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Some thoughts behind our new look website

Posted 7 February 2011 by Sean Fishlock (Datalink)

Even from our perspective, its not often you stop to think about how a web designer might approach their own site, so I thought I'd give you some insight into the rationale and process behind our new design.  We've been progressively rebooting our company this year, with a move of offices, new products and agile development methodology to get the best results for customers – think “Datalink 2.0”. 

One of our priorities was redesigning our logo and website. 

Here's the result, a little hall of mirrors:

Datalink website hompage circa 2011

Our New Logo

Our project began with our logo, our designer was given the brief to be creative with the it rather than reinvent.  We wanted to maintain our brand but update it with a progressive Web2.0 look.  Our designer achieved this by inverting the logo.  It is actually the third time our logo has been inverted and with the progressive transformation it is virtually unrecognisable from the linked D's which we began with in the 1990s (which coincidentally has been used since by a few other brands since).  But the new logo we think it works well, it is individual and incorporates our "Datalink red" from other recent versions.  It is bubbly and active but conservative at the same time.  A new font typeface is also a little more upbeat and less conservative, reflecting our move toward more agile development and focus on innovation.

Our New Website

The website began with a brief of "less is more" and the KISS principle.  This is inkeeping with the latest trends in web design but also in an effort to reduce the amount of content and clutter on the site.  Many years ago we were promoting the message that the "Internet is not a brochure stand", however we made the strategic decision to reduce our website back to an online brochure.  This is because over the years we had accumulated a great wealth of info and put it on our site.  Some of it was useful, others not.  It was crammed with product information, features, spec sheets, user guides and all sorts of stuff.  But in the end, too much information and text was competing for attention and our core message and call to action was getting a bit lost.  We recognised this in other websites and worked hard to rectify the problem in our own.  We wanted it to be more visual and too look good on different screens including mobile devices including the iPhone and iPad.

The new website may seem more for business development than for customers, but in fact we feel that it delivers at both levels.  People who know our company will dig further to find what they need but all are looking for our basic contact details.  For customers we set out to embrace social media more and make the website the first point of call for our different services.  We also sought to show customers how we fit in the broader scheme of their project needs, to reinforce our benefit as a stable long term partner.  The main message of our corporate website was to be our custom development arm.  The advantage of using us is that we are a locally based development team that can deliver innovation on large complex projects which ties into all of our other products and services. So one of the first things you'll notice the new design has a prominent slider.  It takes up most of the page.  Originally we were going to use this to promote all sorts of things including products.  However we have decided to keep it simple and focus on what makes us different.  We decided to showcase some of our larger, innovative projects and to relate screenshots to business capabilities and strengths and have visitors identify themselves with the types of customers we work with.  So the homepage is essentially our elevator pitch.

We also made the decision to focus less on search engine optimisation.  Not ignore it.  Our content management system handles the basics just fine.  Just not to worry about it.  We put usability first.  The philosophy is that if it is going to be a popular site, it will do it on its own merits, not through any smoke and mirrors with Google.

Before Image - before
After Image - after
Click to zoom

Product Microsites

The next step was to separate our products into microsites.  We made this decision to meet two needs, one is vastly different audiences involved, and another was to reduce the general clutter on our corporate website.  Our latest content management system makes creating and managing targeted microsites and landing pages a breeze, so the timing was perfect. We plan to roll these sites out progressively over the course of this year and this keeps customers in the loop with exciting new developments happening all the time.

New Blog

Our blog has been one of our key communication tools for the last few years.  We’ve made many improvements to the tagging and taxonomy in our content management system and these have been introduced to the Datalink blog.  In an effort toward simplicity we made the slightly painful decision to remove the posts summary from our homepage.  We felt that people wanting to access the blog would still know how to get there and with the new platform there are now more places where posts are viewed and shared anyway.

What do you think ?

Its taken a while to get to this point due to the number of other pressing priorites -  a bit like a plumber with the leaky tap at home.  But we got there in the end.

Well there you go.  Since we’ve launched we’ve had some very positive feedback from our customers.  We’d welcome your feedback and you can share your comments using the form below.


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