Tuesday, December 20th, 2011
Here at Fluid, we love the iPad. We love all the possibilities it presents, and all of the amazing types of innovation it makes possible. Fortunately for us, our clients at Craftsman share that view. Coupled with a DIY ethos and a drive to do something really different, we went about designing and building Torque, the first shoppable iPad magazine for Craftsman.
Fluid’s guiding principle as a company is that content, community and creativity together drive commerce. With Torque, we put that belief into action by creating an experience that took the best of Craftsman’s vast amount branded content, added in their highly engaged community of DIY’ers and brand enthusiasts and transformed it into a richly interactive, fully shoppable iPad magazine.
The list of innovative things we did for this app is pretty comprehensive:
- Almost all content within the app is actionable in some way. Whether it’s shopping, signing up for the Craftsman Club, engaging with the brand on Facebook and Twitter, following along with DIY projects, or accessing exclusive videos and articles, the content leads the way
- Using an updated version of Sears eCommerce API, we enabled users to add products to their cart right from articles and content within the app, then checkout seamlessly on craftsman.com
- Live video streams directly from the Craftsman Experience studio, and the app alerts users when the stream goes live
- Social media streams are universally accessible, giving every interaction a potential
- Blurs the line between editorial, branded content and eCommerce
- Content is streamed into the app via a CDN, allowing easier updates without having to release full updates into the app store
How Fluid designed it
Fluid started the discovery process by first auditing all of Craftsman’s existing content as well as their upcoming campaigns and initiatives. We then created an editorial structure and content flow for the app, which is actually much more like creating a magazine for print than creating an “app.”
After nailing down the table of contents, Fluid worked out all of the possible user interactions. This included everything from basic page behaviors all the way down to multiple content interaction scenarios. As we worked on the interaction design and started merging it with our editorial structure, we began brainstorming ideas for an editorial voice and identity. Fluid presented one naming option to Craftsman: “Torque”. Craftsman promptly trademarked the name.
We then began the process of breaking the editorial structure apart into smaller chunks to work on. For content that already existed (like the step by step projects), Fluid redesigned it to fit into the edgier, grittier, DIY-inspired look and feel of the app. For content that needed to be created or expanded, Fluid designed those sections from scratch and provided clear direction and guidance to the Craftsman marketing team so that they could start writing those remaining sections – the most notable of which are the Top 100 and Mystery Car Vault. Our process continued on iteratively until the content for the entire experience was completely fleshed out.
How Fluid built it
On the UX and visual design side, Fluid began prototyping very early on in the creative process. In some of the very first designs presented, we used video layers in Photoshop and exported the files as quicktime movies so that the client could immediately see how both the look and feel and the interactivity worked together.
In order to make sure that the eCommerce layer worked seamlessly with Craftsman’s existing system, Fluid worked with Craftsman’s technology team to create new API’s that allowed Craftsman’s “Quick View” to be displayed within the app. Adding items to a cart was seamless via the UIWebView (in-app browser), and checkout was handled by craftsman.com. Once the app was in working order, the entire tech, creative and ux team all spent time working together to test for bugs, optimize, and refine the experience. The final handoff was to the Sears Mobile team, who then submitted the app to iTunes for approval. The app was approved in one weeks time.
Why we think it’s cool
Opportunities like this are rare. Fluid got to create, name, design, and build a branded, shoppable iPad magazine on the hottest technology platform in existence for one of the most well-respected brands in the world. At Fluid, we believe strongly that experiences like this – the ones that merge content, community and creativity in delightful and innovative ways – are the future of eCommerce and brand engagement. We were honored to work with a legendary brand like Craftsman and their very talented marketing team to create a cutting edge product that their consumers are thrilled about.