Where we started
Founded by Ville Tolvanen in 2013, the Digitalist Network had in a few years attracted more than 10,000 members, 300 bloggers and 12 partner companies in Finland. What started as a get-together of a few evangelists and a strong vision in the mind of one man, had become a phenomenon: an active community connecting professionals, creating business, sharing information and evoking discussion.
When Ville Tolvanen contacted us in the end of 2016 regarding the renewal of the Digitalist Network website, he came with a significant piece of news: Digitalist Network was to be acquired by Ixonos Plc, which would change its company name to Digitalist Group Plc. Two brands would become one. This was a demanding set-up, especially for visual and UX design.
The starting point was a website with thousands of blog posts created by the community, videos and news clips from events. From a member’s point of view, creating content was not exactly a picnic. It could also be foreseen that the news about the acquisition would evoke strong emotions within the community.
Early planning stages
What we were tasked to do
The redesign was to be a significant improvement of the user experience. Ville asked us to create the new Digitalist Network online service on the terms of the community. Sam Jamsen was behind the renewal of the visual identity of the brand.
“Members were to benefit from the service and the community even more than before. People should receive the shift with content,” Ville says.
“We knew that the community was facing a huge change. We had a big responsibility. That gave us a lot to think about,” says Daniel Kouvo, our developer, who played a key role in the project.
We were asked to lower the threshold and remove barriers from becoming a member and participating. Content should be presented in a compelling way and it should be easy to find. Members should be given easy access for creating their own content and tools to promote their thoughts, skills and profiles. Technically it should be so easy that there would be no need for a helpdesk. Naturally, the solution should be secure and protected. And last but not least, we should prepare the service for international markets.
“The JCO Digital team got a good grip of the brief and started planning the skeleton of the website,” Ville says.
What we did
Improving the user interface was essential in order to create a better user experience. Therefore we put a lot of thought and effort into planning the body and structure of the website. Our wireframe allowed both our team and the customer to experience and test the structure in a browser at an early stage. The visual design began only after we were satisfied with the wireframe.
“The wireframe was really important. It helped us picture the online service as a whole and find the best solution from a user’s point of view,” says developer Björn Zweigberg.
“I was very satisfied with the design process, it was very customer-oriented. The JCO team was very active and made suggestions. I enjoyed the ride,” Ville says.
Another critical phase was importing all data and content from the previous website to the new one.
“We succeeded in importing thousands of articles. We had good tools and were able to automate the import,” Björn comments.
The design process proved its significance also in the very end of the project. Issues that might have come up in the testing phase were eliminated in the very beginning.
“Once we had reached our target, it was important to test that everything worked as planned. With the help of correct tools we were able to run a mobile optimization check already with the wireflows,” says Björn.
“The design process was done so well that we did not face any major issues during testing,” Daniel says.
What we created
Since the renewal, digitalistnetwork.com has attracted many new writers and a lot of new content. Old Digitalist members have become more active. Open job positions are easier to announce and find. The service now has an international aspect, too.
Daniel says that the new website offers a considerably better user experience than before.
“The path from joining the network to seeing your article on the front page of the site has become much simpler. It does not happen any more that people give it up halfway because publishing is so difficult,” Daniel says.
According to Ville, the relationship of the users to the service changed: “We gave members more authority to publish and control their own content. We rebuilt the structure of the service so that taking part is easy whether you wish to publish or read an article, watch a video or attend an event.”
We were glad to see both the community and our customer happy with the outcome.
“The new service has been received very well. It has more users and is more appreciated than before. We have a good basis for carrying out our vision of building an international service. I can strongly recommend the services of the JCO Digital team. This was a very good experience and I like their way of working,” says Ville.
We are proud of our team, who didn’t mind carrying out a demanding project with a tight schedule.
“Our team worked very closely in this project, I really enjoyed that. We did a good job together and supported each other. Projects like this truly strengthen the team spirit,” says Daniel.
Do you have a project in mind? We would love to hear all about your ideas. Depending on your matter, send an email or give Monica a call (+358 45 651 7914)!