When to use best practice
By Helena Wennergren
To some, best practice examples might sound like a clever way to avoid having to build from the ground up or spend a lot of money. To others, they might sound like the worst idea ever and a complete creativity killer. We guide you on when best practice examples can end up being a welcome addition to your communications toolkit and when they can turn into a pointless pursuit.
Used in the right way, best practice examples – i.e. effective solutions to problems shared by many – can save you from reinventing the wheel and help you spend your time and creativity on the things that should be unique to your company. The trick is to use them as inspiration and be careful not to become a copycat.
Navigation and labelling
One of the most obvious times to look at others for inspiration and guidance is when you are trying to improve standardised website sections. The clearest example of this are sections containing information about your company, such as investor relations, media, and corporate governance.
Labelling corporate content in a way that is consistent with your industry peers is helpful for those users who visit other websites more frequently than yours. Make their journey easier by using similar labels and by placing content in the same place within the site structure. Imagine a jobseeker who wants to know what it is like to work at the company or a journalist who wants to know what the company is doing – where would they expect to find information?
When to use best practices
Here are some additional examples of when to look at others for inspiration:
- Archives for reports and presentations.
You will often find yourself in a situation where you must provide fragmented information across several formats, such as an annual report. AGMs, interim reports, and capital market days. This can make website section messy and hard to navigate. As this is something all listed companies have in common, someone is sure to have already solved this problem in an efficient way. Don't shy away from using other websites as you starting point!
- Figures & tables
Important data should be presented both as a downloadable PDF and in an HTML format. This will ensure that your users can always access critical content– no matter where they are or what device they are using. Rather than presenting data-heavy content as images lifted from reporting material, look into ways to clearly lay out the information for easier browsing. This is something all companies must deal with, so don't shy away from adapting smart solutions already provided by your peers.
- The board of directors and management teams
There are many ways to present this information that go beyond creating one long list. See how Swedish Match chose to showcase their Management Team as an example.
- Press releases and news
With different types of news and articles, more pressure is put on your press room to provide a smooth experience. The baseline expectation here is that users should be able to sort through corporate press releases, regulatory and price sensitive releases, business-related press releases, and news articles by different topics. Look for corporate websites with a similar setup to your own.
- Complex information such as your business model or strategy
You want visitors to understand your business and the value that you are creating at a glance. This is an excellent case study for when it's best to mix and match content styles to maximise user engagement. Describing your business model in writing is one thing, but adding an illustration or infographic that further explains it will help your visitors grasp this better and more quickly.
Learn from others
In an ideal scenario, we’d base all our decisions on user behaviour and build our sites up from that. For most companies, costs and resource availability makes this impossible, so be smart and use existing research.
For example, when designing your search results page, use insights provided by Google, and when updating your corporate content, look at our Webranking research and its best practice examples. You can also benchmark your industry peers and decide if you want to go the same way - or if you want to stand out!
When best practice becomes a pitfall
Relying solely on best practice examples can quickly turn into a pitfall. Copying what others are doing might be easy enough, but it will eventually dilute your brand. Remember to always consider your own strengths and target groups before rushing into making changes.
Put your effort into the content that is important to stand out from your peers.
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