Navy.com recruits men and women for the U.S. Navy. As part of an $800 million contract, Campbell Ewald (CE) - one of the largest advertising and digital communications agencies in the United States - was asked to remodel the website to make it easier to use and to engage with. Since becoming the Navy’s Agency of Record in May 2000, CE advertising, digital communications and consumer insights has won over 80 industry awards, including Ogilvy, MOSAIC and Cannes.
The new Navy website is more interactive and responsive to user needs, as well as better integrated with social media. It's also easy for both authors and developers to work with. As a result, it's been meeting recruiting mission objective for a record 111 straight months (and counting!)
Magnolia'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.
Campbell Ewald needed to ensure the Navy's continuing successful communication with young people and their families. The company believed this could best be 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.
As an authoritative source of news and information, Navy.com needed the ability to respond rapidly to users' content needs, particularly during emerging conflicts or emergencies. The ability to publish news and content with minimal technical knowledge was therefore of prime importance. The previous site had over 400 pages of XHTML and JSP code, making it difficult and time-consuming to edit content.
CE had established its commitment to web standards with the launch of Navy.com. A later version was cited by Jeffrey Zeldman in his book "Designing with Web Standards" as an example of best-practice site design and implementation. CE developers needed to comply with XHTML and CSS specifications as well as implementing web content accessibility guidelines.
In addition, CE had already launched a successful online community - NavyForMoms.com - and it was important that the new site promote the Navy's social network, which included Twitter, YouTube and fifteen specialized Facebook communities.
It was decided early on that a CMS would be the best solution to enable the Navy to publish news and content regularly with minimal technical knowledge
CE developers spent six months researching and evaluating open source content management systems. They wanted a system that would be easy to learn and use for content authors, designers and developers. In addition to complying with web standards and accessibility guidelines, the new system also needed to be scalable and robust. Magnolia Enterprise Edition, together with the Magnolia Standard Templating Kit and Blossom module, met all of these criteria.
While the CMS evaluation was in progress, CE had begun modeling sessions for the new Navy.com, including a complete content audit, competitive analysis and persona development. They used this information 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 started before the 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.
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 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’s flexibility allowed CE’s Navy team to integrate a complete set of new brand assets, including icons, graphic treatments, and a new color palette, into the site, delivering a cohesive and unified look for the Navy.
The new Navy.com website, 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, as well as for potential recruits among the youth. For engagement with the community, it brings a robust, scalable and reliable platform to the table.
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 recruits to obtain honest news and opinions about life in the Navy.
Magnolia has earned deservedly high marks for extensibility and integration potential. Few systems can claim to be as open or as amenable to custom app development.