We recently completed a large-scale site rebuild for Wenger North America, the maker of the genuine Swiss Army Knife. Now that the system has been live for a few weeks, I can say confidently that this project is a great success that highlights both some standard Newfangled approaches and some new innovations as well. This was also Jason Adams first major project that he managed from start to finish. You can see him pictured left bearing his very own Swiss Army Knife with the inscription, Wengerna.com Relaunch 2008. (Wenger expressed their thanks yesterday by sending each person involved in the project a complimentary Swiss Army Knife- very nice of them!)
This system is a fairly large stand-alone ecommerce application that is also integrated with Wengers internal product management system, which allows it to reconcile web and warehouse inventory on a daily basis and batch process daily orders once theyve shipped. In addition to this, which was a complicated undertaking on its own, the site has a few other details that I thought Id point out.
Within the CMS, Wenger has many different options for setting discounts on products. Below are two examples. The first shows the CMS edit screen to define a user discount code, which in this case is a percentage discount applied to all products within the Swiss Army Knife category purchased during the week of September 3 – 10. The second shows the CMS edit screen to define a bundle discount, in this case that a user purchasing 1 Evolution 10 knife would get the nylon pouch accessory at no additional charge during the week of September 3 – 10. In both cases, the amount, type, product and/or category and date range are flexible.
While a pretty minor detail, I also wanted to highlight a CMS back-end feature that we call a picker search tool. Many content types have attributes that are shared, such as discounts, categories or related products, so we use a picker to allow the user to find those attributes in the database and choose one or more to assign to the content they are currently working with. For many sites, the list that might appear in a picker could be quite long, especially one like Wenger with a large product catalog. To make this easier on the user, we developed a simple search tool that lets the user find what they want to pick and assign multiple items at once. Its nothing glamorous, but it makes what could be a major chore a simple task.
Another great example of a doing more with less solution in the CMS for Wenger is the image-mapping tool we built. Wenger wanted to be able to upload product images and label them on the fly, so that users could mouse-over details and get descriptions of what they are. This is especially helpful with their knives, which have many details when show with all their contents exposed (for an extreme example of this, see the Giant). Our developer, Steve Brock, built a simple tool (show below), that allows the user to create shapes on top of the product images by simply pointing and clicking with their mouse, then creating a label and description. The site takes care of assigning coordinates. Again, its not that its especially fancy or hasnt been done before- what makes this great is that it does exactly what it needs to do in the simplest way for the user. Nice job, Steve!
Finally, there are two small but nicely done user-interface details that I wanted to point out. The first is just a simple way to hide the shopping cart as the user is navigating through the product catalog (see first image below). The second is the advanced search tool that the user can access in the header. When the search tool is opened, it floats above the page and offers 8 different categorical approaches to searching. The below example shows the options for searching within the watches category.
Overall, this project went through without a hitch, which was a major relief given the level of complexity and scope of their operation. Without our project anatomy and the expertise of our team, I know this would not have happened. Great job to everyone involved, including our friends at Sullivan & Company, the creative agency we partnered with, and our team- Mark, Jason, and Steve Brock.