Client: Laufen Sanitary Ware
Team Members: Kurt Milam (working for OgilvyInteractive Worldwide)
Industry: Ceramics, Premium Bathroom Fixtures
Service Areas: Content Management System (CMS) Implementation, Online Product Database
Software: ART (in-house CMS), Oracle, XML & XSLT, Adobe Flash
Time Frame: 2003-2004
Laufen needed a single, uniform web presence to support its European and North American sales operations. The website had to provide country-specific and multilingual news, marketing materials and information on thousands of products. News and Marketing materials included press releases, printable handouts and an official product picture database (for use in advertising and promotional campaigns). Product information included product dimensions, colors and finishes, photographs, CAD files and printable product handouts.
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- The client needed:
- a single web presence to support existing operations in thirteen countries (Austria, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, England, Hungary, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Switzerland, the USA) and ten languages (Croatian, Czech, Dutch, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Portuguese, Slovakian)
- to address four target groups with one website (sales partners, architects and builders, homeowners, members of the press)
- a website that could be easily managed by non technical employees, allowing them to add, remove or edit content as necessary, without relying heavily on an expensive technical support team
- an elegant, modern website design that meshed well with the company’s reputation for providing premium, well-designed products
Implement a multilingual, fully internationalized CMS-based website including full integration with the client’s product and marketing materials databases (Oracle).
During the initial implementation phase, I (Kurt Milam) served as software architect and technical lead for a team of web producers and technicians who worked to implement an elegant, timeless design created by Austrian design star Thomas Mostböck.
Upon completion of the initial website implementation, I took over customer contact and project-management responsibilities for continuing maintenance and upgrade activities at the customer’s request. I worked closely with marketing personnel based at Laufen’s headquarters in Switzerland, as well as with technical professionals based at Roca’s (Laufen’s parent company) headquarters in Spain.
- The customer has a website:
- with an elegant, professional design
- that can be easily updated by marketing personnel with little technical knowledge or experience
- that communicates a wide array of easily searchable marketing and product information to a variety of consumers in ten languages across thirteen countries
- that is fully integrated with the company’s product and marketing materials databases
Coda: If you take a look at the Laufen site today, you may notice some cracks and wrinkles that have crept up over time. Techniques and technology have changed tremendously in the intervening years since my involvement with the Laufen project came to an end, early in 2004. It appears that Laufen has not chosen to invest the resources necessary to keep the website up-to-date in a technical sense. On the one hand, it’s gratifying to know that the site is still functional almost six years after it was initially completed. On the other hand, it’s clear that the site is due for a refresher, at least at the technical level.