Yara project, redesign of Air1 website with new Information Architecture

On this page, I am writing about a very interesting project I’ve led. This kind of report from my work intends to inform you about the services I can provide as Web consultant and Information Architect. Let me start by naming the project team and sending them my grateful thanks. I would also like to sincerely thank Karen and Véronique.


The project team

Information Architecture and Web Strategy:

Macarie Web Consulting, Paris & Oslo

Creative Design: Sebastian Brink, Copenhagen

Technical Development and Implementation:

The Building Blocks Ltd, Manchester

Deployment: Bouvet ASA, Oslo

Redesigning a multiple-language and multiple-country website

The project. In 2009, Yara planned to upgrade all their websites to a new content management system called Tridion. Air1 website (one of Yara’s brands) was part of this CMS switch and needed a brush-up too. In addition, the brand manager wisely asked for SEO consultancy (Search Engine Optimization) to assure the future site to be SEO friendly. This is how it all started for me! My SEO recommendations and my vision of how the new site should be, convinced my client to give me top responsibilities in the redesign project.

The Client. Yara is one of the biggest Norwegian company, which revenue was € 10 billion in 2008. Air1, one of their industrial brands, supplies chemical solutions that reduce NOx (nitrogen oxides) in the exhaust gas system. This green product has come with new worldwide regulations to meet non-pollutant standards in the road transportation industry. As it is a worldwide company, with worldwide office locations and worldwide distributors and customers, I did have to conceive a solution which could fit this international context, including multiple language and country specific data.

Legend. UK homepage before redesigning

The look & feel of the former site needed to be updated to the new standards of Web design. You can see above how it looked before our redesign. In the new version of the site (below), you can see that we have respected the brand toolkit, modernized the whole look & feel, and added a slide show and a toolbox in the right sidebar. The challenge of this project was not only for pages to look better, but also for relevant information to be accessible quicker. Read the IA section to learn more about information remodeling.

Legend. UK homepage with new IA and new creative design

Information Architecture and Web Strategy

Multiple languages and countries.

I wanted to solve the issue of multiple languages and multiple countries before any wireframe or design activity. The main idea was to conceive a site based on three main bricks: the structure, the language and the country specific details. The structure being the same for all countries, the language and the country specifics being variable.  This way, Yara is able to inform about Air1 in several languages for the same country (Switzerland, Canada…) and, most of all, they can duplicate a new country site at lower cost. I raised the question of the product name (because Air1 is the brand name for 3 different product names, depending on the continent), but we decided not to make it variable, handling it as regular text content. I checked if Tridion, the new CMS, did support this 3-brick concept, and it did. The final scope consisted of 10 different languages and 61 countries to be launched progressively throughout 2010.


Map of content migration

When I started the new IA (Information Architecture), I analyzed competitors and interviewed the brand manager and the brand coordinator to understand and clarify the whole business context. It appeared that the main purpose of the site was to give contact information, safety information, price information and to locate product availability to prospect and customer.

Then, I worked on the navigation structure, developing the following guidelines:

  • Quick Access to main information*
  • Great, powerful, and looking good locator
  • Easy multiple-language and multiple-country deployment

*This is why the grey tool box, among other usability principles, has been designed.

In a redesign project, IA and the client must make a decision regarding the existing content. In this case, we had to get rid of all images, while we wanted to keep as much text as possible. I built up a map of text content migration to this aim. Then I designed the 10 wireframes which would formalize my IA and provide the necessary sketches of the new site to the creative design and to the client.

A new locator.

The existing locator was based on Via Michelin technology of map location. This tool is aimed to locate filling stations that do supply Air1. Knowing the powerful API of Google maps and its ability to provide accurate and worldwide data, I suggested switching from one to another. The gap between the former and the new locator is unbelievable. Both the look and the usability have been really improved. Check it out by yourself:

Legend. The former locator

Legend. The new locator based on Google API.

Blogs for free content updating.

One of Yara’s requirements was to deliver a site which is not demanding in term of content update. I suggested using feeds from blogs in order to populate some areas of the site and get update content for free. The topics of green vehicles and emission reduction have been selected. Now you can see containers in right sidebars and a whole page fed by blog posts.

I think I have told enough and I hope I did not bother you. I would be delighted if you have enjoyed reading me.

Feel free to ask any question by leaving a comment.

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