Building, accelerating, and reinventing racing
A century-old sport, reinvented: silent, without CO2 emissions and circuits in the middle of the city – Formula E offers unique experiences, both offline and online. Brands such as Michelin, BMW, Heineken, and Boss have already linked their name to the increasingly popular motorsport, while the young fanbase is quickly expanding. Fans, who from now on, can get even closer to their favourite driver via the brand-new app, in which smart race data, innovative Augmented Reality solutions and a live race centre come together.
Given that Formula E is 100% electric, this opens the door to previously unknown possibilities thanks to new technology. One such possibility allows spectators to play an active role in the race’s outcome by boosting their favourite driver’s racing car during the race through an online voting system. This so-called ‘FanBoost’ grants more horsepower by the number of fans a driver has. Now that’s innovative engagement 2.0. And it doesn’t stop there, because, in the race of the future, you are closer to your sport than ever before. The Formula E app gives you everything you need for a top-of-the-line race day experience. Check where famous artists are performing, virtually race against your favourite drivers in race simulators, follow live qualifications and get the latest news and important developments at any time throughout the day’s event.
Augmented reality and a live race centre come together
On the platform, both brands and events surrounding the day’s racing along with fan engagement meet in a single integrated experience. In this digital world of motorsport, it’s all about socials and influencers, but live interaction is an equally important part of the sport. The app supports this concept through tribe building, a means which enables visitors to slowly develop into real fans. The focus here is on personal and contextual touch points in which sponsored brands are also relevant in the moment. Think of live race reports, tracking board radios and accident updates.
Power of data
Apart from the fact that the app enriches the fans with information along with an entertaining experience, the platform is also smart. It adapts to varying circumstances since race days are dynamic, different in every city and change yearly. Therefore, Dept developed a feature – linked to Google Maps – that adjusts every year. It informs people about where they are, what they can do and how they can get somewhere. Making the app always up to date and relevant. In addition, the app makes it easy for potential fans to indulge in Formula E knowledge: What exactly is so interesting? Who are the heroes? What are their rankings? And what is so different from our well-known Formula 1?
Smart data, full experience, social updates, contact with drivers and event information are seamlessly integrated; from the moment you decide to buy a ticket, up until race day, and up to the moment you return home satisfied.
Roadmap to the future
Innovation is key, but the app’s development is merely a starting point for Formula E. As we speak, a larger, integrated platform supplemented with a website, is in the making. The development roadmap also includes the integration of Augmented Reality. Meaning further improvement of impressive experience features, such as the possibility to display both the racing cars and drivers in 3D, as well as the ability to virtually follow the race from each driver’s track position. All the while Artificial Intelligence thinks about possible outcomes of the race, which it discusses with you through the use of a conversational UI.
Formula E is more than a racing series. The knowledge gained on the circuit helps to make our already reliable electric cars even better, smarter and more beautiful. We are excited to be contributing to this via the developed super app, which will be extended even further with an all-encompassing website. Ultimately, we’re providing one global experience that brings all aspects of the Formula E race together. Not just for modern fans, but also for the race teams and the innovative brands connected to the motorsport – unique in today’s sports world. We are proud of this!
Rolling out one coherent website, worldwide
The professional division of General Electric, GE Lighting, required a standardised, global digital platform to lower costs, improve quality and reduce time to market. The fragmented infrastructure model caused duplicated effort, high costs, lack of consistency and slow response times, all of which were preventing the business from communicating effectively with their global audience. Dept entered the game to develop an integrated platform, combining central control with local flexibility.
Switching GE Lighting from a fragmented to a centralised digital infrastructure model meant consolidating regional processes, tools and development. Our objective was to ensure that brand consistency and local needs would be met by developing a solution that would enable the easy and efficient sharing of localised content, and re-usable rich media. This all resulted in a global platform, to support fourteen consistent websites.
Seeing the light, with a new, flexible and integrated platform
We managed the global rollout to thirteen countries, across four continents, in nine languages. By bringing disparate systems together into a single, global platform, GE Lighting has benefitted from reduced operational costs and an increase in efficiency. It can now utilise consistent, reusable global assets, templates and processes, which has the added benefit of ensuring consistency across the organisation, and aiding localisation. The project was recognised at a GE group level, with the internal team receiving an award for the project.
