‘Hey big brand, who even visits your site anymore?’

Seb Sabouné
Sep 12, 2018 · 6 min read

Cocktail workshops, bagpipes and karaoke. These three words aren’t normally associated with design projects, but redesigning jamesonwhiskey.com had all of that and more.

For this project, we combined traditional market research with a user centric design approach to create a beautiful, high performance brand website for Jameson Whiskey.

Here’s how

Getting to know ‘the brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously’

From the outset, this project was buzzing with energy. The Jameson team wanted to redesign their entire website with an attitude that forms part of their whole brand identity. This was something that they hadn’t done in years, and to get the ball rolling they asked all pitching companies to come to Dublin for a two-day briefing. Needless to say, we were pretty excited.

A flight later and we were in Dublin. When we arrived at Jameson we were given a tour of the newly refurbished and redesigned distillery, where we learnt all about the history of the brand in an incredibly well designed space, accentuated with just the right amount of technology to let the brand story speak for itself, without being flashy. The whole experience was meticulously thought out, and the team at Jameson was incredibly proud of the outcome.

Once briefed, we came away knowing that we wanted to deliver a similar taste for the site — a redesign that made everyone proud.

Show & Tell and Retrospective in Dublin

Understanding the brief

The team at Jameson already had a clear strategy with defined goals. Their website needed to perform better in order to capture more data, and the design needed to work for over 40 markets around the world. What they were looking for was someone to approach the brief with their signature attitude.

For us, this was perfect. We already had enough information to do initial designs and content strategy based on all of Jameson’s collected research and insights, and what was especially great was that we got to ask simple, fundamental questions, like why? Why would someone visit jamesonwhiskey.com in the first place?

Delivering the pitch

We pitched an approach that would combine all of Jameson’s knowledge, passion, research and ambition with our own knowledge on how to launch a great product with a user-centric approach.

Once we had a pitch deck put together, we began to wonder if there was some way in which we could make it memorable — preferably with some of that Jameson attitude. As luck would have it, our designer Jason happens to be a world champion bagpipe player, so we asked him to start off the pitch with a tune.

Thankfully, it struck the right note.

Output from workshop

Catch, Connect, Convert

From the beginning, we set out to establish what we already knew, and what we didn’t. What we didn’t know was what the audience was expecting from jamesonwhiskey.com. We didn’t know how to grab their attention, how to get them to give us their details to stay in touch, or how to get them to come back.

Together with the Jameson team we created a framework to guide our decisions for content strategy and design. We called it Catch, Connect, Convert:

  • Catch — How do we grab the audience’s attention, and guide them to the website?
  • Connect — When we have their attention, make sure that what they see is what they were expecting.
  • Convert — Convince them that there is more where this came from.

We chose this approach because in practice, this is how the system works. For the prototype, we used an extremely popular part of the website: the drinks section.

  • Catch — Make sure we have content for the most searched whiskey cocktails, e.g. an Old Fashioned or an Irish Coffee.
  • Connect — Show an exciting image of the cocktail, what they need to make it, and how it’s done.
  • Convert — Engage them in other drinks recipes, or have them sign up for a drinks newsletter.

How do you know it works?

With the framework in place, all of our ideas were put to the test — literally, in front of the target audience. We interviewed selected groups from each of Jameson’s markets and handed over our prototypes to be tested in a sprint-based process.

Each sprint began with a workshop exploring two things: the pages, and the brand. We brought together every person with a stake in the part we were designing at that point, including business unit owners and Jameson’s technology team, and approached every page, whether it was Drinks, Whiskey’s or Visit us, with the question ‘what is its purpose?’

At the same time, the Elsewhen team was immersed into the Jameson brand at the beginning of each workshop. For the Whiskey section of the site for instance, we learnt all there is to know about their different products. For the drinks section, we went on a cocktail making workshop — definitely our most creative one to date.

Workshop with Jameson stakeholders and product owners in Dublin

Gathering insights

For the purpose of the project we had two partner markets, the US and Kenya, chosen to represent two different ends of the spectrum. The US is already very well established, being Jameson’s biggest market, and Kenya is a newer market with an entirely different audience. We thought that if we could design one system that works for these two markets, it could then be rolled out for all the others.

To achieve this, we set up individual Skype sessions with users for each sprint. Everything was recorded and analysed in a way that made it easily shareable within the team and throughout the Jameson organisation. We used these insights to inform our framework:

  • Catch — Did our strategy work?
  • Connect — Did we show what was expected?
  • Convert — Did they show intent as we expected?

Based on this feedback, we iterated on the design and content strategy with every sprint. By the end, we had a version validated to the point where everyone at Elsewhen felt confident handing it over to the Jameson tech team, who were always present, and only one sprint behind us. The Catch, Connect, Convert framework also helps local brand managers to make the design and content strategy work for their local markets.

From day one, engaging these markets was the key to this project’s success.

Snapshop from a page on a report

5 months, 60 interviews, 10 reports and lots of fun

We spent five months together with the Jameson team, from the initial brief to the site being implemented in their first markets. Now, it’s being rolled out to all 40 of them.

As a result of this process, we are now seeing:

  • User increase by 50%, target was 20%
  • Increase in average session time
  • Average number of pages visited increase by 100%

We’re really pleased with the work we did with Jameson. The whole process also enforced our belief that you should have a clear product mindset from the outset, no matter what you’re building. Combining brand knowledge, market research and insight with the expertise on how to build products in a user-centric way, created a healthy dynamic in this project, and I’m sure it will in many others to come.

As for the karaoke… that’s another story.

Please check out the full case study on our website: https://www.elsewhen.co/work/jameson


Thoughts from the team at Elsewhen

Seb Sabouné

Written by

Product & Process Strategist @foundersfactory (http://www.foundersfactory.com)



Thoughts from the team at Elsewhen