A clean sweep and a big win

Sometimes, if you truly want to change direction, you need to throw everything out and start from scratch.

It’s probably the hardest thing to do – to challenge all the decisions that came before and make the call to sweep the table clean.

But as a creative agency, these are opportunities we relish.

A different kind of MLS

Based in St. Louis, MARIS is a regional MLS with aspirations to change the way its constituency and the industry at large view what an MLS can be.

To make this happen, new MARIS CEO Tim Dain and Marketing Director Quinn Nichols wanted to reinvent the company’s online presence to reflect their friendly and professional approach to service.

From the moment we sat across the conference room table from them, we knew this engagement would be the kind of project we like. They had a vision for what they wanted their website to do for their organization, but were not overly prescriptive on how to get there.

From the URL to the content strategy and the company’s visual identity – all of it was fair game for a change.

A new digital strategy

The first thing we identified was a need to make it easier for MARIS members to access the content on the site. Far too much of it previously had been locked up behind a firewall.

Most of MARIS’ site visitors, when we spoke to them, did not know the support content even existed. It was a good reminder not to assume people will take the time to look for stuff – even if they really want it.

This insight guided the rest of the strategy. We decided that the new site would be tailored specifically for three distinct personas to which we needed to deliver one thing: instant discoverability.

For “new user” and “returning professional” personas we focused on providing on-demand education, all of which would be available in the form of a brand-new library of videos and online support materials. All of this content was made available outside of any login or paywall.

For the “pro-user” persona, we focused on building deep product pages that showcase the business solutions MARIS offers:

Making this content-heavy approach workable required a strong UX pattern and a reusable card design system, which you can see echoed throughout the site.

It also necessitated a fresh, simple design that was applied consistently across the site, even on the company’s blog:

We worked closely with MARIS’ development partner to ensure the website design was mobile-responsive, quick to load and easy to use.

A new digital identity

The new website was the centerpiece of a new visual system we designed for MARIS. Our goal was to give the company an identity that better reflected its friendly and professional approach to serving its membership.

In order to accomplish those goals, we created a series of illustrations for the site to give it personality and a more high-tech feel:

A logo redesign was in order:

As was an update to their color palette, which shifted the organization to a more energetic and amenable place that was more reflective of their brand’s personality:

We designed all of these elements to be digital-first, but made sure they were transferable to other touchpoints, like business cards:

We also applied the new design to video bumpers and other assets to make sure a consistent brand look and feel was everywhere. This matters, and the MARIS team got this.

Wakeup call

Since the site went live at the beginning of October, it has enjoyed a significant spike in user visits. They have also had a record high number of webinar registrations and video plays, validating the “content-first” strategy. Both Vendor Alley and WAV Group also weighed in with kudos.

These things are all great. But the MARIS team’s willingness to place their trust in us to help them become who they wanted to be is immensely gratifying.

I expect big things from MARIS in the months and years to come.