Lithys 2016: Electronic Arts - Community Design of the Year

Lithys 2016: Electronic Arts - Community Design of the Year

small.pngCompany: Electronic Arts

Contact: Dana Baldwin, Community Program Manager

Community:  Answers HQ 

Lithy category: Community Design of the Year


The Worldwide Customer Experience (WWCE) organization provides support to customers across all the games that Electronic Arts (EA) publishes. The Social and Community team manages the Answers HQ Community and engages with players on social media channels. To provide the best customer experience, there for our players where they need us, when they need us. Social media and online communities are an integral part of our customer experience strategy and an important way that we support and engage with our players.


The AHQ online community is significant, with over 10.8M registered users and more than 277k new topics over the past year across five languages. In LSW, we monitor 75 social media channels with over 11.2M posts in the past year. Having an integrated approach to total community provides our team with a consistent experience that can be measured in LSI.


Community Goals

Answers HQ (AHQ) provides support to our customers with both player-to-player and official EA answers to game information, game play, and technical questions. AHQ support stretches across five languages and over 150 titles. With the AHQ Redesign launch in 2015, our team set five major project goals:

  • Improve global navigation, site search placement, and site structure to connect our customers with the information they need quickly and efficiently.
  • Introduce site theming for game-specific branding all the way down to the post level.
  • Establish a look and feel for site assets that fit within the overall EA brand.
  • Integrate iconography, rank icons, badges, and avatars that reinforce customer status and brand identification.
  • Expand a limited responsive feature set into a fully responsive site.


AHQ Site Elements:


EA Brand Identity


Answers HQ was the first full EA site to launch within the new EA corporate brand identity. By utilizing our established, EA pattern library and game-themed visual assets, AHQ is now part of a more cohesive experience for players arriving to the site from in-game support links, EA Help and other EA franchise sites.


Navigation and Search

Answers HQ grew from a single language Beta site into supporting five languages over a period of three years without any major design upgrades. There were several side effects of adding features on one at a time such as, an absence of language selection options, poor site navigation options, and a search box relegated to the header of the page.



     AHQ Home Page before site update – September 2015


With the site update, we created a global header that incorporates site navigation, language navigation, site login, account links, and search into every page of the site.  




AHQ Home Page after update – Current




Content Blocks and Promotional Spaces

On average, 95% of Answers HQ visitors come from search engines and referrals from non-EA sites. AHQ posts often outrank our own help articles in search results. Because of this, many AHQ users are unaware of help articles and paths to contact EA Advisors for issues that the community cannot solve. The updated AHQ site design utilizes the headers of all home category and board pages, and the right side of all site pages, to link our players to popular EA Help articles, top posts on AHQ, and the path to contact us. Our Content Services team works closely with our Community team to keep the content updated and relevant to current issues for each game and language.



Game-specific content placement



Game-specific help and promotional content blocks



Issue-based and promotional content blocks


Game theming

Before updating the site, AHQ had a single, fixed background for all pages. Adding a leaderboard to a page, changing the boards on the home page, and any updates outside of site-driven content and announcements required a developer to update site code and deploy changes during a maintenance window. We set out to increase the flexibility of page layouts and introduce game-specific imagery across all pages with the site redesign. Game backgrounds provide additional context for players that arrive on AHQ pages via search and help our game teams preserve their brand identity.



Franchise and game-level site imagery


Iconography and Bounty System

The AHQ site update introduced a new icon set for all posts. The icon set helps players navigate across types of posts, hot issues, and solved posts. We introduced an “EA Official” solution icon that alerts customers of solutions written by or approved by EA Community Managers. We also introduced a point value, or bounty, for unanswered posts based on the number of replies, me too count, XP (kudos) total, and age of the post. Players who provide an accepted solution to the post receive additional XP for the total bounty amount.



Post icons and icon legend




Every step of the AHQ Redesign involved both EA stakeholders and our community super users. We wanted to make sure we were designing and executing the project with both EA and player needs in mind. As we gathered internal requirements needed to support our business, we utilized ideas submitted via AHQ and surveys to prioritize features and design elements that the community wanted. Throughout the design phase of the project, we held review sessions with our team and our super users to refine the site mock ups and images. Prior to scheduling our launch, we granted super users full access to our staging environment. This allowed them to test out the new designs alongside our internal testing teams.  


In September, we rolled out the final site design in one large deploy. This allowed for site updates and configuration before our extremely busy fall and holiday launch schedule. In the immediate weeks following launch, we merged two large communities from other EA forum sites into AHQ.




In addition to bringing in two additional EA communities to our AHQ structure, the AHQ Redesign resulted in improvements year after year in multiple areas:

  • On-site searches increased 51%
  • XP (kudos) per post increased from .1 to 2.9
  • XP per topic increased from .5 to 9.2
  • Replies per topic increased 10%
  • Players have earned over 7 million badges for community activity



Game-themed badges


Rank-based badges


Achievement-based badges

1 Comment

This entry gets kudos from me because of the bounty system. Very clever. Well done.