Transforming the Eurovision village into a 3D virtual world
The Eurovision Song Contest is the world’s longest-running, international music competition. Since its inaugural event in 1956, 52 countries have participated at least once, creating a fan base that stretches across the globe. Today, over 180 million people tune in to watch the televised competition, with over 20,000 attendees traveling to the host country to enjoy the contest in person.
Usually, The Eurovision Village sits at the heart of the physical experience of the contest; it’s a place where fans can meet up to enjoy the music, socialize and embrace the positive vibes. With the pandemic preventing mass gatherings, for the 2021 contest, Rotterdam Festivals reached out to entertainment agency Tribe Company and DEPT® to recreate the physical atmosphere of The Eurovision Village in a virtual world. The result? A groundbreaking virtual experience; the first of its kind in the Eurovision Song Contest history.
Imagining an electric experience
“If the world can’t come to Rotterdam, we’ll bring Rotterdam to the world.” Early in the creative process, we sought out ways to showcase the spectacle of the stage performances, while conveying the energetic buzz of Rotterdam. Touring the host city is such an important part of attending an international event, and we didn’t want the tens of thousands of people that would normally make the trip to miss out on this experience. Plus, the opportunity to open Rotterdam up to the world to explore was an exciting challenge.
We wanted to evoke the same feeling in the fans as a physical visit; a simple platform filled with live streams wouldn’t suffice. Our creative inspiration led us to design a 3D world, where visitors are invited into a new surrounding to immerse themselves in the magic of the Eurovision Song Contest.
Taking things to the next level
A stable solution for scale
The Eurovision Song Contest is the world’s largest non-sporting TV event. This year’s Village program was predicted to grab even more attention with crowd-pullers including Duncan Laurence, Johnny Logan, Afrojack, and the Junior Song Festival, running alongside the City Programme that offered more than 50 fringe events.
Data from the last competition showed younger audiences are watching the Eurovision Song Contest in greater numbers, and viewership on YouTube during the week of the festival is also on the rise. This evolving viewing behavior, as well as the depth of the new virtual experience, means more people were likely to watch online and, therefore, the platform had to be stable enough to host a rush of global traffic.
Performance, usability and accessibility were essential in the design and carried through into development. The platform is hosted in 12 different regions around the world on Microsoft Azure App Service Plans, and supported by a cloud-based fallback infrastructure, ensuring high traffic accessing the platform is optimally distributed and not dependent on the same type of resources.
The Eurovision Song Contest is acclaimed for being an inclusive event. The theme ‘Open Up’ was selected for this iteration with the warm message of inviting people to open up to others, to different opinions, each other’s stories and of course to each other’s music. Eurovision’s use of technology had to be an extension of these values and not inadvertently exclude anyone.
“If the world can’t come to Rotterdam, we’ll bring Rotterdam to the world.”
Applauding our collaborative approach
The Eurovision Song Contest, its lively village and iconic surroundings were open 24/7, free of charge during the nine-day duration of the festival. The strong collaboration between Rotterdam Festivals, DEPT® and Tribe Company was the key ingredient that led to us delivering this ambitious project at a rapid pace.
Nobody knows exactly what the world will look like in a few months, but it is very plausible that virtual solutions will occupy a permanent place. The 3D virtual village we created for the Eurovision Song Contest demonstrates how a digital world can maintain the offline feeling, truly connecting people, while providing global access for everyone. This project is proof that with the right efforts, even the most legendary events can be turned into a digital success.
Executive Creative Director
Learning to surf from anywhere in the world
La Surfería is a travel and lifestyle company based in Argentina that invites travelers to experience the true surf lifestyle.
DEPT® worked La Surfería to design and build a mobile app that makes learning to surf and traveling to exotic surfing destinations accessible.
La Surfería wants everyone to fall in love with surfing, even if they don’t live anywhere close to the ocean. Traditionally the company has focused on creating travel experiences for surfers, but they wanted to find more ways to reach people. How could they still give the experience of learning to surf to those who can’t access it easily? Through a mobile app, of course. In 2020 travel also slowed down considerably due to the pandemic. This was even more reason to create an immersive digital experience that could bring surfing back into people’s lives even if they were stuck at home.
La Surfería came to DEPT® for help in designing and building an app that would help more people experience the amazing beaches of Argentina and Brazil, and the magic of learning to surf from some of the country’s best professionals. Like many small businesses, the company had a big vision but a fixed budget. So we needed to work together to find the best solution
DEPT® found a way to understand our vision and make it real while also giving us a new revenue source. They helped us transform into the first company that has a real surf app.
