CLF and User Perceptions

31 Oct 2004 - 12:25am
9 years ago
4 replies
604 reads
Adrian Liem
2004

Hi,

I am curious to know if anyone has conducted research to explore issues
around the use of Common Look and Feel (CLF) design templates in the
web?

In particular, I am wondering if any work has been done to consider the
effect a CLF has on the user’s perception of how an organization’s
departments/units are inter-related, and to what extent their perception
of the connectedness on the web translates to their understanding of how
the departments/units are actually connected in terms of organizational
infrastructure in reality.

As an example, several large universities are adopting policies
requiring all university-affiliated websites to adopt particular CLF
elements (e.g. a common header and navigation scheme). Many of these
websites, however, are from departments and units that for all intents
and purposes function independently from one another – the only
commonality in reality being their presence under the larger
infrastructure of the university. The result can be that two (in reality
many more) sites share a “look and feel”, but are in fact completely
separate entities when it comes to the organization of their actual
administration.

I suspect that some users may be confused by the use of CLF and be led
to the false perception that because two sites look and feel the same,
they must be operated by the same people and hence represent a single
entity – when in reality it is more likely that the two
departments/units are in fact completely independent of one another with
the exception of sharing the “common look and feel” of their websites.

Any thoughts? Are there any online references/resources that touch on
this subject?

Thanks in advance.

Adrian

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Comments

31 Oct 2004 - 3:11am
Listera
2004

Adrian Liem:
> In particular, I am wondering if any work has been done to consider the
> effect a CLF has on the user¹s perception of how an organization¹s
> departments/units are inter-related, and to what extent their perception
> of the connectedness on the web translates to their understanding of how
> the departments/units are actually connected in terms of organizational
> infrastructure in reality.

It's hard to answer this important question without reciting the old "it
depends."

Should GE's L&F be the same for its nuclear business as its TV and cable
business? Sony offers microchips, insurance, movies, music and consumer
electronics, should they all share the same L&F? How about a publishing
house with a textbook and romance novels divisions?

Depending on the audience, L&F may have to be different. Often organizations
have a central, descriptive site serving as an umbrella structure that
branches out to more focused/specific sites whose L&F differ in varying
degrees wrt the mothership.

Ziya
Nullius in Verba

31 Oct 2004 - 12:05pm
Chick Foxgrover
2003

On Sun, 31 Oct 2004 04:11:57 -0500, Listera <listera at rcn.com> wrote:

> It's hard to answer this important question without reciting the old "it
> depends."
>
> Should GE's L&F be the same for its nuclear business as its TV and cable
> business? Sony offers microchips, insurance, movies, music and consumer
> electronics, should they all share the same L&F? How about a publishing
> house with a textbook and romance novels divisions?
>
> Depending on the audience, L&F may have to be different. Often organizations
> have a central, descriptive site serving as an umbrella structure that
> branches out to more focused/specific sites whose L&F differ in varying
> degrees wrt the mothership.

I agree. We usually handle this question in the context of a brand and
communications strategy which includes the organization's goals and an
analysis of the audience and their behavior. Also what constitutes
"common" can be a small set of design attributes. See discussion on
recognizability elsewhere in the forum these days. Or those AIGA logo
puzzles. It's interesting to see what minimal amount of input can
trigger recognizability always taking context into consideration.

-----------------------------------------------------
Chick Foxgrover

31 Oct 2004 - 12:18pm
Abhishek Thakkar
2004

> > Often organizations
> > have a central, descriptive site serving as an umbrella structure that
> > branches out to more focused/specific sites whose L&F differ in varying
> > degrees wrt the mothership.

I'd like to use the "divide and rule" policy ....
Different child sites from the same umbrella may feel (interaction)
diffrenet but they'll look(colour scheme, icon family) from the same
family. Just like in Star Wars or star trek, you can identify the clan
(Borg, Vulcan/Klingon, Naboo, Rebel Allaince) just from the look of
the ships although the size (or feel of grandeur) may be different,
from a rescue pod to an imperial star destroyer.
--
Abhishek Thakkar
The Last of the Giants

31 Oct 2004 - 12:48pm
Dave Malouf
2005

I agree w/ Chick that L&F is a small component of overall brand and that for
many complex enterprises, the brand changes through out.

I do like a sense of similarity if the components are interconnected in a
way where the user is expected to navigate between them.

-- dave

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