Magnolia CMS Used by CE and America's Navy in Global Marketing Project
Navy.com is the main Web site for the U.S. Navy's recruitment efforts. In 2010, Magnolia partner CE (Campbell Ewald) redesigned Navy.com to be more interactive, more responsive to user needs, and better integrated with social media communities nurtured by the U.S. Navy. Additionally, the site needed to support the Navy’s recently launched new brand, “America’s Navy. A Global Force For Good™”. Navy.com is now running on Magnolia CMS Enterprise Edition with Magnolia STK and Blossom, Magnolia's instant Spring integration.
Navy.com is the official recruitment Web site for the U.S. Navy, and part of an $800 million contract for CE, one of the largest advertising and digital communications agencies in the United States. Since becoming the Navy’s Agency of Record in May of 2000, CE advertising, digital communications and consumer insights, have won over 80 industry awards, including Ogilvy, MOSAIC, ECHO, Cannes, and EFFIE. More importantly, CE efforts continue to help the Navy achieve recruiting mission objectives, including a record 111 straight months (and counting) of meeting General Enlistment recruitment goals. In 2009, Navy.com helped process approximately 600,000 leads and deliver more than 55,000 new recruits to the U.S. Navy.
|Implemented by Magnolia Partner||Campbell Ewald (CE) |
|Number of Sites|| |
|Number of Pages||200+ pages, 100+ videos|
|Number of Authors|| |
The Problem: Charting the Course for Navy.com
As the primary recruiting platform for the U.S. Navy, one of CE's key goals in this project was to ensure the Navy's continuing successful communication with young people and their families. Campbell Ewald believed this would be best accomplished by tapping into naval themes of patriotism, honor, courage and commitment; and communicating these values through a mix of compelling content, interactive applications and social media.
Enabling Efficient Content Publishing
As an authoritative source of news and information, Navy.com needed the ability to respond rapidly to users content needs, particularly over the timeline of an emerging conflict or emergency. The ability to publish news and content with minimal technical knowledge was therefore of prime importance, and it was decided early on in the project that this would be best accomplished with a CMS.
Previously, Navy.com was 400+ pages of XHTML and JSP code meaning even the slightest change was laborious and time consuming. We knew, in the redesign, this process had to become more streamlined as providing our target audience with ‘evergreen content’, and being able to update the site in near real-time was a critical factor in a successful redesign.
Jason Macemore, Digital Experience Planner, CE
Integrating with Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Others
Social media was considered a key facet of the new Navy.com. In 2008, CE had already launched one of the most successful online communities, NavyForMoms.com, which was designed to facilitate discussions about life in the Navy between parents of active duty personnel. The success of NavyForMoms.com made it clear that social networks and communities would be critical to the success of the Navy’s overall recruitment mission. The new Navy.com needed to “promote the conversation” already happening in Navy communities, including over fifteen specialized Facebook communities, Twitter groups, YouTube channels, and NavyForMoms.com.
Complying with Web Standards and Accessibility Guidelines
CE had established its commitment to Web standards in 2001, with the launch of the first version of Navy.com. Subsequent versions had built upon this commitment, with the third version of the site (circa 2005) being cited in Web Standards evangelist, Jeffrey Zeldman’s book "Designing with Web Standards" as an example of best-practice site design and implementation. In addition to compliance with current XHTML and CSS specifications, CE developers also needed to maximize accessibility for disabled users by implementing the W3C's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Priorities 1, 2 and 3.
The Solution: Extending and Using Magnolia STK and Blossom
CE developers spent six months researching and evaluating open source content management systems. Their evaluation was platform-agnostic; they considered Java, PHP and Python solutions in their research. Key evaluation criteria were:
- Easy to learn and easy to use for content authors
- Short learning curve for designers and developers
- Easy to integrate with custom business objects
- Compliant with Web standards and accessibility guidelines
- Scalable and robust
Magnolia CMS Enterprise Edition, together with the Magnolia STK and Blossom module, met all of these criteria.
Magnolia truly is simple to use. After a 15 minute tutorial, I was able to confidently make content updates to our Navy.com site. In Magnolia, I am able to edit pages within the same look and feel as the public website as opposed to having to make changes in a word editor, then having to save and preview to see what the page will look like. I have vast experience working with several different CMS solutions and I must say the Magnolia CMS ranks at the very top as far as ease of use is concerned.
Sherry Rosenkranz, Management Supervisor, CE
Designing and Implementing the Site
While the CMS evaluation was in progress, modeling sessions for the new Navy.com had already begun. CE Content Strategists and Digital Strategists undertook a complete content audit of the existing site, performed a competitive analysis to find weak spots and identify strengths, and developed personas. This information was used to define a new content strategy that mapped to the overall business goals of the site. At the same time, other members of the team were developing wireframes, deciding user flows and performing usability tests to verify the new design.
Meanwhile, Campbell Ewald developers were busy defining the application architecture. As modeling sessions were to start before CMS selection, it was important that the model be interoperable, and that the CMS could be "plugged in" once selected. It was therefore decided to adopt a RESTful model for business components, allowing them to be accessed in a platform-independent manner. Grails Framework was chosen to implement the Web service application. Development took place using a Continuous Integration environment modeled after Magnolia's own environment.