– Francisco Morea, Founder
Delivering a great user experience with React Native
The DEPT® team in Argentina quickly got to work with the La Surfería team to bring this vision to life. Initially, we discussed building a website instead of an app, but based on the user experience the company was looking to provide (similar to the immersive experience of a fitness app), we decided to build a React Native app. This way we could easily deploy across Android and iOS more easily. And we could deliver a great user experience but without building a much more expensive native app experience.
We worked with the team to define a vision of a Netflix-like experience for users. where they could browse through surfing instruction videos, watch professional surfers in action, and even watch videos about what it’s like to travel to the company’s hostels and the type of food you would expect to experience while you are there. In addition to videos, the app also needed to have modules for sharing content and news about surfing, tips for training/fitness/nutrition for aspiring surfers, and, perhaps most importantly, the ability to book a future surf trip through the app.
As we began to design and build the app, we had to address how to store and deliver the videos. So we partnered with Mux to use the Mux Video API, which instantly creates the right renditions for every device and bandwidth, resulting in lower costs and better viewers experiences. We also created some features within the app that are exclusive to paid users, giving La Surfería the ability to monetize the app in the future. We integrated in-app purchasing capabilities through iOS and Android, as well as built a separate web-based flow for Argentinians to be able to pay through Mercado Pago, which is a local payment market. This allows people from all over the world to pay through their local currency.
The app was launched into the iOS and Google App Stores in early 2021 and has been well received so far. Users are enjoying the content and tutorials and signing up for subscriptions to get access to even more. Early feedback from users will lead to the next wave of new features to be added to the app in the coming months.
Head of Marketing US
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!
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.
Executive Creative Director
A new visual design for Transavia
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.
Tuck into the future of food
Have you ever been unsure as to what you’d like for dinner and are struggling to find local restaurant menus online? Just Eat Takeaway makes that process easier by gathering the menus of all your favourite local places to eat on one website. So it’s not only a solution for customers but also a gateway for restaurants to reach more people.
Using data to help local restaurants
The global online food delivery marketplace started off as a small Dutch brand and has transformed into a global platform that operates in eleven countries and caters to over fourteen million customers annually. To ensure they remained a leading global player, the company decided to accelerate its digital transformation. The result? A new, innovative B2B marketplace which caters to the needs of restaurateurs by leveraging the wealth of data the company has at its disposal.
Elevating the existing design
Aside from enabling consumers to order food online, the food delivery company also has a B2B marketplace which enables restaurant owners to purchase both food and non-food items from third-party sellers. Using the wealth of customer data at its disposal, Just Eat Takeaway wanted its marketplace to become more data-driven. To make this possible, our team needed to enhance the designs of the current marketplace while also migrating the brand’s existing platform of Magento to Commercetools and Prismic. Thanks to Commercetools API-first capabilities, the company could then provide regional insights into consumer demand which could help local restaurants better tailor their menu’s. In addition to local supply, demand and recommendations of all their items.
To do this, we started by conducting a quick but intensive design sprint during which we analysed the customer journey and current pain points for restaurant owners. This led us to create initial sketches of what the marketplace could look like and we refined this based on the company’s current system, their desires and also Commercetools capabilities. This enabled us to implement new features which focused on creating more customer convenience than ever before. Our team also made a number of functional optimisations such as an improved navigation structure and the possibility to quickly re-order items that one purchases frequently rather than having to comb through the entire catalogue.
Catering to the needs of sellers
One of the biggest challenges of rolling out the new B2B marketplace was the complexity of it as sellers have access to their portal through which they can offer their products. So we designed the new setup with a simpler navigation process which enables each seller to easily visualise each order line per restaurant. By implementing Commercetools this integrated Adyen MarketPay which enables restaurateurs to make one payment which is then divided into the accounts of each seller. The integration process was easy as the company had a headless setup which made it easier to connect external channels to the existing commerce environment.
The next steps? Rolling out the new webshop in other countries while catering to each region’s needs while also continuing to optimise the existing platform based on feedback from both restaurateurs and Just Eat Takeaway. These digital innovations help future-proof the company by renewing its position as a leading global food delivery system.
UX Design & Research Lead
Automation to increase margin and loyalty
Leading European online travel organisation Otravo aims to simplify the holiday booking process by providing users with competitive offers from multiple sources, enabling customers in more than 50 countries to save money while booking flights and holiday packages. Otravo tasked DEPT® with overhauling its marketing automation strategy to deliver more personal and profitable content, drive economy of scale across its suite of booking sites and maximise growth. The project was delivered in tandem with upskilling the in-house digital marketing team to ensure ongoing successful performance.
Otravo’s ambition is to become the go-to platform for travellers through its network of ‘local heros’ (e.g. Vliegtickets.nl, WTC.nl, Vliegtickets.be, Fylgstolen.se and Greitai.lt) and meta booking sites (e.g. Travelgenio, Tripmonster, Travel2be and Schipholtickets).
