National Geographic’s iconic images are the company’s hallmark, and every user that comes to www.nationalgeographic.com expects to be wowed by the visual experience. So it was no small task for the firm and Brightspot to partner together to completely revamp National Geographic’s online video capabilities and presentation to create a visually stunning new site. By fully integrating with the video player platform, 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.
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.
Explained Jim Kelleher, VP at National Geographic, “It was very time consuming and manual for producers and editors to load content in our old in-house CMS. Additionally, we wanted to replace our existing online video player (OVP) with the Brightspot’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.”
Ping Pan, Brightspot project lead, expanded on Kelleher and Schmidt’s comments. “National Geographic thought that their previous video solution was uninspiring to the visitor and unnecessarily complex on the back end. We offered National Geographic the opportunity to wipe the slate clean and build an easy-to-use, efficient, and attractive alternative.”
A Brightspot Solution
National Geographic engaged Brightspot 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 Brightspot in to leverage their video experience and help us complete the job faster.”
“Their goal was to create a cinematic video experience,” said Pan. “National Geographic wanted users to be able to go broad or deep by subject, so ease of navigation was critical, as was enabling users to see related videos for each topic.” 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 created 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 software architect. “They needed an easy to use, intuitive editorial and publishing tool which made the Brightspot content business platform 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. Brightspot built a tool for bidirectional synchronization of metadata between its content business platform and the OVP so that any changes made on one end would always be reflected on the other. “Synchronizing communication between the Platform and Brightspot allowed producers and editors to save time and work more efficiently,” said Norcross.
Furthermore, Brightspot integrated with National Geographic’s internal company-wide taxonomy system for tagging content. Working closely with the National Geographic team, Brightspot 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.
“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.
“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. Brightspot worked at a very fast pace to deliver on time and on budget,” said Kelleher.
He continued, “The team had a genuine interest in getting it right and delivering a great product. From the beginning, they asked lots of questions, and they really listened. They were personally invested in understanding our needs and wants and then exactly meeting those. It was an extremely positive experience; Brightspot has a lot of advocates here at National Geographic.”
Download the National Geographic Case Study.