Working with Magnolia STK and Blossom
The Magnolia Standard Templating Kit (STK) played an important role in reducing the overall time to market. By providing a framework that cleanly separated interface templates, content and business logic from each other, the STK enabled writers, art directors, developers and quality assurance analysts to work in parallel. This reduced coordination cost, produced cleaner and more maintainable code, and helped in rapid development. To further simplify prototyping, CE created a custom tool, the Magnolia STK Stencil Library for Omnigraffle, which helped in rapid wireframing, creative brainstorming, and experience planning, while aligning very well with the actual execution.
Blossom, Magnolia's Spring integration module, was of immense value to the development team, as it provided a straightforward way to connect the Navy.com user interface with the Web service API exposed by custom business objects. These objects included subscription services, CRUD functionality and user-space applications such as the Navy Life-Ops personality profile test. Blossom’s modular architecture reduced the need for regression testing, as developers could upgrade the core CMS product without worrying about knock-on effects to their Blossom code.
Magnolia CMS's quality of code, extensibility, flexibility, openness, and ease of use, coupled with their exceptional customer support, commitment to frequent releases, and adherence to agile development, make them a game-changing collaborator.
Matt Dertinger, User Interface Architect, CE
The Result: Navy.com 4.0
The result of all this work, Navy.com 4.0, offers users a compelling new interface, one that clearly communicates the U.S. Navy’s themes of patriotism, honor, courage and commitment. A deep blue and gray theme with a montage of naval photography in the background evokes images of the sea, naval vessels, esprit de corps and camaraderie. Large, clearly-defined content areas offer information on key topics, such as the Navy experience, career opportunities, and frequently asked questions.
The new STK-based templates produce a simpler and more user-friendly browsing experience: consider that the redesigned Navy Life-Ops personality test, which uses the STK, now boasts a much higher completion rate from users (up to 89% from the previous 63%).
These design elements, tightly linked with the Navy’s branding and market identity as conceived by CE, are all produced and managed with Magnolia CMS and Magnolia STK. They provide a compelling example of how Magnolia CMS satisfies all the requirements for large-scale marketing and communication programs.
The new Navy.com Web site offers a simpler interface for content editing and publishing, courtesy Magnolia CMS. Content authors can now add and modify content through Magnolia's WYSIWYG interface, previewing these changes immediately and publishing them to the live site with a single click. Authors without specific technical expertise can easily add pre-defined functionality through custom paragraphs.
Magnolia is a great system to work in. We can input content within the templates, design/format the content on each page to best show it off without multiple rounds between designers and developers. It gives us the freedom to create within an easy to use interface and a time efficient process.
Mary Broedell, Senior Multi Media Art Director, CE
Navy.com 4.0 is also tightly integrated with social networks, offering direct links to a variety of Navy-specific Facebook communities, as well as to Twitter feeds, Flickr photostreams, and YouTube channels. Custom features, such as a live chat window, a career path planner and a locator component, improve communication between recruiters and potential recruits and make it easier for the latter to obtain honest news and opinions about life in the Navy. Magnolia's automatic SEO friendly URLs and semantic markup, microformats, standards compliance and accessibility compliance ensure that site content is both easy to find and easy to read.
In October of 2009, Navy launched a new brand: “America’s Navy. A Global Force For Good” This new brand was delivered with a complete set of icons, graphic treatments, and color palette which served, across each of the marketing channels utilized, to unify the image of the U.S. Navy in the minds of the target audiences being addressed.
The flexibility of Magnolia’s CMS allowed CE’s Navy team to integrate all of these new brand assets into the site - regardless of the specific interest to a particular audience – delivering a cohesive and unified look for the Navy even as the Navy has a variety of ratings, communities, and sub-organizations, each with their own unique culture or icons.
Jennifer Monaghan, Account Director, CE
Benefits of Magnolia CMS for the Navy.com project
- Lower implementation time and cost through flexible, extensible platform
- Faster time to market and lower risk with STK technology
- Easy integration with custom business objects through Blossom
- Shorter learning curve for content authors through WYSIWYG editing interface
Navy’s target audience is interested in a site rich in information as well as video, photography and graphic assets heightening their experience in learning about the U.S. Navy.
The manner in which such assets are integrated into Magnolia and made available to the visitor allows for a robust and informative experience. So much so that average time on the site is 11 minutes; video consumption is extensive, while page views are down – not a bad thing as the site redesign, via Magnolia, now provide sought after information in a more immediately findable manner
Joe Gaulzetti, Group Management Supervisor, CE
The new Navy.com Web site, built with Magnolia CMS Enterprise Edition, addresses the goals of better communication, social media integration, application integration, and standards compliance. It provides a comprehensive set of tools for information, news and support for American naval personnel and their families, and for potential recruits among the youth, and a robust, scalable and reliable platform for engagement with the community. It is fully expected to remain a critical component of the U.S. Navy's recruitment efforts for 2010 and beyond.