One of the most significant opportunities DEPT® addressed was how to grow revenue share via owned traffic by increasing the relevance of customer content using marketing automation, making Otravo less reliant on paid channels. Here’s how we did it…
Bridging the gap
DEPT® helped Otravo better connect with potential customers in a personal but scalable way to increase conversion, margin and brand loyalty through owned channels. Otravo wasn’t leveraging the power of its Salesforce Marketing Cloud platform, which is where DEPT® stepped in to bridge the gap.
After completing a full audit of the marketing automation and email campaign set-up of Vliegtickets.nl (one of Otravo’s ‘local hero’ travel booking sites and the biggest in the Benelux), we discovered significant growth potential in:
Fixing the basics
After migrating existing, static email set ups to journey builder, we made it easier for Otravo’s digital marketing team to establish engagement journeys independently. Using custom integrations, we pushed data from the Vliegtickets.nl platform and CRM into Salesforce Marketing Cloud. We used SQL to define the right audience alongside AMPscript to personalise email journeys to improve margins and transactions.
Generating insights over reports
By combining Salesforce Marketing Cloud data (open rates, recovery rates) with Google Analytics stats (sessions, transactions), we demonstrated the potential impact of Vliegtickets.nl through a real-time dashboard that translated insights into actions. This enabled us to distinguish the vastly different approach to booking flights, hotels and cars between two different audience types – business and leisure travellers – that would inform our strategy.
Building a centre of excellence
Alongside the Otravo team, we defined the necessary roles and responsibilities needed to drive future growth. Involving team members in our strategic direction enabled us to provide ‘on the job’ training in setting up, monitoring and improving personalised email journeys to deliver results.
DEPT® implemented this improved set up and trained the in-house marketing team in less than a month.
Enhancing the customer experience with relevant content
Customer insights and preferences were also used to develop the cross selling solution. We analysed lead times of flight bookings, car rentals, hotel bookings and group composition (single, two or more passengers), to discover strong variations. After discovering that the majority of single bookings are for business travellers and that groups of two or more are most often leisure, we implemented a strategy to send different content to business and leisure travellers that best suits their needs; enhancing the customer experience and improving conversion.
Prioritising growth acceleration
DEPT® analysed the customer journey to identify two complementary solutions that would help to drive growth: an abandoned cart solution to reintroduce prospects to the buying journey, and a cross sell opportunity to drive sales after customers purchased flights.
The abandoned cart solution was developed with engagement in mind. After analysing historical data for defined customer segments, DEPT® built message flows that delivered the right message at the right time for different audiences. We also used personalised content, such as the user’s flight information, to direct the customer to a personalised checkout page based upon their individual preferences and behaviours.
After simplifying and personalising the booking process, DEPT®’s strategy generated 50% more margin than originally estimated in the first four months. The solution can be easily scaled across all other ‘local hero’ and meta sites to further maximise ROI for Otravo.
DEPT® has established the fundamentals for Otravo to get the most out of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud. As soon as the market recovers from Covid-19, Otravo will be in a strong position to reactivate abandoned cart customers while driving cross sales of hotels and car rentals in a way that is personal to the user.
Head of Strategy
Peter van Alphen
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.
Managing Director UK
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.
The city of Berlin on Instagram
For @visit_berlin we developed a content strategy whose visual language provides moments of longing and inspiration from the German capital. Trendy spots from the fields of architecture, food, or sights are presented. By communicating Berlin’s current atmosphere, such as weather conditions, new locations or events, @visit_berlin can be perceived as a window to the city.
Discover exciting places through instameets
In order to constantly expand the community and to inspire them for Berlin, we organise quarterly Instameets where we explore exciting places together with local influencers. Some locations are made exclusively accessible to @visit_berlin, such as the Olympic Stadium or Opera Buildings.
User generated content is authentic
The production and organisation of the photo content for @visit_berlin is mainly done by DEPT®. The content is used beyond Instagram for both online and print media: our content is used on Facebook, Twitter, the visitBerlin visitBerlin blog and on the website. An additional integration of user-generated content leads to greater community commitment towards the account.
When we took over the channel, 10,000 users followed @visit_berlin. Since 2014 we have increased the number of followers by more than 1000%. Community management is particularly active and authentic: through the consistent use of high-quality visual language, more than 500,000 user contributions can now be found under the hashtag #visit_berlin.
impressions per image
- More than 140K organic subscriber growth in less than four years
- 500K postings at #visit_berlin Community Hashtag with regular UGC reposts
- Monthly content productions with secondary use on Facebook, Twitter, website and blog
- Organic ranges of up to 100K impressions per image
- Establishment of several topic-related hashtags, e.g. #foodspots_berlin or #secretspots_berlin
Client Services Director
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