Contagious I/O

ROLE: LEAD DESIGNER
YEAR: 2013
AGENCY: MADE BY MANY

Redesigning Contagious’ collaborative research platform lifting sales by 120%

Background

Contagious helps brands and advertising agencies understand and adapt to the ever-shifting landscape of marketing communications, consumer culture and technology. One of the major strands of this service before Made by Many worked with them was ‘The Feed’ - a paid-for website and weekly email configured for each client covering the most relevant innovative campaigns, technologies and trends.

An example of The Feed

An example of The Feed

Contagious asked Made by Many to do two things: optimise the existing service and develop entirely new value propositions around the online business. Contagious wanted to transform ‘The Feed’, from being perceived by their customers as a ‘great-to-have’ luxury - into an indispensable ‘absolutely-can’t-live-without’ tool to empower their teams.


Talking to customers

Sketches used during initial customer research

Sketches used during initial customer research

Before I joined the team - Made by Many interviewed Contagious subscribers from some of the world’s leading brands and advertising agencies in order to understand their needs and expectations, their behaviours, perceptions and especially the dynamic between team members who accessed Contagious services.

Contagious’ content was already perceived as being of extremely high value, but it quickly became apparent that there was a problem with the way it spread within the organisations subscribing to it. ‘The Feed’s’ value depended on being actionable by brands but we found that the material was too often consumed passively and privately, limiting its impact to drive team decisions directly.


Concept development

Armed with these insights, we set about re-designing ‘The Feed’ so it would be more useful to front-line staff and would spread more readily within organisations. I started off exploring concepts at a lo-fidelity and presenting them back to Contagious editors. 

We then held prioritisation workshops and brand workshops to identify which features aligned to their editorial strengths and brand values.

Initial sketches for an article page

Initial sketches for an article page

We saw an opportunity to ‘weaponise’ The Feed: to turn tailored content into a new service layer that made Contagious’ more useful. This took The Feed way beyond being a purely editorial proposition, and the new toolset was renamed ‘Contagious I/O’.


Into production

Over the course of 8 weeks I used keynote to up fidelity, incorporate and push Contagious’s primarily print brand into a digital environment. I created light weight documentation, user flows and production ready assets for the service. 

I designed key features and tools around three themes:

Customisation

Subscribers can personalise the site by following specific brands or subjects and receive new content alerts.

 

Collections

Customers can collect and share the best Contagious content and use it to collaborate with colleagues.

 

Search

Better and more nuanced search functionality to help customers to make the most of I/O as a research tool.


Working alongside a development agency

I worked alongside external development partner New Bamboo (now Thoughtbot) to launch Contagious I/O. It can be tricky fostering the same sense of collaboration with third parties - different cultures, methodologies; it can be hard to get into your stride when working with others that aren’t on the same payroll as you. 

I’ve written further about my experiences from working with external development partners here


Impact

I/O is a product Contagious find easier than ever to sell because customers immediately identify its value. Subscriptions are up 120%.

Made by Many are a supremely talented bunch who not only coax you into asking ourselves the right questions, but aren’t afraid to push you harder into finding the rights answers. The process was genuinely collaborative.
– PAUL KEMP-ROBERTSON / CO-FOUNDER & EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, CONTAGIOUS


Contagious magazine & contagious.com

I also helped Contagious to shape and define other aspects of their digital offering.  By re-using elements from Contagious I/O and developing specific functionality, we created a digital counterpart to the award winning print quarterly Contagious Magazine. The subscription service truly reflects and enhances the print experience online.

Sketches for contagious.com

Sketches for contagious.com

I also re-designed contagious.com, giving Contagious a new web presence to showcase their services and provide first-hand examples of how their work benefits clients. No mean feat, creating a marketing site for an award winning company that has marketing expertise at the heart of everything they do. 


 

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