With the HyperLink design, we took a simple concept and gave it its own life. Now it is the major vehicle for the organization and required reading by all employees.

Old vs. New

The previous version of this internal newsletter was nothing more than a static series of HTML pages. For a newsletter serving the needs of the organization, there was no personality or attention to detail given to specific types of content. In essence, it was a long list of stories organized by their perceived importance. One of the first things I did was define areas for specific content through quick succession of wireframes. Since the content varied from week to week, the layout needed to be flexible to accommodate a little content (8 stories) to a lot (17 or more).

HyperLink wireframes

Because there was some sensitivity to which department received top billing on the page, careful consideration was given to the hierarchy of information. In addition to creating a more dynamic and engaging experience for our audience, we had customer feedback dating back to the beginning of the original design. Comments were aggregated historically and over a series of months before the redesign then organized into feature improvements, nice to have items, and personal preference. In order to keep the focus on the index page itself, we decided to go with a lightbox presentation for the stories. About half the people requested that a full page version, similar to the old one be maintained as well. Not wanting to disappoint, we created a “Print” version that applied a basic style sheet to display all of the content on one page.

Mockups showing the flexibility of the layout

Details + Quality = Credibility

An interesting thing happened when we started implementing the chosen design. People began to have a sense of pride and ownership in the content. We made sure special attention was given to the type of content and how it was displayed
. For instance we had areas that highlighted individual accomplishments as well as Association news
. This improved content strategy meant removing extraneous local news articles for a more focused piece.

Success

The animated coffee cup gave us a vehicle that would keep people’s interest. I was able to delegate the creation of future animations to our production team and several creative ideas were spawned from this initial concept including a fishing pole for father’s day, 4th of July fireworks, Snowflakes for the winter holidays, etc.
Benefits of the new design include:

Flexibility. Gives people the option to view it the old way (one long page) and the new way with lightboxes.

Simplified authoring.  Aggregation of multiple assets means that one page is no longer being edited and numerous articles can be fed into the on index page, simplifying the authoring process.

Improved hierarchy & presentation. Making sure the most important information looked like it was prominent gave users a sense of “must read” content. Having regular areas where features appear provided consistency from week to week.

Visual interest. Taking a layered, textural approach with the design elements gave the newsletter a lot of character. Items such as the coffee cup, torn paper edges, post-it style features, and tape elements provided a level of detail that leant to the credibility of the content.

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