When we design custom themes for clients, we ask them what the key design themes are on their intranets. Quite often their answers are along the lines of: “We would like our intranet to have a corporate look, but also feel fun and engaging.”
What does this actually mean, and how do you achieve such a thing?
Designing “corporate, but fun” intranets requires a clever balancing act. It’s very easy to go over the top one way or the other, and ruin the design altogether. Below are some of the things we think about when we design for both:
1. Keep the page background white.
It’s important to keep the background neutral. This way it won’t limit your use of imagery or color elsewhere. We sometimes use a background image to frame a white content area in fixed-width designs, but it’s important to ensure the background image isn’t too de-saturated or dark.
2. Keep the color palette simple and fonts to a minimum.
A two- or three-color palette is usually more than enough for an intranet. The more colors you use in your design, the more confused the theme of your intranet will be.
Intranets, unlike websites, contain multiple blocks of content that use the same colors. Therefore, intranets require fewer colors. We often use background colors and fonts to distinguish between or highlight certain blocks of content.
3. Limit bold color blocks.
Too many bold colors in a design usually indicate a less corporate theme. If you use them sparingly, bold color blocks can effectively highlight important areas or functions.
4. Use images of people.
Images of people give the intranet a personal and approachable feel. People introduce warm colors to the design. We encourage clients to use images of their staff if they have some.
5. Avoid using monochrome or de-saturated imagery.
The fewer colors an image has, the less it presents a warm, friendly feel. But, excessively colorful images can have the opposite effect. The best policy is to use images of real things—people, scenery—with natural color palettes.
It’s not easy to find the balance between corporate and fun, but it’s achievable when you follow a few simple steps.
A version of this article originally appeared on Intranet Dashboard.