NCR is a Fortune 500 company that provides software, hardware and services to businesses across multiple industries. Like any large enterprise the needs of their customers shift quickly, but the ability to make changes to their website to address them was hampered by their content management system.
Understanding customer needs
Often a web project will only focus on the external customer, but the larger ambition here was about empowering the internal customer so they could move faster in the web environment. Our goal was not only to help them refresh their site by focusing on their external customers from a UX perspective, but also to create an authoring toolkit for their internal teams — a set of components that meet their needs for authoring new pages. This would give them the ability to easily build and edit anything the business may need moving forward without requiring engineering involvement or having to rely on a developer or agency.
An incremental approach
We approached the project in phases with a staggered delivery; the first focused on a single business unit inside of NCR and a subset of five pages that we would redesign, build against and push into the market as a prototype for their larger system. This process began with a brand sprint to understand the customer needs and the user story, and then we used content design and UX to translate brand to the execution layer and create the narrative journey of the site. This included some iterations of site mapping and wireframes to structure each page with content elements. It was the groundwork for thinking about the initial set of components that needed to be built — the parts and pieces that were needed to create each page — and from there we transitioned to visual design, and moved right into build.
Building the building blocks
We built the first series of pages based on the wireframes, but what we were really building was an atomic design system to allow for speed, flexibility and scalability. This is made of the defined components that function like building blocks for a webpage and can be reused across the site. It would eventually allow the NCR team to have full control over their content authoring — to be able to jump in and combine the blocks to create what they need and push it into the build — without breaking anything else in the system. Getting the first set of pages and components built and live for NCR was important in showing the larger organization how Webflow can functionally be used as a tool for scale, and from there gave us a solid foundation to build upon for the company’s other business units.
While we were working on the piloted program with the first business unit, additional workstreams were beginning for NCR’s other business units in parallel as we moved into the second phase of the project. We repeated the brand to UX process, and started to see some different, nuanced content needs for those other units. From those learnings we iterated on how to readdress the initial core components created in phase one in a way that would meet the specific needs of each business unit, while maintaining a global system. This meant making optimizations to balance the flexibility and the rigidity of the system by deconstructing the components into subcomponents that make up a content block. We could still safeguard the code, and the system ultimately gave NCR the most potential for customization with the least amount of complexity.
No-code architecture for scale
For that first phase, we went from the initialization of the project to live in market within only five weeks. Another five weeks later we had 40 pages and a full toolkit of components complete. Phase three was about creating a multi-instance version of the Webflow build so that NCR could begin to scale the system for not just one or two authors and 40 pages, but for 20 or more authors and thousands of potential pages. The multi-instance approach gave each business unit autonomy within their own project; it’s a solution that allows individual teams to have their own instance of Webflow for authoring, while still sharing the same classes and maintaining one global style sheet for a consistent design. This allowed for content authors to go in and really impact html and components, but not have to worry about impacting any global elements that appear on pages across units, or even have to schedule amongst the different units to coordinate when they spend time in the build.
Platform change meets organizational change
When it comes time to hand over a site to the client, we always provide a series of resources and learning sessions so they can see how we are building, get guidance on best practices and ask any questions that come up. But for large enterprises building at scale, there are additional considerations when it comes to structuring roles and responsibilities internally within a team in order to support Webflow and get the most out of the platform. To help NCR approach that organizational change, we identified five roles — from editor through marketing technologist — and outlined their functions as it related to authoring content, as well as how NCR should look at hiring and staffing for those positions moving forward.
Taking the wheel
Like we said from the start, our ultimate goal is to help companies own and author their web experience without the need for a developer or agency. When we handed over the keys of the project, we made sure NCR was fully enabled to manage their own site. In turn, they’ve been able to meet the needs of their customers in market across business units quickly and efficiently, with full control over their content authoring.