"It's a Ferrari of a system. Brightspot has an incredibly fast, sleek front end and the back end is intuitive, simple and effective. Basically, it helps us publish faster." MIKE SCHMIDT, DIRECTOR OF MULTIMEDIA NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
National Geographic’s iconic images are the company’s hallmark, and every online visitor expects to be wowed by the visual experience. So it was no small task completely revamping National Geographic’s online video capabilities and presentation to create a visually stunning new site. By fully integrating with video player solution thePlatform, Brightspot built a new and substantially improved way to manage, host, and present video content on video.nationalgeographic.com, creating a cinematic user experience worthy of the famous brand.
"We have some very experienced folks here at National Geographic - across the different disciplines - and they have ALL been impressed with Brightspot, " Scott Norcross, VP Media Systems Engineering, National Geographic, said.
“It was very time consuming and manual for producers and editors to load content in our old in-house CMS," said Jim Kelleher, vice president of project management at National Geographic. "Additionally, we wanted to replace our existing online video player (OVP) with thePlatform’s product, and we needed some improvements to our front end.” Added Mike Schmidt, director of multimedia at National Geographic, “We needed to improve our current web site across the board. It was slow and dated and didn’t work on mobile. It simply didn’t meet our customers’ or our internal needs.”
The National Geographic team knew their video experience was "uninspiring to the visitor and unnecessarily complex on the back end," said Ping Pan, Brightspot product manager. "Brightspot offered National Geographic the opportunity to wipe the slate clean and build an easy-to-use, efficient, and attractive alternative.”
National Geographic identified Brightspot as the platform to completely rework both the front and back ends of the video platform. Explained Scott Norcross, VP Media Systems Engineering, “To properly optimize video processing for our multiple business groups, we needed to establish a consistent solution on the front and back end. We brought in Brightspot to leverage their video experience and help us complete the job faster.”
Brightspot implemented the designs of the National Geographic digital design team on the new site with a unique dark blue background to enhance the bright, crisp colors of the videos. Featured Videos and Editor’s Picks sections allow National Geographic editors to easily curate and showcase favorite content. Kelleher laughed when he talked about the much-improved site, “We needed a face lift but ended up getting a face transplant!”
Brightspot offered a fully responsive website optimized for desktop, tablet, and mobile experiences. Site visitors are able to select, playback, search, and share videos on all devices within the new video experience.
“National Geographic had very specific requirements for the project,” remembered Lee Teague, Brightspot's Chief Architect. “They needed an easy to use, intuitive editorial and publishing tool which made Brightspot the perfect choice for them.” Brightspot provided National Geographic a customized interface to create and edit new pages, tag videos, and curate galleries around topics. Editors could preview videos inside Brightspot before publishing them and even create dynamic video pages from tags.
Another critical project requirement was integrating Brightspot with National Geographic’s existing online video player (OVP) developed by thePlatform. The development team at Brightspot built a tool for bidirectional synchronization of metadata between Brightspot and the OVP so that any changes made on one end would always be reflected on the other. “Synchronizing communication between thePlatform and Brightspot allowed producers and editors to save time and work more efficiently,” said Norcross.
Furthermore, Brightspot had to integrate with National Geographic’s internal company-wide taxonomy system for tagging content. Working closely with the National Geographic team, the Brightspot team developed a seamless solution between all systems, significantly simplifying and speeding up editorial and development workflows for National Geographic.
Fully integrating Brightspot and the existing OVP provided significant flexibility to allow National Geographic to further evolve their video products with additional video page redesigns, enhanced video player deployments, and advanced advertising policies that would have been costly and time-consuming to pursue before this project.
"The editorial team is in awe of how simple and easy the workflow process is with Brightspot compared to our previous CMS." Jim Kelleher, Vice President National Geographic
“We have received extremely positive feedback internally from senior management,” said Kelleher. “Analytically, the user growth on our site has exceeded our projections. We are more than happy.” Added Schmidt, “Having video on mobile work seamlessly is a huge traffic driver for us. Plus, the incredibly fast search tools let visitors dig deep and spend more time on our site.”
In just 3 months from start to finish, Brightspot created a fully custom solution for National Geographic that precisely met their complex and multifaceted requirements.
“I’ve worked with a lot of different CMSs. I immediately saw the benefit of a CMS that was geared directly toward editorial publishing and how that would have a big, positive impact on our internal workflow,” remarked Schmidt.
"The Brightspot team really did a great job on this on a very tight schedule. They established a crisp and modern front-end design and a solid solution to optimize back-end processing. There were certainly complexities encountered along the way, but whenever we thought something might be hard to implement or solve, the team would come back with a simple and logical solution. They clearly demonstrated a success-oriented approach from day one." Scott Norcross, VP Media Systems Engineering National Geographic
“There were so many different components to this project: designing a great user experience, lifting a video site off someone else’s CMS, making sure all technical issues were addressed, and introducing a new CMS to our editorial team," said Kelleher. "The team worked at a very fast pace to deliver on time and on budget."