AMERICAN EXPRESS: OPEN FORUM

Immersive stories on small business success.

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MY ROLE ON THE PROJECT:

Research, UX, wireframes, QA

PROJECT TIME:

Aug - Dec 2014

THE CHALLENGE

Create the first use of a new, visually rich, content experience on OPEN Forum.

We worked with OPEN Forum by American Express and created a new series highlighting the impact small businesses have in their communities — just in time for Small Business Saturday. OPEN Forum came to us with the goal of creating new experiences that will motivate SBOs to do more in their community. Our key KPI is to increase the average time users spend on OPEN Forum. 

The existing OPEN Forum articles are short and packed with information. They often could be seen as to-do lists because they are formatted as "do x, y and z to success in A".  While content like this is helpful and informative, most readers get what they needed and leave the site. With the new long form series, we saw an opportunity to create unique content that will get users hooked and make OPEN Forum stand out in the large pool of content sites.

THE APPROACH

Make impactful, modular pieces that together paint big pictures.

We spent the first part of our discovery phase researching and writing down a list of content and features we recommending on having. Because our end goal was to create a customizable template that'd work for all these different stories, we decided to make the design very modular in order to provide the flexibility they needed.

After many brainstorming sessions, we mocked up multiple design solutions for these modules. We also created primary and secondary design solutions for some modules. For example, an image could be assigned as primary or secondary — a primary image would take up the full browser width; whereas a secondary image could be much smaller and be inlined next to a block of text.  

Creating a complete ecosystem.

After defining the features and the design of these modules, we spent time mapping out all potential touch points a long form article could reach. After all, adding a new piece to an existing ecosystem is not easy. We wanted to make sure we are creating a better and complete OPEN Forum ecosystem. 

 

Each story features storytelling photography, infographics, and videos. It also provides bite-size, linkable content such as quotes, related business advice, and featured members for readers to explore more contextual content throughout the OPEN Forum ecosystem. 

After figuring out the general structure of the page, we moved into making detailed wireframes. 

 

All elements were then templatized and built into short-codes in the backend. When creating a new article, the content team can easily insert the element they need to tell the story. 

 

To create the engaging storytelling experience we were looking for, we played with the transitions for each element. We mocked up a prototype and shared with the dev team.  

Amazing results all around.

We launched our first small business success story in November 2014. We got amazing results and feedback from our users — in just one short month, Local Business Stories got 66,634 unique page views and the average time spent on page is 174% more than regular articles on OPEN Forum. In 2015, Local Business Stories won CMA's Best Series of Articles Award. 

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AGENCY

Kettle 

CREDITS

Olivier Peyre, Creative Director 
Lydia White, Art Director
Jesse Yuan, Visual Design
Suzy Cho, Visual Design 

AWARDS

2015 Content Marketing Awards Winner - Best Series of Articles for Print or Digital