Dashboard Proof of Concept

WPA Consulting, the specialist IT and project development company, which also creates customized, highly interactive eBooks through its Nice Oak division, recently announced that it completed a Proof of Concept project for the New Jersey-based firm, Exhibit Surveys, the premier analytical and measurement company for the global trade show and event industry.

Skip Cox, CEO and President of Exhibit Surveys said, “Trade show organizers require a more flexible tool to assess and monitor both their domestic and international portfolios of events.  We are responding with a unique dashboard solution which monitors the health of events against a set of new industry benchmarks and we found that WPA Consulting presented us with a superior level of both control and response to test our digital concept and offering.”

WPA Consulting Managing Director James Beck, commented, “This project was in many ways a validation of what we have been stating for years. Our solution – a very interactive, enhanced and engaging platform for all types of shared, vital information on mobile platforms for organizational leaders is here and readily available. Skip and his team are in the forefront of the event industry’s changing business dynamics. WPA is so very pleased to be able to partner with Exhibit Surveys as they continue to lead the drive toward a mobile surveying enterprise”.

About Us
WPA Consulting was founded in 2005 by Stephan Beauchesne, the former Corporate Webmaster of the International Finance Corporation, a part of the World Bank Group based in Washington, DC. WPA offers a new breed of Web strategy consulting and efficient, effective solutions focusing on the business purposes of the corporate Website. We provide highly engaging, interactive and widget-based solutions for various clients and their sales force.

Harmonized Indicators WordPress site

The IFI Partnership Harmonized Indicators site was created as a means for publishing these indicators as well as serving as a entry point for partners to collaborate and share information with their stakeholders and between themselves. WPA built the site entirely in WordPress using additional plug-ins to enhance its functionality. See the site at http://indicators.ifipartnership.org

Let’s Work Partnership WordPress site

We are please to announce the launch of the letswork.org site which was built using WordPress.  The site serves as the main information platform for a partnership of leading international development organizations. Read more

Keep it simple

When companies want to build their Web presence, or re-design their site, they tend to think big. In most cases, thinking big is a good idea. However, on the Web, that’s usually not the right way to go. If you take on too much, and your site is too large for your team to maintain, you will be wasting resources in producing the site in the first place. In my many years of managing Web sites, I think that this is the number one problem I’ve encountered. People do not realize that you’re not done when the site is launched. Building a Web site is not putting most of your resources on building site, but rather you should be focusing your efforts on maintenance and future enhancements. That’s better planning.

Variations on standard look and feel

I realize that the title of today’s blog is an oxymoron. How can we have variations if we have a standard? However, even within the confines of strict standards and guidelines, we can still provide the ability for a unit, project, department, etc. to have an identity. Now, this is not something I’d encourage, but it is nonetheless an option if you are managing the site of a company driven by a”silo mentality.” At my last employer, we had to deal with individuals who wanted to remain creative in designing their own sites. Even after I came up with standards, there was a lot pressure to let departments create their own identity. My compromise at the time was to let them have control (somewhat) over the local banner, a graphic that appears below the top banner. This was clearly useful in making my standard templates more acceptable. If designed right, these local banners can actually add a nice touch.

The case for standard look and feel

I’m always surprised to see how many corporate Web sites do not have standard templates for their site. I see this for small and large companies alike. A strong brand reflects a strong identity to site visitors. Because of the nature of the Web, site visitors need to be reminded that they are on the same site as they click around. If they encounter different looks, they may think they left the site. Although design should be the last thing you worry about when creating a Web site, it is nonetheless critical to ensure that the site has a standard look and feel.

A good design doesn’t distract the user from getting to the information: It is an enabler

The key word is obviously “enabler”. Too often people focus on the esthetics of a design, and although it is important to have an appealing Web layout, all design elements have to have a purpose: Trigger action from the visitor. For e-commerce sites it could be to add items to a shopping cart; for non-profit sites it could be to entice someone to donate to a cause; for a commercial site it could be to download a white paper or a brochure or even better, initiate a business deal. So, ask yourself this simple question: Does the graphic design encourages users to act? If the answer is no, go back to the drawing board, evaluate your user needs and your own business goals and create a design that enables users to act.

How to get excited about information architecture

In this business, what gets clients excited is design. Unfortunately, that’s usually one of the least important part of a Web project. The difficulty is to convince the client that the more time and effort spent on strategy and information architecture, the better the Web site. Obviously, good design is important to entice the reader, but without a good navigation system, site visitors will click away from your site frustrated not to be able to the find what they came for.

More on look and feel

It is fairly obvious to whomever I talk to that corporation Web sites should have consistent look and feel, but the problem is the definition of what “consistent” means. For some, it is a fixed C-clamp (top banner, left-hand navigation bar, footer) throughout the site. For others, it is a constant brand within each part of the site, giving the site as a whole a series of different looks. For example, the Products area could have a different look then the Investor area, or the Recruitment area. The theory is that people visit only the part that is relevant to them. The problem is that this argument fails to take into consideration search, among other factors. When a user searches the site (and that’s a large amount of people), they will inevitably land in areas that weren’t designed for them, and if the look and feel is different, they will get confused. Bottom line, the safest way to ensure that your site is as usable as possible is to have a truly consistent interface and navigation on all your pages. There are many ways to have specific identities associated with different areas.