An experience like nowhere else
Famous for its ties to the Royal Family and rich history of hosting world-class horse racing tournaments, Ascot is a legacy brand in the equestrian community. Since 1711, the iconic racecourse has evolved into two, year-round race tracks, a popular filming location and focal point for hospitality. Royal Ascot is Britain’s most popular race meeting, with £7.3m in prize money and welcoming 300,000 racegoers across five days each year.
Transforming brand perception
Ascot Racecourse came to Dept with a unique challenge; they had a best-in-class venue with global brand recognition, but their digital presence was far behind where they wanted it to be. With years of legacy content, functionality and an overwhelming amount information, our teams took on the challenge of completely reconstructing the Ascot online experience.
This involved redefining Ascot’s digital brand positioning with the release of a new website. The platform captures the vibrancy and dynamism of the racecourse, whilst delivering website visitors with a clear guide to the venue etiquette. An exploratory online experience is achieved through sleek user-journeys, seamlessly integrating with Ascot’s back-of-house systems and infrastructure, whilst providing a stunning website experience.
Unlocking the Ascot digital experience
Conceptualising a digital estate
A high-level of preparation was carried out to devise a plan of action, which radically repositioned the brand offering to focus on the lifestyle aspect of this world-renowned sports brand.
Over a 10-week period, Dept led a series of discovery, UX and branding workshops with Ascot to fully understand the market they operate in, and to pinpoint opportunities based on their position within it. This involved drilling down into Ascot Racecourse’s target personas to identify who they are, what they’re looking for, and what their pain points are, in order to map their key, on-site journeys. Based on this research, Dept comprehensively wireframed the optimum site structure for the platform, taking into consideration the research and recommendations from our SEO and CRO teams.
Image is everything
The revamped Ascot website harnesses the enchanting experience a visit to the racecourse encompasses, through embedding the fashion, flare and excitement with a compelling, memorable and highly engaging user experience. The imagery on the site are editorial-style images of people enjoying the different parts of the venues such as drinking champagne, cheering at the races, eating in groups or on dates or laughing in the kids’ corners. This brings Ascot’s value offerings to the surface and visually demonstrates the broad appeal and openness of the venue which, in turn, has driven commercial results.
A taste of class was instilled site-wide, bringing the opulence of Ascot’s hospitality offering forward through intelligent design. Dept adopted the Ascot brand guidelines in a modern, fresh way that attracts new patrons, yet is still recognisable, to ensure the site maintains popularity among its loyal, long-standing guests. The font, colours, layout and content structure of the website nods to royalty, with blues, subtle animations, clean white space, picture-led content, clear call-to-actions, and smooth user-journeys.
Capturing the glamour of the race day experience
Information at your fingertips
Data, insight and Ascot’s objectives of expanding its hospitality venues and broadening its consumer base inspired the content hierarchy and user journeys on the new ascot.co.uk website. Findings from our research indicated that there was a lot of uncertainty for people contemplating attending an event at Ascot, which ultimately prevented them from booking. For example, users were concerned about parking, dress codes, and how the weather affects the day. Helpful guides were created and incorporated within the homepage design to clearly communicate this information. Likewise, the ‘Plan Your Day’ feature was redefined to bring key details to the forefront that were previously buried across the platform, feeding users relevant information and creating upselling opportunities through tailored packages.
Creating a slick mobile experience
Engaging mobile experience
With digital becoming increasingly mobile-led, it was essential to create a website that presents the Ascot brand in a visually impactful way. Due to the sheer size and amount of images, our team optimised the code and files extensively for speed and performance, ensuring it is fully responsive and performs excellently across all devices.
In taking a robust mobile-first approach, the UX and CRO teams worked closely with Ascot to audit and condense their online information from thousands to hundreds of pages, and structured the sitemap to tailor to audience personas. In the process of refocusing the website on the experience of attending the races, industry-specific content was minimised. Key content pages such as the Royal Ascot Style Guide, information on the four enclosures and the ‘Plan Your Day’ sections, were fully restructured and optimised for mobile viewing to ensure customers can discover and enjoy the content, wherever they are.
