Titleist project recap: interview with Liz Valicenti

by Emily Powers

Acushnet Company is home to several international brands including Titleist and FootJoy. In the spring of 2015, we got a call from Liz Valicenti, Acushnet’s Director of Interactive Marketing. Liz was ready to tackle a fully responsive redesign of titleist.com. We sat down with Liz to talk about that exciting journey and the impact our work together has had.

Emily: What were your goals and vision for the site redesign?

Liz: First and foremost we had to go responsive. Our audience was very, very quickly moving from desktop to mobile users. We knew we were missing out on a lot of traffic and were frustrating our audience by not having a fully responsive site. That was our number one priority.

titleist-small-screen-homepage

Titleist’s mobile homepage. Click to see full-sized image.

Second, we wanted to be able to easily make updates to not only the U.S. site but all of the global sites that follow the same design. We wanted to be a lot more nimble about new product launches. We needed to be spending less time on creating and designing new pages and more time on quality content.

Finally, we simply wanted an updated design. We actually hadn’t fully redesigned the site in ten or fifteen years. Our company and our products are best in class and we really needed our websites to reflect that.

Click to see full size image.

Titleist’s homepage before working with Fresh Tilled Soil. Click to see full-sized image.

 

titleist-new-homepage

Titleist’s new homepage created in partnership with Fresh Tilled Soil. Click to see full-sized image.

Emily: How would you define your target customer?

Liz: Our audience is simply the dedicated golfer. On Titleist.com it’s anyone that’s looking for more information about Titleist. Team Titleist is our online community within titleist.com. Here, we find we have a lot higher percentage of loyalists and those we call brand ambassadors, golfers who are actively engaging with the brand and community.

Team Titleist video page

Team Titleist video page. Click to see full-sized image.

Emily: In crafting the site redesign, what were you looking for people to feel when they first arrive? What tone, what experience, what emotions do you want them to feel when they first arrive?

Liz: We want them to immediately get a feel for our brand. Titleist is a premium brand – the number one ball in golf, high performance, premium, excellence…all of these things. We try to have the same image reflected in the website – elegance, classic, classy, premium, high quality and educational. But as it translates to digital we also have to ensure it’s easy to use, easy to navigate, with a great user experience. All the things that we know are best in class in the digital world.

No matter what, we are always thinking, “What is the golfer going to be doing?” We just launched our 917 line of drivers and we told our audience, “Hey, go give them a try.” This immediately sent a ton of people to our website. What are they going  to do when they arrive at Titleist.com? How are they going to get there? What’s their experience, are they going to be frustrated? Are they going to have any kind of negative experience that would then reflect on the brand? Or are we going to give them as great of an experience online as they are going to get when they go to that fitting event? So that’s our mindset when we think about the experience of our website.

Titleist's driver mobile page. Click to see full sized-image.

Titleist’s driver mobile page. Click to see full sized-image.

Emily: What do you recall as some of the challenges and surprises along the way as you went through this great journey with us?

Liz: Oh boy … How wonderful the project manager Tim was!

The first and most refreshing part of working with FTS was the flexibility and agility displayed. We didn’t need to be rigidly crammed into a certain process, the team would say, “okay the client has different needs right there, they don’t need this portion of the process quite as much as they need this portion.” So we could skip a lot of the hard work we had previously accomplished around who our audience was and skip right to execution, crafting the best user experience, and building it.

Emily: The piece that I wanted to dig into a little more is the reusable components that we delivered – especially the coded style guide.

Liz: That has been amazing because people come to us and ask, “Hey do you have a brand guide? A style guide?” There’s been at least three or four instances where we have been able to pass along the style guide to outside vendors that are working either with my team or another team within the company. This guarantees every project stays within the brand guidelines. It also reduces the cost of a project, the time it takes to get it done, and the amount of resources. Because you don’t have to make all the hundreds of decisions like, “Oh my gosh, what is this gonna look like? What font are we gonna use? How big should it be?” The coded style guide provides a solid baseline, here’s where you start, plug in the html and then you can put in your pictures and your copy. It’s just so much easier and getting projects done has been way, way, way simpler and easier and less headaches. It’s been great.

Titleist's style guide overview page. Click to see full sized-image.

Titleist’s style guide overview page. Click to see full sized-image.

Then the other thing along the same lines as the style guide is the use of templates the FTS team developed for us. With templates, our experience getting a new page up and replicating it across our fifteen global sites is insanely cheaper, faster, and better. At times, we’re launching a new product category, let’s say it’s irons, and we have four different irons within that category.

Those pages are very, very detailed. Then you have to take them and copy them over fifteen different sites and have everything translated. In the past, we would design each page from scratch every time. Honestly, I remember a couple of times the development cost alone on a new page would be exorbitant. Then you have to extend it across all the global markets. The cost at times was insane.

Now that we have the templates from FTS, the only time we have any cost to a product launch is if we need a new template or if we have to do some sort of customization.

These templates have radically changed the way we create product pages and create any new content pages, we can literally create a new page overnight.

The team at Titleist can use the style guide to create new pages. Click to see full sized-image

The team at Titleist can use the style guide to create new pages. Click to see full-sized image.

Emily: Clearly our work together has had a positive impact internally on the work your team can do. Following the site update, do you have any sense of feedback from your audience or an increase in engagement or share-ability of the site?

Liz: I think the biggest thing is that we are more eager to send people to our site. Previously, we had a responsive email template but we didn’t have a responsive website! We were reluctant to send people to the site, especially mobile users. Now that we have a redesigned and fully responsive site, we definitely see increase in our mobile time on site, and number of pages accessed. That’s definitely been huge. In addition, because we’re a responsive site we no longer need to support an app, and we’ve saved a ton of money.

We definitely see more engagement on Team Titleist discussion boards because previously you really couldn’t do it at all from a mobile device.

team-titleist-discussion

Team Titleist discussion page. Click to see full-sized image.

Emily: In general, what do you think is your favorite aspect of the new site?

Liz: Definitely the page templates, and the ease and independence we now have moving forward.

Emily: What are some exciting things that are happening over there? Is there anything big that you’re excited about working on?

Liz: I think our My PRO V1 direct-to-consumer site is new and exciting for us. Beyond that, the future for us is creating a hub on our website – a portal where all golfers can go as an entry point to then seamlessly link them to whatever they want from there. As an example, say you want to learn about golf balls today, you get to the website and find the golf balls, but you also are directed to a ball fitter or ball fitting experience. We want all the resources at their fingertips, and we want it all to start right there. This seamless experience increases loyalty to our brand, which is our ultimate goal. We’re not looking for short term sales as much as we’re looking for long term customers who are brand loyalists.

Emily: Excellent. Thanks so much Liz for walking me through the journey and the impact of your site redesign. We look forward to diving into the next project together!

About Emily Powers

“Ask Emily” is the refrain most commonly heard around the Fresh Tilled Soil office. Type A, obsessed with lists and spreadsheets, fervent on follow-up: she’s...