Foster + Partners : Building confusion
An attempt at a branded heading subverts its descriptive sense.
Foster + Partners, a London-based architects’ practice, clouds the clarity of its section titles.
Foster + Partners’ primary navigation bar carries seven section headings, among them Practice, Team and Data. Practice covers the firm’s three service categories; Team has biographies of company executives and a comprehensive list of partners, associate partners and associates; Data has 10 sub-sections ranging from Philosophy, Way we work and Awards to Publications and Sustainability.
Other primary sections are Projects, News, Contact and Careers.
Foster + Partners’ naming of primary sections for the most part gives clear and intuitive clues to content, but perversely it also adds to the confusion that is created by giving the title ‘Data’ to what is the company information section. Given the clarity all around it, how many visitors would not assume it holds technical, statistical and/or financial information only. Those looking for a company primer are likely to pass it over in favour of Practice and Team, where they will find some of the information normally associated with an ‘about us’ section.
‘Data’ is clearly intended as more of a brand statement than a description: replacing the mundane (‘about us’ or ‘company’) with something more idiomatic reflects a practice ethos that stretches to “interventions within old structures” (as a caption in the home page carousel puts it). The trouble is that from the site user’s perspective it simply doesn’t work as well as the more conventional forms. It would be more constructive to explore ways to bring together the disparate elements of company information, and under a roof that bears a name everyone can recognise.http://www.fosterandpartners.com
First published on 03 May, 2012