In the design, Dept moved Ascot away from a top-heavy ‘mega-nav’ to a mobile friendly ‘hamburger’ menu with an expandable secondary bottom navigation for users to search for racedays. The website modules were designed for mobile users and include more prominent calls to action. Extensive user testing was carried out with focus-groups, with equal weight given to mobile and desktop usage prior to launch.
Conversion rate increase
Online revenue growth
Growth in mobile transactions
The relaunch was a huge success, providing Ascot with a solid foundation to grow their digital presence. The new website was released during a key sales period for Royal Ascot, and recorded exceptional results that far exceeded the goals Ascot initially set for Dept.
As a result of digitally repositioning Ascot through the new website launch, ticket sales and revenue increased which was a prime objective for the undertaking. These statistics were taken from the first six weeks after launch:
- 21.32% year-on-year increase in revenue generated through the platform
- 41% year-on-year increase in e-Commerce conversion rate
- 22% year-on-year increase in transactions
- 22% year-on-year increase in the quantity of items purchased
- 2.11% year-on-year increase in organic traffic, despite more than a 90% reduction in live pages on the platform.
- 26.38% year-on-year increase in average session duration
The improvements made to Ascots mobile experience has been instrumental in driving conversions:
- 54% increase in transactions via mobile
- 41% increase in revenue generated through mobile transactions
- 50% increase e-commerce conversion rate on mobile
- Average session duration on mobile increased by 26% year-on-year
- Improved user experience with average pages viewed on path-to-purchase reduced by 20% year on year
- 10% increase in the number of visitors to the Raceday Fixtures page
- +1.5 million views of ‘What to Wear’ content pages
- The ‘Plan Your Day’ section saw a 147% increase in page views
Ascot and Dept have a longstanding partnership, collaborating on various projects involving design, UX, web and mobile app development, through to digital marketing campaigns. As one of the UK’s most long-standing brands, our teams value the opportunity to work alongside their in-house team to uphold their digital estate and innovate how digital is activated across their channels.
Finding the perfect pitch with Haven’s app
Haven owns and operates 37 family holiday parks in the UK, providing caravans, touring and camping facilities in coastal locations, filled with activities and entertainment for all ages. Haven is part of Bourne Leisure Ltd, which also owns Warner Leisure Hotels and Butlin’s. Founded over forty years ago, Bourne Leisure is now the largest, privately-owned holiday operator in the UK. Haven turned to Dept to build a web-based application that would enable holidaymakers to pick their perfect caravan pitch.
Pick your pitch
Haven’s goal for this project was to create an application that would improve its guests’ experience by enabling them to select a pitch of their choice. Previously, pitches were assigned upon arrival, so Haven identified this excellent opportunity and turned to Dept.
Choose Your Holiday Home (CYHH) is a web-based application for users who have already booked a holiday with Haven. The aim of the application is to offer the holidaymaker the chance to pick their own caravan pitch, or upgrade their current booking for an additional fee.
The application uses Google Maps API and adds layers of artwork onto the map to help display the Haven park in detail. Users can see where points of interest are such as activities, food and facilities. You can also take a look inside the caravans that are available, to help users to choose a location that suits them best. CYHH helps to ensure that Haven customers have one less thing to think about as they prepare for their trip.
Dept designed and built a brand-new user interface (UI) for the app. To keep things modern, Dept opted to use Google Maps instead of the custom maps previously used. The image carousel for the caravans has been upgraded to be more detailed and engaging.
With a large number of customers visiting the app via their mobile devices (but not necessarily converting), the focus of the latest phase of work was been on mobile acquisition; through improved usability, the number of caravan bookings via mobile is increasing, and is now the largest channel for conversion.
