Retheming Palantir.net for Our Audience
The new www.palantir.net allows us greater flexibility to feature content that is most relevant to our site visitors.
When we first migrated our website (https://www.palantir.net) from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 in the summer of 2016, it was an exciting time for our marketing team. From an editorial perspective, Drupal 8 is a much easier to use interface than D7, and it instantly allowed us greater flexibility with our content.
However, even though we now had a more flexible site, we still felt like the digital experience for our audience missed a few marks. We quickly established a list of goals for phase two of the redesign, and these goals were related to both the overall digital experience and internal business goals.
The Overall Digital Experience
With the next iteration of our site, we wanted to focus on making the site more intuitive for visitors and also surface content in a way that was most beneficial to them. Would future clients prefer to filter case studies by service category or industry? What were visitors hoping or expecting to find on the homepage? What kind of information about Palantir were potential new hires trying to find?
These questions informed the following goals for the site:
- To be simple and easy to use by having meaningful (and working) filters, allowing users to filter by industry, and curating collections around topics that most interest our audience.
- To inspire applicants by demonstrating solid work, showcasing our cultural story, and making it easy to find career information.
- To tell the story of Palantir with crisper messaging, improved visuals, and better storytelling throughout via weaving client testimonials with staff stories and case studies.
- To be future forward by creating a visual theme with a timeless solution.
We also had a few items we wanted to address that related to our overall business goals. Our website is an important sales and marketing tool for us, and we wanted to make sure it was doing its job. We needed the new site to:
- Showcase our work better by making it more prominent, showing more visuals and making our visuals more consistent.
- Capture leads and bring in more business by making it easy for people to contact us no matter where they are on the site, and by simplifying newsletter sign-up.
- Elevate the Palantir brand by creating a newly themed site that in itself is a demonstration of our design and development skill, showcasing our work in a superior way, and talking more intelligently — but concisely — about ourselves, our work, and our services.
Just like we recommend for our clients, we began our process with a Discovery phase. One of our web strategists, Michelle Jackson, completed a competitive analysis to inform next steps. A few of the things she evaluated were:
- What are our peers doing right?
- What are the current industry standards?
- What are agencies that we aspire to emulate doing?
The results from this analysis helped us prioritize our wishlist of future site features. We then handed off this wishlist to the designer on the project, Carl Martens. Carl worked through the design phase which included creating wireframes, moving things into a prototype, and then building out the new theme in partnership with Ken Rickard, who completed all of the development. The design was done using our standard process: we built in a modular way using site components, and then compiled them into a living style guide. Particular attention was paid to typographic details, use of color, and how to most effectively use images.
Another design problem we needed to solve was one common to all companies that list their team members: what do you do when a new employee joins the team, and you don’t have a photo for them that matches the others? Even our photographer (who only does our headshots once per year) said, “all my clients have this problem. Let me know when you figure it out!” We thought of several options on how to fix this, and ended up with the chalkboard solution. It allows us to inject some personality into our page while not distracting from the other headshots by having it be a headshot in a different style or lighting.
More details about the technical implementation of the Drupal 8 site can be found in Ken's blog post.
New Features and Integrations
The latest version of www.palantir.net has an abundance of new features that allow us to weave storytelling throughout the site.
Our previous homepage had much of the important content buried beneath the fold. To fix this, we wanted to turn our homepage into a hub where site visitors could search for content that was relevant to them, no matter where that content lived on the site. The new homepage can filter all of our content by both topic and industry, and helps surface the most relevant pieces of content for our audience. The new homepage also features a collapsible side navigation, so you can see more relevant content at one time.
Topic-Based Collection Pages
Tying into the goals of our searchable homepage, we curated new collection pages based on topics we thought our audience would search for most (which include Planning, Business Strategy, Security, Design & UX, Development, Governance, Content Strategy and Accessibility). That way when someone asks, “what do you do for accessibility?” we can send them directly to a curated page that shows blog posts and case studies specific to that topic. These collection pages can be found at the bottom of our services page.
Culture and Careers Content
With the next iteration of the site, we wanted to make sure we were catering to the audience who might be interested in working for us in the future. We achieved this by showcasing all of the great things about working at Palantir, and on these pages we included more images to help show rather than tell that information. Our new Culture and Careers page houses much of the information a potential new Palantiri might look for, including what we think are the key elements of our culture. It also links to our Benefits page which outlines the many perks of working for Palantir, and to our current openings.
Case Studies That Tell a Story
Some of the most important pieces of content on our site are our case studies. It is vital as an agency to be able to showcase our work and capabilities dynamically. The old version of our case studies were extremely text-heavy and did not feature nearly enough visual representation of the process or final product of each project.
The new format of our new case studies are broken into different chunks of content, with the ability to show each bit of information in a way that fits what is being communicated. We can then weave each of these pieces together into one comprehensive, dynamic storyline. By breaking the case studies into smaller, more visual pieces, they are much easier to scan too. We still have to update some of our older case studies, so this is still a work in progress.
Updated Services Page
One would think a services page would be the first page to be refined on a business’ site, but somehow our previous services page was a complete afterthought. Buried in the footer, it was a glorified bulleted list. This page was a high priority for us to fix, because we wanted to make sure potential clients could find information about what services we provide. The new services page is easy to find in the main site navigation, and in addition to the afore-mentioned collections, it also features information about our partnerships.
Hubspot is a new sales and marketing tool for us that we have been implementing since the beginning of the year. It helps us track new project opportunities on the sales side, and it also houses all of our marketing tools. One of the new Hubspot tools that we have implemented on our new site is called a lead flow. Lead flows are abbreviated contact forms that we can choose to display on specific pages, granting our site visitors a quick way to subscribe to our email newsletter.
In true agile fashion, we had an MVP with the goal of launching by DrupalCon Nashville, but we plan to keep iterating and improving the site in the coming months. So, what do we have planned next?
- New photos for new staff
- Video that reiterates the Palantir story
- A timeline of the history of Palantir
- Listing of awards and press mentions (Great Place to Work, Clutch.co, etc.)
- Rewriting and adding more case studies
Of course, we also want to make sure our site is accessible. In addition to baking accessibility into our process along the way, we use a tool provided by our partner, Siteimprove, to scan our site and determine if it meets accessibility standards. Siteimprove is a great tool because it flags both quality assurance items (like misspellings and broken links) as well as accessibility requirements (like those provided by WCAG and AA). We use the reports provided by Siteimprove to continuously clean up our content and ensure an enjoyable digital experience for all users.
Tell Us What You Think
So far we’ve had one client tell us this: “The redesign clearly marks a maturation and growth of Palantir. If progressing towards a more serious, trustworthy, and refined company was the goal, I think you nailed it.” We sure hope so!