Product design and delivery for new b2b publishing platform.

Screens of the new platform

CRU are a leading provider of market analysis, management consultancy and events for the commodities sector. They produce high quality research and offer prices advice in the metals, mining and fertilizer industries to clients all over the world. 

Our partnership with CRU

Digirati have acted as CRU's digital partner over many years delivering and supporting their customer publishing platform which provides rich market data and analysis online. We have recently been working on a refresh of CRU's publishing platform. This new platform involved a complete redesign of the UX (discussed below) as part of a rethink of the company's business model for digital products. The technical architecture was overhauled into a modern cloud based system utilising Azure web services. Other key technology components include Umbraco CMS, Solr Search Engine and PoolParty Taxonomy Manager. 

Customer Journey Mapping

We first started the design phase with stakeholder interviews and customer journey mapping to help visualise the customers' experience through their eyes. The aim was to understand and address the customers’ needs and pain points experienced across all channels of the service while supporting strategic business goals. We did this with a series of workshops to map the process out and then use data visualisation to produce the map itself.

The customer journey map included:

  • Step by step phase of the journey
  • Pain points and positive experiences
  • Channels and touch points
  • Customer main goals

As customer experience maps are an excellent tool that combines storytelling and visualisation, we were able to convey information in a way that was memorable to all stakeholders which in turn spurred collaborative conversation and change between departments.

Customer journey mapping workshop and outputs

Taxonomy and powertagging

It was identified that the introduction of a semantic tier would greatly enhance both the end-user experience of the platform and assist with the internal processes that drive it. We surveyed CRU’s metadata and created a standards-based taxonomy to map the business domain. This was then imported into a taxonomy management tool and integrated as part of Digirati’s Powertagging solution that enables editors to easily and consistently classify content and in doing so enrich the discovery opportunities for users.

Mapping key elements of the ontology into an easy to use interface.

Wireframing and Prototyping

In order to improve the overall customer experience of CRU’s online services, we conducted a number of co-design workshops with stakeholders which informed the work produced by our UX designers. The team focused on iterating a highly interactive and detailed prototype that was reviewed with stakeholders and centred on both the end client experience as well as the editorial experience of the analysts and researchers who produce the analysis and reports offered under CRU's services.

Over the course of the project, the prototype evolved from a communication tool pitched into board meetings into a fully detailed documentation channel used by the development team during the software architecture and building phases.

HTML wireframes

CRU's Visual Design and Pattern Library

The concept of a pattern library was introduced once a new visual style was established. In expert content and data services such as CRU’s it was imperative to provide a consistent look and feel with an emphasis in legibility and usability in general. The new CRU pattern library offered a scalable way to address this by providing the building blocks to quickly build these complex interactions including typography, layout, UI components, colour palette and iconography.

Visual Design Pattern Library