Park map and photo gallery are customers’ favourite features
An ambitious development of a web-based app
The CYHH application is currently being piloted for three parks, with plans for it to be rolled out to a further 34 parks. The future roadmap includes multi-unit bookings, ability to leave reviews and ‘travel with’ functionality, which will enable groups of holidaymakers staying in multiple caravans to find eachother’s booking and pick adjacent plots. Multi-Booking ties into this too, enabling a user to pick the plots for multiple caravan bookings.
A pitch perfect solution
By allowing guests to view a map of the parks, the users are able to find the perfect pitch for their holiday. The application uses responsive design so is available across all devices. There is evidence of this based on the mix of device based conversion rates since inception.
Additionally, Dept has also built a front-end system that isn’t dependent on a back end and can use any API. Not only does this make the application future-proof and easy to extend, it also helps us to maintain the product. This can lead to future enhancements such as widgets, mobile apps, reality, street view and satellite images. This will significantly increase the customer’s experience in the future.
As mentioned, Haven is now using the Google Map API which has opened up possibilities to using more functionality such as virtual reality, street view and satellite images. This can significantly increase the customer’s experience in the future!
Google Map API enables exciting functionality
Working with a retained team
Haven works with a retained team at Dept who focus solely on this project, comprising Front End Developers, Business Analysts, UX Designers, Quality Assurance consultants and a Product Owner. Haven benefits from working with a team that has accrued in-depth knowledge of the project, with the ability to quickly deliver for the client. The retained team follow agile delivery principals, delivering work in two-week sprint cycles.
Connecting with customers
The success of the CYHH application can be measured in two ways: the total money made by the application, and the number of successful bookings.
The value for the application is found within the number of bookings themselves. The +400 bookings made via the app in the first few weeks of launch demonstrates that there is a large demand for this post-booking service.
With an additional 34 parks due to go live in the future, the monetary and business value attached to the project is likely to increase dramatically.
In the six months since the project went live, the team gathered a large amount of customer feedback from HotJar polls, recordings and heatmaps. Taking the feedback on board and listening to what Haven’s customer’s want from the app has led to consistent, iterative improvements. These have seen the app’s net promoter score increase by over 30 points. With further improvements planned before launching across the additional 34 parks, it’s likely that the app will reach the highest bracket of net promoter scoring.
“The team that Dept assembled were outstanding in both ability, energy and enthusiasm. The results have been outstanding with some of the fastest time-to-market results we have ever seen, and we now work with a combination of quick agile deliveries combined with a much longer horizon back-log,” says Neil Hobbs, IT Director, Haven. “The Dept team are also instrumental in our test & learn approach, helping validate the success or otherwise of the minor tweaks we make.”
Falling In love with Switzerland digitally
From the Matterhorn to St Peter’s Island to the Viamala Gorge, Switzerland offers thousands upon thousands of incredible destinations to experience. Perhaps the one thing Switzerland Tourism was missing, in a country with so much to offer, was a central, singular place to compile all of these experiences. That’s why the country’s national tourism marketing organisation partnered with Dept. Together, we created a unique platform to encourage more people to visit Switzerland and to provide that central source of information. The result takes you on a journey through the breathtaking beauties of Switzerland and enables you to find all relevant booking information right at your fingertips.
Immerse yourself in Switzerland
MySwitzerland.com is the backbone of communication between Switzerland Tourism and tourists around the world. The new platform that we built together presents over 45,000 travel destinations, routes, events, sights, experiences and accommodations in 16 different languages. All shown in detail, located on a map and directly linked to all relevant partner platforms for bookings.
Taking you on a digital journey through the breathtaking beauties of Switzerland
Creating guiding Principles to lead our design process
We didn’t just want to link to ticket windows with this new design. The aim of the new platform was to demonstrate the breathtaking and diverse world of Switzerland via inspiring stories, travel routes, holiday destinations and events. We wanted to translate the exciting and memorable experience one has when visiting Switzerland to a digital experience accessible to all, anytime and anywhere. Based on this vision, our local team established guiding principles for our visual concept:
Using a sophisticated grid system and the principles of atomic design, we create various content modules that had a similar structure bit that varied in placement, thus enabling adaptive rendering.
