As automated driving technologies emerged, Nexteer Automotive – a company that designs and manufactures steering and driveline systems – found itself competing not just with traditional automotive companies for talent, but also tech firms like Google, Apple, and Uber.
Their new website needed to help them move beyond the stereotypes of a blue collar Michigan manufacturer and embrace their growing identity as an innovator in advanced driving technologies.
We spent months meeting with Nexteer stakeholders to learn the answers to our most important questions:
- Who is using the site?
- What are users trying to accomplish on the website?
- What message should the website convey to the rest of the world?
We learned a lot. Their insights were condensed into a simplified, ten-page document that guided every decision moving forward. With so many stakeholders with wildly different experiences and opinions, it would have been impossible to progress without a shared vision for the website’s purpose, audience, and aesthetics.
Rather than rely on photos of Nexteer products, we elected to employ stylized 3D models instead. These provided a couple of advantages:
- 3D models connote “technology”, which is important for Nexteer’s brand.
- Nexteer’s products are manufactured in distant facilities around the globe. 3D models allow those products to be presented in a cohesive manner rather than using photos taken in different conditions by different photographers.
- They release new products all the time. Photographing every new product would be slow, expensive, and inconvenient, whereas 3D models are ready before the product even rolls off the assembly line.
Some pages require in-depth technical information, others need only need a bit of introductory text. Some need embedded videos, others need photos. A series of page templates and content modules allow the website’s managers to make any type of content fit into the site’s structure.
Nexteer is headquartered near Detroit, traded on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, and has a physical presence on 5 continents. It was essential that the website be launched in multiple languages.
We quickly learned it was not as easy as copying and pasting translated text. For example, it is nearly impossible to implement responsive web design in Chinese websites while adhering to their grammar rules. In Polish, diacritic characters and dramatic differences in word lengths required that we make changes to the site’s design and underlying code to ensure it displayed properly.
Once translated, we provided training sessions to Nexteer’s global marketing teams via Skype so they understood how to manage their site moving forward.
A website this large is a team effort. You need technical information from engineers, insight from investor relations managers, resources from the purchasing department, feedback from the marketing team, technical guidance from the IT staff, and translation assistance from Nexteer employees around the globe.
But Nexteer has a heck of a team. Their new website is a strong first step in redefining their identity as an innovator in the automotive industry.