As big business grows more confident and open in the digital space, Jason Frank looks at recent SAS-designed sites that reflect new trends and thinking.
In recent months we've been busy helping some fascinating organisations to develop their new digital presence - Sainsbury's, Standard Chartered Bank, Xstrata, The Crown Estate, Home Retail Group, Electrocomponents .....
It's revealing to stand back with the benefit of hindsight and look at what these experiences have taught us and what they collectively tell us about the 'state of the digital nation':
1. Content is king when it comes to successful corporate website development
The unique Xstrata team and culture proved what we'd always known but had never proved: if you can plan, produce and approve content quickly you can defy the usual laws of corporate website projects. The phase one site was launched in under two months. Our other projects provided yet more evidence that for the majority of organisations, multiple functional silos and stakeholders and often complex content creation and approval procedures mean there are few shortcuts.
2. We're on the cusp of a social media tipping point but...
For Sainsbury's, social media-enabled conversations were at the heart of our thinking, for others less so - but the life of corporate content and reputations outside the website has been a consideration and part of a longer-term digital plan for almost everyone. Companies have finally moved from attending social media conferences to actually doing something about it. However, the genuine change of organisational mind set required to truly embrace social media feels a long way off for most.
3. The penny has well and truly dropped on the importance of corporate digital communications
Despite the recession and the uncertainty, all of our clients found - and kept - the focus, the budget and the resources to make these projects happen properly. From the Board down there was an understanding that corporate websites play a pivotal role in the management of corporate reputations. There was proper requirements gathering, a reasonable amount of user experience and a genuine desire to tell the corporate story.
4. Quick, commoditised, painless corporate websites remain a pipe dream
Given that every organisation faces a unique blend of technical, stakeholder and communications issues, the cheap and cheerful 'out of the box' corporate website feels further away than ever.
Xstrata had a new brand and a brutal deadline to contend with; for Standard Chartered we had to deal with its corporate site being the window to millions of retail and commercial customers; and for Sainsbury's we were grappling with the blurring lines between consumer and corporate audiences. Three very individual sets of issues and objectives from three very distinctive organisations led to three very unique sites in the way they look, feel and behave.
5. And a footnote... R.I.P Flash