PR Website Redesign
From Confusing & Clunky to Clear & Concise
Coffee Pic #2
The STARZ "Mediaroom" website had existed in one form or another for years. It was created and used by our Public Relations team as a means of communication with members of the media–a place for the PR team to post everything from Press Releases to exclusive photography and pre-release video content. It was originally created using an external CMS from a company specializing in News and Media, and it was a mess. The CMS had never really served the needs of the PR team very well, and had been expanded so many times that it had become a bit of a Frankenstein. So, when STARZ went through its last major rebrand, they came to the UX team for a new, custom site that would better fit their needs.
I worked as lead UI/UX designer on this project, along with one fellow designer. Together with the development team and project manager, we set up our own timeline and project plan for all phases of design work for the project. The old site had a number of major issues that needed fixing, and the PR team had additional requests for new features and functionality that we needed to accommodate. Some of the big ticket items on the list included:
New Information Architecture
The old website had several different "access" areas, each of which required separate login credentials and had a different UI. Each section dedicated to a single show was housed within an iFrame and populated with Flash-based content. The section of the old site created for watching videos lived on an entirely separate domain. These are just a few examples of the disjointed architecture that made the site extremely confusing and inconvenient for users. To solve this, we created a new organizational hierarchy that would allow for all these different pieces to live under one main menu on the site. Since the new site was being built in-house from scratch, all use of iFrames and Flash were eliminated. This new structure also allowed for a single login area for all users. The development team set up different permission levels for users, which the PR team could selectively grant to any user. For those who did not have access to certain sections of the website, we designed user-friendly messaging informing the user why they could not see the selected content, and how they could request access. This was another great improvement. On the old site, if a user clicked on something they didn't have permission for, the site would simply not respond–seeming as if it were completely broken.
Support for Mobile Devices–Responsive Is a Must!
This request was pretty much a no-brainer. The old website was not responsive or mobile friendly in any way, which was doubly problematic. Not only was it a terrible experience for many potential users, but the lack of mobile support made the entire site (and the company as a whole) seem pretty archaic . . . definitely not the kind of reputation that an entertainment company wants to promote. Our redesign absolutely had to support a range of screen sizes and devices. We established a standard set of breakpoints for our designs, and comped out every screen for the site accordingly. Throughout the design process, we were constantly striving to create layouts that were modular and flexible, so that they would play nicely on multiple screen sizes.
Improved Press Release Library & Expanded Search
Press Releases are obviously a very important and prominent part of the the Public Relations team's work. The old website did support an archive of press releases, but it left much to be desired. There was no way to categorize, sort, or search for a single piece of content. The list-style display of recent press releases was so compact it was practically impossible to read. As a whole, this section of the site was almost useless. We created a new, spacious layout with easily scannable titles and summaries. We also added a category tagging system and date filter. In addition, we designed four different layout templates for individual press release pages, each accommodating a different number and combination of photos. This offered the PR team a way to create press releases in various styles, while still maintaining a consistent look and feel.
. . . And So Much More
These updates were really just the tip of the iceberg for this redesign. All in all, I spent over 9 months on this project, re-imagining every part of this website. The end result was a vastly improved, clean and modernized website, and a very happy Public Relations team. Since its launch, the new website has seen greatly increased traffic and user engagement. Average user session duration has increased from 4 minutes to 25 minutes, and bounce rates have decreased from 85% to less than 30%. While there is still room for improvement, our team, and the company as a whole, saw this project as a huge success.