resulting in the theft of personal data from millions of client accounts are reported every year, similar breaches in small businesses tend to go unreported. Nevertheless, the threat is there, and a serious security breach can permanently damage a SME – it has also been reported that when such a breach occurs, the CEO often finds themselves in the firing line.
Hidden navigation – a popular feature to save space on smaller screens and make for less cluttered standard designs, the scrollers only appear when they’re needed.
Another technique especially helpful for smaller screens when filling in forms is the way they can jump to full screen when tapped on so as to make them as clear and legible as possible.
Revise Your Web Portal
If your web portal has not been update for a few years, it will probably require an overhaul and it could be worth integrating some of the newer techniques. A modern web portal will also allow you to integrate marketing insights and ERP systems so that you can manage your entire business workflow through a single application. A modern web portal can help your business grow.
Karen Harding is the marketing manager at Objective IT, one of the South East’s leading web and software development companies.