Thomson Reuters : Refitting information delivery

Benefit outweighs risk in a shake-up of conventions.

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The feature

Thomson Reuters, US-based specialist information provider, has adapted a related-content device to aid browsing on the current page. Thomson Reuters has an integrated careers microsite in which the sub-menu within each of the four sections is set out in a horizontal string above an interactive featured-content panel. Below the panel and a short introduction/overview is a text box with a light-grey tinted background. To its right is a stack of text banners with paragraph-long summaries; for example, at Working here> Impact there are three titled, respectively, Learning and Development, Community Involvement and Employee Groups. These are also on grey backgrounds, but one is more deeply tinted and its heading and text correspond with the heading and opening sentences of the story in the text box. Mousing over the lighter-grey banners deepens their background tint; on click they refresh the text box content to reflect that in the banner while the darker tinting transfers to the selected banner. A triangular nodule on the right-hand edge of the text box points to the current banner.

The takeaway

Thomson Reuters has taken a fresh look at some fundamentals of site construction and repurposed them to bring an unconventional dynamic to page navigation. Playing around with conventions is a risky business, because it can disorientate site visitors or force them to ‘relearn’ how to move around, which they may not have the time or patience to thank you for. Here, though, the basic elements are familiar in themselves and the ‘tinkering’ delivers a pay off that provides an appropriate benefit to users once they have latched on to it: previewed content is pulled to the current page rather than the user being pushed out to it, which makes browsing much easier – a definite plus in the careers context. Even so, stronger clues could be provided to help visitors recognise what’s going on. For example, the pointer on the text box is too subtle to be noticed initially (the tint is too light) and might even be better on the banner pointing in at the box. And there is a case for locating the banners more conventionally to the left (where there is space), as the content is essentially part of the section navigation. All in all, though, it neatly enhances Thomson Reuters’ positioning as an innovative deliverer of information.
First published 14 February, 2013
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