The France Telecom-Orange Group’s corporate website orange.com has a sleek, new look. With a new user interface, a new design, new functionalities and new technologies, it represents months of teamwork to create a new website that’s accessible to all; with an aim to meet current Web demands, and provide just the information you’re looking for – and more!
Redesigning a site of this size is no mean feat. With hundreds of pages to migrate, thousands of links to validate, countless images to resize, and technical constraints right, left and center, it’s a mammoth task! Dominique Rodà, orange.com’s Editorial Manager, Marc Pinon, the website’s Technical Manager and Jean-Claude Guyot, the Graphics and User Interface Manager, tell us more about this 2012 version of orange.com.
Dominique Rodà on orange.com content
When was orange.com last redesigned?
Dominique Rodà: The last version of orange.com was rolled out in January 2008, so an eternity ago in web-time!
This new version is completely different from the old site, is that what you were aiming for?
Dominique Rodà: Yes, we certainly wanted to make a clean break. That’s why we did a lot of work upfront, particularly with the Branding team, on enhancing Orange’s corporate identity.
How is the new site organized?
Dominique Rodà: A redesign presents the ideal opportunity for a thorough review of website content. Based on the review, we decided to raise the profile of some content that hadn’t been sufficiently brought to the fore; for example, governance, to follow current standards, sponsorship, for which there is a real public appetite, and of course, the live Orange blog. J
What were the main challenges associated with the migration?
Dominique Rodà: There were lots! As well as reviewing and redrafting content, which is key for a site like ours, we also had to get to grips with a new back-end system. That’s a lot to deal with all at once!
What are the next steps for the orange.com team?
Dominique Rodà: There are lots of projects in the pipeline for the near future; we’ll be adding an interactive module to the sponsorship section of the site, enhancing even further our links to social networking, publishing a series of information resources on our core business, and much more. We’re not going to be bored!
Jean-Claude Guyot on orange.com graphics
The new orange.com website has a brand new design. How did you ensure that it was developed in line with Orange’s corporate identity?
Jean-Claude Guyot: That’s right; the site has a completely new design. For our homepage, we have moved away from our patchwork layout in favor of one that incorporates many more images. Developments in the equipment available to Internet users have made it possible to move to a 1,200-pixel screen, which is a much more comfortable size in terms of page layout.
The site is built around a series of easy-to-manage modules that can be embedded in any page to provide, for example, areas of pure content, news banners or widgets, etc. The team’s name for this set of stackable modules is the “layer cake”, and it allows us to deliver appropriate, “customized” content for every section of the website.
Lastly, we now make very limited use of Flash in our content. Instead, we use full HTML, to make the site as accessible as possible to our visually-impaired audience.
Of course, all these developments took place in consultation with the Branding team, who shared with us their upcoming plans for enhancing Orange’s corporate identity.
How did you approach the user interface?
Jean-Claude Guyot: With the aim of building a simple site providing easy access to information. We’re not selling anything; we’re simply presenting information as clearly as possible to our varied audience, whether they’re customers with a question to be answered, shareholders, investors or journalists. It wasn’t a question of trying to “dazzle” anyone, but simply to offer clearly laid-out content so that a user looking for specific information can find it quickly. At the same time, we’ve made sure it’s visually appealing, too, by including as many graphics as possible in the content.
To ensure that project requirements were met, we called upon Uzik, a communications agency who know our business very well thanks to their work with us on previous projects.
What inspired the design?
Jean-Claude Guyot: The web itself was obviously an immediate source of inspiration in regards to current trends, and the websites of other CAC40 index companies and leading telecom companies were a particularly useful resource. Each member of the team put forward their idea of the ideal website, ensuring that everyone’s input was reflected in the wish list and definition of must-have features. And of course, our agency, with their infectious enthusiasm for the Internet, was able to put forward solutions, which led to what you see today.
Marc Pinon on orange.com technology
What are the major technological developments in the new version of orange.com?
Marc Pinon: The new orange.com website was entirely built using the most widely-used and scalable current technologies. Using the open source engine of eZ Publish, we were able to reintegrate all the content, as well as the front- and back-end functionalities that visitors and contributors to the site were asking for.
We had to make seamless additions of new tools and cross-functional information for our specialist orange.com audience, without any interruption to site availability. Whether they’re customers, the telecommunication media, finance professionals, or one of the Group’s partners throughout the world, users must never be more than two clicks away from the comprehensive, up-to-date information they need, whenever they visit the site. We’ve also added a number of new elements, such as feeds from other sites in the Group, sharing functionalities, voice transformation and speech synthesis, as well as various context-specific widgets.
Our desire to integrate social networking and online feeds meant meeting new technical standards to incorporate the various source formats, such as RSS, Twitter and other XML formats.
We used CSS3 and Ajax technologies to build independent objects that contributors can access in the CMS and call from within any node (section) of orange.com. Our in-house name for this is the “layer cake”. That gives you an idea of just how many templates, modules and widgets we have available. Managing the site using these “relational objects” simplifies the back-end and more specifically, it allows content to be displayed or hidden for different sections or sub-sections of the website.
The site offers content in English, French, Spanish, Polish and Romanian. Every subject can be displayed in multiple languages, but contributors can decide which languages should apply to each individual piece of content.
What were the technical difficulties associated with the migration?
Marc Pinon: The main challenge of this project was developing the platform, along with the back-end and front-end tools within 6 months, without impacting on the content that contributors began to migrate right from the start of the project.
As is often the case, the biggest challenge was releasing the site to production, once development was complete and the pre-production release had been signed off. To ensure the integrity of each production release, content uploaded to the pre-production site was extracted and synchronized with the delivery package. All of the content (CSS, media files, JS and BDD) was then released to production.
Lastly, IT&L@b, who was responsible for the development, made it their role to develop and integrate right down to the last pixel, whilst guaranteeing a high-quality, accessibility-compliant coding that was in line with the project schedule and budget.
What type of server does the new orange.com site run on?
Marc Pinon: The platform comprises an array of cache, web, administration and database servers. Information about the number of servers, their roles and configuration is confidential as the first rule of site security is that you don’t divulge your web hosting structure, even when your choice of technologies – Linux/Apache/PHP/MySQL – is well known.
Our hosting company, Multimedia Business Services, guarantees a VLAN server farm where the elements are redundant, beyond its own network infrastructure.