AOL Time Warner

Edited highlights from more than 5 years as lead producer on the AOL UK portals team

1. AOL portal home page – Live 8 and beyond

The brief:

Redesign and relaunch aol.co.uk home page to re-position the portal following AOL’s Live 8 exposure.

The challenge:

  • Begin to transition the portal towards a unified member/ non-member experience.
  • Balance the requirements of editorial, sales and marketing stakeholders.
  • Reflect UK brand identity whilst conforming to global brand guidelines.
  • Reconcile local and international portal product strategy expectations.
  • Maximise short-term Live 8 exposure within a sustainable, long-term solution.

The solution:

  • A single shared member/ non-member page architecture.
  • Intelligent, dynamic page elements to target member/non-member audiences.
  • Flexible, high impact content programming space.
  • UK branding and content within recognisable US template.
  • Large new multimedia UAC ad formats accommodated.
  • Renewed focus on core communications products.
  • Embedded module for monetised, task-orientated, searchable content.
  • Full CSS implementation for style and layout.
  • W3C Accessibility compliant.

2. Celebrity Love Match

The brief:

Devise a new interactive content feature for use across AOL channels.

The solution:

  • A game of matching pairs using DHTML drag-and-drop interactions.
  • Authored using Macromedia Coursebuilder software with adapted logic and feedback.
  • Re-usable in a variety of situations with minimal production costs.

The result:

  • Very popular with AOL members.
  • Adopted by several AOL channels, including Entertainment, Motoring and Lifestyle.

3. James Bond 007 Game

The brief:

Create an entertaining game to accompany a micro-site dedicated to the latest Bond film premiere.

The solution:

  • A series of mission-style objectives to identify Secret Service potential.
  • Incorporated a number of DHTML interactions including drag-and-drop, sliders, text-entry and multiple choice.
  • Final assessment feedback with times and scores for each objective to encourage competition and repeat visits.

4. AOL 9 Launch

Home page – First-time visitor
Home page – Returning member
Member acquisition hub

The brief:

Support marketing efforts to promote release of AOL 9.0 client software and new access product suite. Update site in line with new global style guide.

The challenge:

  • Maximise marketing home page real-estate without alienating existing AOL members and other interests within the business.
  • Showcase exclusive broadband content to users on a mixture of existing connection types.

The solution:

  • A dynamic home page to serve differentiated member and non-member views from a single shared domain space.
  • Distinct pathing for separate audiences.
  • First European portal implementation of AOL Screen Name Service for member authentication and recognition.
  • Complete overhaul of marketing area with new structure, copy and branding.
  • A comprehensive Flash showcase demo tailored to narrowband and broadband connection speeds.

The result:

  • Satisfied both acquisition marketing and member service interests within the business.
  • Served the needs of prospective members with minimal disruption to existing members.
  • Launched on time to coincide with TV and press promotions.

5. AOL Advent Calendar

The brief:

Reinvent AOL’s annual Advent Calendar prize give-away.

The challenge:

  • Take a tired old HTML format and bring it alive.
  • Deliver a flexible, easy production process within a dynamic template-driven design.
  • Incorporate non-intrusive commercial opportunities.

The solution:

  • A simple, fun, interactive Flash-based design.
  • 24 short festive animations revealed progressively throughout the run-up to Christmas.
  • ‘Provided by’ partner sponsorships embedded in every archived movie and prize landing page.

The result:

  • Generated ~20K daily competition entries with regular Welcome Screen promotion.
  • Ran on the AOL service in various iterations for more than 4 years.
  • Made the sales team and their clients very happy during the festive period!

6. Halloween Haunted House

The brief:

It’s Halloween – have some fun with it!

The solution:

  • An editorially driven micro-site using a haunted house analogy.
  • Spooky DHTML effects galore: disembodied eyeballs track the mouse pointer; a ghostly apparition floats in and out of the page; assorted menacing kitchen implements levitate of their own accord.

The result:

  • Much amusement had by all.
  • AOL members liked it too!

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