How to Fuel Connection Through Custom, Flexible Web Experiences
When it comes to flagship brand websites, it’s important to keep content current and relevant to key marketing moments. Whether adding a desired “wow” factor or signifying a key moment for the brand, custom web experiences can differentiate a platform, a brand or its content—yet many content management systems (CMS) are rigid and difficult to adapt, resulting in experiences that can feel dull even when you have the resources to keep fresh content flowing.
This was key to the design of our website, particularly our homepage, which emulates the look and feel of a newspaper. The format calls for experiences that feel new and contemporary on a regular basis, compounded by the accelerated pace in which our industry changes. Now one year since the launch of our brand, we’re looking at how our approach to content curation has panned out, solving key challenges that many brands face when it comes to delivering distinct digital experiences or breathing new life into their legacy content.
Set a foundation for flexibility at scale.
“Our homepage was designed to mark special moments in time, like a turning point for the company or when something is trending industry-wide that we have a strong point of view on,” says Vinicius Araujo, Creative Director. One recent moment was the release of The Transformation of Digital, our report detailing how consumer behaviors are shaping a new era of virtualization. To celebrate the launch of the report, our homepage took a new look: a unique color scheme, a curation of thematic content and an animated logo that represents the report’s visual identity.
Such an overhaul to the homepage may seem like a significant investment of time and resources, though the flexibility baked into our CMS made it a simple overnight change. Easy-to-update components and customizable fields also ensure that bespoke designs are scalable into the future. “It’s always ready to be updated in a heartbeat,” says Araujo. “And it’s ephemeral: it’s only there for a week, and then it’s gone.”
Our system is easy to use, but it’s balanced very well with our identity and ongoing marketing strategy. When design isn’t built to complement marketing activities, websites can become stale and flatline.
On the flipside, the flexibility baked into our website keeps our content timely while ensuring we can authentically represent the breadth of our capabilities. At the same time, brands following a similar approach can iterate experiences that support the different needs of diverse audiences. “In curating the content for the virtualization takeover, one thing we considered was: How do we get someone who doesn’t want to digest the whole report to understand what this is?” noted Gardner, who gathered a wide selection of content that make virtualization tangible while also representing the diverse skills of our team.
Collaboration enables new ways to shape and expand content.
With our homepage takeover, it was important to build an experience that felt distinct right from the jump—not exactly separate from the other content on the website, but something that commanded attention as soon as people landed on the website.
The homepage has the shock factor when you enter. The first impression is completely new and different from our typical content, and past that moment everything else feels more familiar. We don't want people to have to relearn how to read our dotcom, so it has to be a measured shock.
The first thing viewers saw when loading the page was a reanimated Media.Monks logo that leverages the bespoke identity crafted for the report—all built around a design language of four quadrilateral shapes that represented key themes of the virtualization report: ownership, identity, community and experience. These adapting shapes interact with each other at different frequencies throughout the report, keeping the audience focused on the insights. “It was important to create a wrapper that wouldn’t alienate the audience,” says Benjamin Tuffy, Design Director, noting that using iconography like VR headsets or futuristic environments could either limit virtualization’s scope, overwhelm non-technical readers or simply feel irrelevant for those who aren’t engaged in those channels.
But the shapes are just one kind of graphical element that made their way from the report to the homepage design. In discussing the role that bespoke experiences can play in enhancing the original source material, Tuffy spoke about a collaborative approach between design, copy and growth teams to pull the content into previously unforeseen directions.
Figma mockup showing the connection between our report and custom web experience throughout the design process.
The bit I enjoyed most from the experience was finding key hooks in the language of the report that we could use to visually pull people in. The result is a series of spreads that put us on the hook for the statements we’re making.
Curation breathes new life into legacy content.
In addition to finding new ways to visually represent content from the report, our virtualization-themed homepage takeover also provided an opportunity to highlight ways that virtualization impacts different categories and audiences. “Leaders across different regions are bringing the story out to their teams,” says Tuffy, and viewers could see this play out through the content we curated to substantiate the report’s claims.
This highlights another purpose to building around key marketing moments: breathing new life into some of your existing content. In our case, this meant further drawing lines and connections between our multidisciplinary team. “We saw we had some content from Jam3 and a recently published piece by Chief Diversity Officer James Nicholas Kinney, both of which spoke to the purpose of virtualization from two different directions,” says Gardner, noting that the content helped showcase how we’ve been grappling with these ideas long before the report’s release.
Our special-edition homepage sought to leverage our CMS’s flexibility to deliver custom web experiences as new moments arise. Brands seeking to build bespoke, scalable web experiences can follow a similar approach by thematically curating and remixing new or legacy content, while also enhancing it further through added fit-for-format design elements. The result? A differentiated digital experience that never overstays its welcome and dazzles audiences with something new every time they visit.
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