We get so inspired working with our users every day and seeing the amazing ways they organize their online world. We’ve highlighted a few sites and tips below. We think you’ll love them and leave feeling inspired.
Add a Custom Logo
Adding a custom logo is an easy way to noticeably improve the look of your site. Brendan Flynn, a Wikispaces Private Label customer from Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical School, has helped teachers across his district create wikis. He shared his experience with us: “When it comes to designing logos, less is more. I always tell students to design logos first in just black and white. Take color out of the equation.”
Banner-like logos – i.e. narrow logos that span the top of the wiki – are a great way to go. You can take full advantage of the space at the top of your page. You may also want to consider adding a transparent background to your logo as Brendan has. This way, your logo can blend in with your existing background. There’s plenty of software out there to do it, but two free and easy ones are Google Drawings and Pixlr.
(Note: if you have a lot of wikis in your organization, using our Private Label service comes in handy here as well. You can assign your school logo to the top of every school wiki by default.)
Add a Welcome Message
The front page of your Wikispaces wiki or the Home wiki on your Private Label site is important real estate. It’s the first thing your users see, so we encourage users to take time to edit it and welcome folks stopping by. Coonara Community House Training in Melbourne, Australia has done an excellent job of this. Their home page has a simple welcome message describing the goals of the site, their contact information in case anyone needs to reach them, and a picture to spruce up their site.
You may also want to check out their Ementor wiki. There they share specific information about who they are and how their visitors can use and navigate the wiki. And with a few small changes – a great color scheme and an embedded Voki widget – their wiki became a fun place to visit.
We spoke with Karen George at Coonara about her experience. “Every day, we are learning new things, adding widgets and gadgets to make the learner experience much more engaging. We also don’t forget about our trainers. The sites need to be pleasing to the eye, easy to navigate and easy to find the information we need. We are all time poor so design and ease of use is a must. Tutors who once resisted are now using the sites to get their work done…It’s now an expectation that all staff access appropriate wiki sites to keep themselves informed.”
Kristine Roshau and Concordia University do a great job combining a clear welcome message with a snazzy logo. Take a look below.
Create an Editable Website
We recently unveiled a new option for your wiki: our editable website mode. This mode lets you hide the management tools of the wiki so your users see a simple clean interface. A lot of our users have told us they love this new mode, including Karen from Coorana. She chooses this mode when creating wikis for groups who need to view and access resources on a site but won’t be editing.
Use Buttons for Navigation
Maria Sardo and her colleagues from Sysco have created an easy-to-use homepage for their wiki on their Private Label site. Diane, a member of their team, created a beautiful streamlined design that uses graphics for navigation buttons. Her team uses them to easily move around the site.
Sharmaine Sharusan, a Private Label customer from Everest College, created a smartphone-like experience for her users and shared her design secrets with us.
“I used a simulated button design to mimic the familiarity of apps that most users are accustomed to seeing on their smartphones. Most of those links open in a new window/tab while still allowing them to have access to the original homepage.
“Additionally, I chose the size of the buttons in order to fit on screens with lower resolutions. And I chose icons and words for the visual recognition of the service/website they would be accessing. The other clever thing I did was make each row a separate page. The same buttons can be seen on other sites within our Private Label. In the long-run, this makes it easier to swap out icons on the homepage just by making a change on the included page.”
Create a Site Directory on Your Homepage
In large schools and districts, the amount of resources and information can be daunting. By adding a little structure, Mike Baker of South Side Area School District in Pennsylvania, made it easy for people to access and add to the information they want.
“We use our Private Label as our students’ homepage in the computer lab. This allows even Kindergarten students to click the home button and go directly to a common starting point. We have our students using the ‘Rover’ app on their iPads and going to the bookmarked student wiki. All of the district’s online learners access various courses via our wiki. This concept is quick to edit and keeps students organized.”
Above are a few simple ideas for creating a stunning, easy-to-navigate, and effective home page. We hope you’re inspired by your fellow users’ designs. We’re always looking to see more. Feel free to share your work of art with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter.