Back in the fall of 2004, even before Michelle Beauchamp had come on board as director of marketing communications at Concord Camera Corp., in Hollywood, Fla., she said, her predecessor had recognized serious flaws in the design, content and management of the companys Web sites.
Concord Camera, a publicly traded company that sells low-priced digital and single-use cameras under several brand names—including Concord, Polaroid (single-use) and Jenoptik—had a number of problems with the Web site.
Beauchamp said there was no link between brands, and the site, which had originally been built as a brochure site, needed more detailed information for consumers and dealers.
However, according to Beauchamp, the primary issue was a lack of local control. She said all Web site changes had to go through Concords Hong Kong office, producing an unacceptable lag time for even minor site edits.
Concord needed a solution that would allow marketing and product personnel to make changes to the site themselves—wherever they were.
“We have an office in Hong Kong [where they handle IT], and the Web site updates were being made by an individual in our Hong Kong office,” Beauchamp said.
“Any time marketing had to make a change to the Web site, we had to plan [at least] a day ahead. By the time Hong Kong got the request, responded and made the changes, we would lose a day and a half to two days just to make simple changes to the Web site. We change our site frequently, and it became challenging to change content in real time,” she said.
Placing the ability to make changes in the hands of marketing and product personnel would be a key part of the new Web site launch, Beauchamp said. Because Concord is a small company, Beauchamp said it was immediately apparent that it would need outside help to bring the project to fruition.
Concord quickly began searching for a partner to help it redesign the look and feel of the site, to help add richer content, and to link its multiple brands. What the company needed was a solutions integrator that had Web development and content management skills along with marketing savvy.
In addition, Beauchamp said Concord wanted the partner to help implement a CMS (content management system) to improve workflow and simplify site updates.
After interviewing a number of Web development companies, Concord chose Miami-based BGT Partners, a global professional services design company. Beauchamp, who came on board toward the end of the selection process, said that BGTs proposal merged site design and management into a single solution.
Most of the companies that Concord interviewed had offered design solutions but did not have a vision of how to manage back-end processes. BGT had a complete solution, Beauchamp said.
“One of the things that stood out about BGT was that they were very marketing-oriented and consumer-driven, and we were looking for a partner that could think that way,” Beauchamp said. “[We wanted] a Web development partner who could offer full service, all sides of the equation. Some other companies were more design-oriented, and BGT gave us the full picture we were looking for,” Beauchamp said.
As an example, David Clarke, vice president at BGT, said he recognized immediately that Concord had a lot more to offer than it was showing through its Web site.
“The site was developed many years ago,” Clarke said. “The original intent was to be an online brochure, to allow consumers and vendors to download product information and press releases. Simply put, the Concord products were a lot more exciting and sophisticated-looking than their site, and they really needed a complete [redesign] of the portal to make products more aligned with the branding of the online portal.”
Beauchamp said Concord put BGT in charge of finding a content management vendor, rather than conducting a separate search itself.
“Once we selected BGT, they selected a content management system for us. We told them what our requirements were, and they made recommendations to us [based on] those requirements,” Beauchamp said.
Global Portals Require Easy,
Clarke said his company recommended an Ektron Inc. CMS400.NET system to help manage Concords worldwide portals.
“We were looking for a third-party CMS vendor to manage portals across the globe in different languages and across the different brands. Concord needed to centrally manage the portals from one location and reflect all Concords global brands,” Clarke said.
It was important to Concord that its marketing personnel be given control over content changes, Clarke said.
However, he also knew from experience that the system had to be easy to use to encourage user adoption. Ektrons system fit this requirement, he said.
“There are many CMS systems, but Ektron really fit the bill the best,” Clarke said.
“In Concords case, user adoption was also a key driver to the project. Thats really where recommending Ektron pushed it over the top because, in our past experience implementing Ektron systems, it was easy to use and learn and had a near 100 percent adoption rate.”
After learning about Concords unique needs, Beauchamp explained that BGT also provided custom programming services for the Ektron system, including a new product wizard to allow marketing and product management personnel to generate new product pages quickly and easily. This customization was key to the system.
“[New product information] was the heart of the site, so they created a new product wizard that walks the person through the process of creating the product screen by screen,” Beauchamp said.
“BGT offered a lot of other services that went above and beyond being the traditional Web development partner to help us manage a campaign and build metrics to see what results we were getting,” Beauchamp said. “This marketing orientation was really important to us.”
Clarke said that Concord and BGT personnel worked extremely well together throughout the process.
“Once [Concord] heard the proposal, they were quick to engage,” Clarke said. “The portal was developed over a three-month period, which included the implementation of the [Ektron] system. As far as their participation in the portal, they were involved in every step of the project and they were a very proactive team. They understood what they needed to do and had clear direction. The Concord staff had technical savvy and worked well with our project leads and designers and really had the right internal resources to push this project and make sure it was successful,” he said.
Beauchamp said that the system went live this year on Feb. 18, and, so far, it has gone well. She said the team has encountered fewer glitches than she would have expected in a project of this magnitude, and she said that BGT has dealt with any issues that have come up seamlessly.
“It can be challenging to create [a] single infrastructure to create all kinds of things, and we didnt think it could be done, but they were able to find a way to do it,” Beauchamp said.
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