As with most digital assignments that need content management, we wanted to achieve a balance of flexibility for the content editors without compromising look and feel or user experience. Being partial to LAMP based technologies, ExpressionEngine was first on our list of choices for the content management framework.
Congratulations on the launch of UTC Power! What can you tell us about the site in general? What are the goals of the site and the main audience?
Before I tell you about the site, a little background on the brand. UTC Power began in 1958 as a subsidiary of Pratt & Whitney, but it didn’t take long for the company to take off. Literally. On the cutting edge of 20th century technology, pushing the envelope, UTC was chosen by NASA to supply fuel cells for the Apollo space program and, later, for the Space Shuttle missions. During the 1990s, UTC continued to look beyond the preconceptions of fuel cell technology, and became one of the first companies to manufacture and successfully commercialize a large, stationary fuel cell design for use as a co-generation power plant.
Now UTC Power is a recognized global leader in the design, development and production of fuel cells for buildings, and for applications tailored specifically to the transportation, space and defense industries. As a unit of United Technologies, the company enjoys the security and resources to bolster its legacy as a company that can change the world by redefining the varied concepts of energy production.
Some of the ways discussed that the website could engage the audience:
Reintroduce fuel cells to the general public as an alternative energy technology
Encourage state and federal green energy incentives and subsidies for fuel cell technology placement
Connect with, and be a resource for, online and traditional journalists writing about energy
Educate specifiers to the benefits of stationary fuel cells in their mission-critical and life-safety building projects (architects, engineers, facilities managers)
Provide a resource library with photos, newsletter archives, science curriculum, videos, etc.
Provide a technical resource library with product literature, data, and specifications for architects, engineers, facilities managers
Provide education opportunities for specifiers: webinars, CEU sessions at professional conventions (AIA national and regional, for example)
Digital Surgeons was given the opportunity to help fresh the identity as well as create the new online destination to represent UTC power online.
Can you tell us about the team that worked on UTC Power?
Certainly! The Digital Surgeons team was compromised of a unique mix of designers, strategists and creative technologists. As always, we approached it holistically so before we even started thinking about the website itself we looked at the UTC power brand and aimed to create a positioning strategy that would lend itself across all communication channels beyond just web.
Our Creative Director, Mark Myrick, and myself (Peter Sena) worked closely with our brand strategy team to dial in on the messaging and look and feel. From a messaging and positioning standpoint, Darlene Susco led the charge to make sure every headline was carefully crafted to carry out the voice of UTC power.
Once we had the brand strategy established, we started thinking about the information architecture and content strategy that would make most sense for UTC. It had to be assessable and informational to a wide audience.
We all worked closely with our art directors and developers to establish the information architecture and technical strategy that would be used to create the website.
Chris Fidao, our lead developer, was integral in rallying our development team to ensure every line of code and data relationship was just right for the UTC marketing stakeholders to be able to edit and display properly.
Similar to any award show, the list of praise can go on for hours but we’d like to thank the entire team of unsung heroes at Digital Surgeons who made it happen on time, on budget and exceeded our client’s expectations.
What was your major consideration in using ExpressionEngine for this?
As with most digital assignments that need content management, we wanted to achieve a balance of flexibility for the content editors without compromising look and feel or user experience.
Being partial to LAMP based technologies, ExpressionEngine was first on our list of choices for the content management framework. We used a combination of the CodeIgniter framework as well as sprinkling in some Zend libraries for various integration points.
Are you using any Addons? If so, which ones? How did they help?
EEvent helper - Help handle event logic - for properly handling events that will occur in the future, rather than ones which exist in the past.
Imgsizer - Allow users to worry less about image formatting by automatically resizing user-generated images.
Logiq Pagination - Easily allow for custom pagination styles without having to roll out own pagination classes.
Low Nospam - Spam protection against public comments on syndicated content.
Low Seg2cat - Allows for SEO-friendly URLs for categorized content. We used this in addition to our Digital Surgeons ExpressionEngine SEO module.
Matrix - Easily create collections of information with a channel entry, such as galleries,etc.
MD Color Picker - Allow users to choose the font-color of text in certain areas of the site to match surrounding imagery.
Playa - Relate entries together - For instance, technical data sheets were related to specific products.
Reelocate - Server migration assistant - Easily switch between environments with Reelocate changing system preferences as needed.
Word Limit - Useful for creating snippets from the body content of entries for list displays.
Wygwam - Allow users to easily create formatted entries.
While we are doing a number of custom integrations a few of these we went and created Add-ons that can be leveraged across future projects for. If you are interested in using these on your own projects drop us a line on our contact page.
Archive - Show the month/date pair of an archive page based on URL
Google Search - Integrate Google Site Search into the site (Soon to be a public launch)
Is Paginated - Test if a page is using pagination, needed for certain URL structures
Youtube Field - Helps users enter in any format of youtube embed by automatically parsing the URL to grab the Youtube video ID. This ensures consistent viewing of youtube videos throughout the site without having to go through an in depth integration with another video platform.
What is the part of this project you are most proud of?
How it all came together. A big part of Digital Surgeon’s philosophy is thinking channel and technology agnostic. Helping build and connect the UTC power brand across multiple touch-points beyond just a website makes us the most proud. We are doing a number of non-standard things to create an intuitive, easy to edit content inside ExpressionEngine without compromising visual quality to the viewer.
What is next on the plate for Digital Surgeons? Any additional work you can tell us about?
We are working on for a number of projects for awesome brands including: Sharp, USTA, Epic Games, sub brands under Numark Industries, and Fender Music Corporation to name a few.
In terms of things we “can” talk about: most recently, we launched the NS6 DJ controller and digital campaign (http://numarkns6.com/) which is leading the way in challenging the way their brand’s look at the web and social media as a marketing utility.
We’re helping the United States Tennis Association transform their 10 and under tennis brand in the digital space which will be another great example of taking a bulky, proprietary content management system and retooling it to use the lightweight and extensible ExpressionEngine platform.
Do you have any other information you’d like to share with the community? Tips from this project you’d like to share? Lessons you’ve learned?
Plan, Plan and plan some more. No, seriously, when it comes to approaching a project that uses a great deal of technology it is best to involve the client in the beginning stages and work with them on what the content will be early on to avoid having to redo things later.
For all our assignments we have a pretty heavy information architecture deliverable, which segments content and functionality from visual design to avoid subjective feedback from slowing or affecting the timing or budget on project.