Less is better
To ensure a smooth and simple browsing process, we limited content to one column to make it easy on the eye and facilitate scanning of a page. The top-level navigation was also reduced and introductory texts were kept short which guide a user towards a more detailed page
Users can browse through multi-layered content and thus find inspiration for their trip across the entire website. For example, via the homepage, one can access the Inspiration Calendar which provides inspiration and access to numerous topics. The “Destination Pages” and storytelling pages illustrate a digital experience of various regions.
Establishing a design baseline
We started off by creating a grid system based on the brand’s logo to ensure brand representation and uniformity while also giving us a baseline to work with when creating new layouts. Based on the existing logo and our vision of the website, we built up a library of core colours, fonts and symbols which created a foundation upon which all components could be built. These design principles served as rules when creating new layouts.
Ensuring a solid information infrastructure
The core of any solid web portal is based on a thought-out information architecture. So when coming up with the navigation concept, we adopted a hierarchical approach to the organisation of the website and fine-tuned our ideas using tree testing, a technique for evaluating the findability of topics with users.
However, we didn’t only rely on the tree test, using multiple additional user tests we ensured that the navigation was optimal by comparing different design approaches. We also conducted visual checks, via workshops and user tests, of the various navigation concepts we had created. This ensured that no one clicked away due to a poor navigation experience and that the platform had a strong information architecture.
Harnessing AI to deliver the best experience across all devices
Even though we ensured a smooth navigation process for the user, the website is content heavy. So after tagging and connecting each image to certain topics or pages, we leveraged the power of artificial intelligence and implemented an algorithm that automatically prepares over 80,000 images stored in the system in the correct formats for all output devices and connection speeds. This ensures that the right images that are tagged and matched to the content that is displayed in addition to a quicker page loading time.
Pure inspiration during all times of the year
To showcase that there were numerous activities and areas to explore no matter the time of year, we created an interactive and inspirational calendar. Using 48 drone videos each lasting 15 seconds, users can browse through each month of the year or choose a region on a map and see destinations in addition to facts about each place. Users can float over gorges and city-scapes and immerse themselves in the sights and sounds of each place.
Incorporating a top-class virtual reality experience
These drone videos are featured on the homepage and are meant to entice and inspire users. However, we wanted to take it up a notch, so we transformed the footage into a virtual reality experience when browsing the website with VR glasses.
To convert flat footage into a 360-degree all-around experience, that enables the users to look around and explore the landscape, we created custom 3D geometries upon which we mapped the video. To avoid distortion, we implemented a basic spherical geometry which we gradually built upon and manually adjusted until we found a grid that met our requirements and allowed an aspect ratio of 16:9. Additionally, the position of the camera also played a decisive role. So depending on the distance of an object to the video, we adjusted the amount of overlaying information. Lastly, to ensure we captured the sweet spots, we constantly carried out tests with VR headsets during the entire process.
Immerse yourself in Switzerland
The new web portal of Switzerland Tourism sets new industry standards. Behind the spectacular presentation of unique destinations and the intuitive user journey lies a wide array of conceptual and technological innovations. From a strong information architecture to VR elements, the new site creates a world of experience for you to immerse yourself in. You can also find all the information needed for planning your next trip: from train and flight booking to the weather current current currency exchange – all the information you need is at your fingertips.
Targeted email automation
Consistently voted one of the best cruise lines in the world, Celebrity Cruises has been providing quality, luxury cruises since 1988. As a leader in the field, Celebrity Cruises wanted to make greater use of email marketing automation to ensure a fast response to specific user actions and bring their customers the information they need rapidly. Together with Dept, this became reality.
Trigger, alert, report
The objective for this project was to create a fast-acting triggered email system using ExactTarget, so that users receive automated emails with useful information when they complete specific Tridion or ShortStack forms on the website. As part of this, we needed to create two new CRM request types for Ship Visit (SHIPVIS) and Competition (COMPENT) but most importantly to expose an endpoint for third party integrations (like ShortStack/WordPress forms) to call the CRM/ExactTarget implementation.
For this project, the Dept Digital Operations Services team wanted to build in an improved error reporting and enable them to be alerted if certain parameters were not met e.g. if three CRM request types fail within an hour. In addition, we created a Kibana dashboard where the client can easily see reports on successful and failed submissions into their CRM, the database and for their emails.
