Velux  : Ill-fitting formats

A one-for-all approach is poorly designed.

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The feature

Velux, Denmark-based windows maker, adopts a one-format-fits-all approach to an annual report.

Velux has produced two versions of its annual corporate responsibility report: a standalone website and a 72-page PDF file. Both are linked from the Corporate responsibility page in the Our company section of its global site. The link to the online report is illustrated with an image of it displaying on a tablet device and the construction of the site itself is designed around the mobile environment. A primary navigation bar provides dropdown menus for each section but the full section content is laid out on one continuous scrollable page, with the links in the dropdown menu ‘jumping’ users to the corresponding sub-section in the page. Expanding panels are used to provide deeper content but navigational support disappears as the primary bar is lost from view and there is no left navigation.

The PDF version is a page-for-page reproduction of the report website behind its own cover page. There is no index and pages follow the sectional sequence of the website working from left to right along the navigation bar and from top to bottom of each of the dropdowns. No page is numbered and each consists of a ‘print page’ version of the web content, complete with blank gaps where video viewing frames would be.

The takeaway

Parallel publication of annual reports in different versions/media is common practice but there is very little conventional about Velux’s adoption of the strategy. Its attempt to stretch a contemporary mobile-friendly design into a one-size-fits-all format is so poorly executed that it fails to exploit the potential of either medium (online/PDF) or of a multi-version approach.

On the mobile/tablet front Velux has not given enough thought to navigation around the content. Its primary bar and dropdowns work fine in taking users to a particular piece of information but fail them entirely if they want to browse, especially in other sections. It seems an unnecessarily limiting – and erroneous – view of how a report is used or how its publisher should want to encourage people to use it. The omission of an index for the PDF version takes the lack of support given to users to another level altogether. The only feasible explanation is that the focus was so heavily on the cost/resource saving measure of ‘photocopying’ online content into PDF that no one stopped to consider it as a publication on its own terms.
First published 03 April, 2014
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