A fast-acting triggered email system, for receiving useful information
Working with Celebrity’s internal IT and infrastructure team we developed an effective solution which required us to refactor the current form submission process. To provide a generic way of submitting a number of different submission types, the team settled on a polymorphic design pattern to choose the relevant fields and templates for the submission.
We exposed a new controller action to allow third party integrations with ShortStack forms, using a discriminator to describe the submission type. This allowed requests that used both the existing CRM integration and a new ExactTarget integration to store the data, submit to the CRM service and trigger emails in ExactTarget. Using Log4Net.ElasticSearch we were able to index the result of any of the above requests into ElasticSearch and use this data to create statistical dashboards in Kibana and fire alerts when any errors arose using ElastAlert.
To achieve the successful implementation of the project Dept supplied additional support to Celebrity Cruises’ internal teams to get their Siebel implementation mapping to the forms correctly. We also introduced the ELK stack and ElastAlert as a new technology into the Celebrity Cruises’ infrastructure, this provides future opportunities for adding more metrics in, to enhance analytics.
Celebrity Cruises’ brochure upload FTP application has been added into the monitoring service to track issues with brochure request uploads. This was an area of serious impact on customer experience, so being able to simply add monitoring of it into the system was a great way to build on the work we have done and mitigate the problem.
The analytics provided on the dashboard are straight-forward and the types of requests that come through regulate trends in a fast and visual way. Non-technical users can identify issues and the marketing team are able to identify the quantity.
A new visual design for Transavia, it’s a pleasure!
Part of the Air France-KLM group, Transavia operates from six home bases in The Netherlands and France, including its main bases at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and Paris Orly. The ambition is for Transavia to become Europe’s leading airline in hospitality and service. The key objective hereby is to add new routes, appeal to business passengers as well as leisure, and create a dominant online brand.
Creating a dominant online brand
The re-branding was an integrated process combining company strategy, e-commerce and brand design. Transavia started to work on a new e-commerce platform to increase ancillary sales, improve the conversion of flights and reduce operational costs. Having identified the need to redefine Transavia’s positioning and visual identity in accordance with the new e-commerce strategy and concept, Studio Dumbar (part of Dept) was invited to join the team.
The new visual design is playful, accessible and flexible
It began by developing Transavia’s new positioning. The two most important results were changing the name from Transavia.com to Transavia, and defining “It’s a pleasure” as the leading principle for the company. The design is playful, accessible and flexible. A special feature is the application of icons to the underbelly of Transavia’s planes, with a different combination of icons for each plane in the fleet. Another symbolic livery feature appears next to the entrance, where the word ‘Welcome’ is written in all the languages of the countries served by Transavia. The identity has been rolled out across the brand including uniforms, catering trolleys, in-flight amenities and more.
Finding your dream holiday with just one simple click
The main objective of Vacanceselect is offering the best vacations, based on the personal wishes of the customer. But being active in 9 different countries and in 12 languages, having thousands of different ads and having to take into account the availability of the campsites, it is quite a kill to find the dream holiday easily.
Machine learning, relevance and predictive data
For Vacanceselect, Dept created a campaign that called for finding your dream camping holiday with a simple click. By serving personalised ads in combination with personal landing pages, based on machine learning, we’ve created not only insights into the wishes of the customer, but also in the availability of the campsites. This way bookings can be made as easy as pie.
The best holidays, based on the personal wishes of the customer
By dividing the campaign in three pillars, emphasis was laid on several aspects. The first aspect concerned the automation of the availability of the campsites. Meaning that unavailable campsites are being paused automatically and campsites with high availability will get higher bids and positions. This all with the help of using machine learning. The second aspects concerned optimizing relevance. Relevance in ad copy and dynamic landing pages were the key factors for addressing new visitors, returning visitors and existing customers. This way the user gets exactly the information he or she needs. The third, and last aspect concerned the use of predictive data. Using this data, the booking behaviour of customers can be predicted, which leads to the exact knowledge in which period people are more likely to book their vacation.