Company: Siemens PLM Software
Contact: Susan Alig (Community Administrator)
Community: Siemens PLM Community
Lithy category: Community Design of the Year
Siemens PLM Software, a business unit of the Siemens Digital Factory Division, is a leading global provider of product lifecycle management (PLM) and manufacturing operations management (MOM) software, systems and services with over nine million licensed seats and more than 77,000 customers worldwide. Headquartered in Plano, Texas, Siemens PLM Software works collaboratively with its customers to provide industry software solutions that help companies everywhere achieve a sustainable competitive advantage by making real the innovations that matter.
Our community goals
Just as we inspire our customers to realize innovation, we at Siemens PLM Software must do the same. Within the marketing organization, our job is to facilitate better conversations, and our customers and prospects are choosing to have more of these conversations online. To meet our customers where they are and make a difference for our business, one of the areas we are focusing on is an improved user experience across all of our digital properties through user-focused interactions and a visually engaging design. The first of our properties to achieve this is our Community.
February 25, 2016 marked three years since Siemens PLM Software launched its first online, public community. To celebrate the occasion, the users of the Siemens PLM Community received the first set of changes for a radically improved user experience, which features a new visual design language based on Siemens AG standards.
This new user experience (UX) was greatly needed update to the Community. The UX offers several key benefits to our customers. First, it makes user-generated content the focal point. This is important in the Community because customers want to easily and quickly find information in their area of interest; information created by customers, for customers. To improve usability, the design allows for faster navigation in the most trafficked areas where customers spend the majority of their time. This unique category navigation allows them to navigate freely between interaction styles without ever leaving their “home.”
Our unique community design
Design Space- Our top complaint from users was why didn’t we use the entire real estate on the screen. In our previous design, there is a vast amount of unused white space. Our target audience accesses our site 95 percent from desktop because they are typically designers and engineers sitting at their desk with two or more monitors. The old site used less than 25 percent of the total real estate for a typical designer. Because we launched Phase 1 of our redesign one month from the date of this submission, we are currently working on Phase 2, which includes adjusting the design to mobile and tablet devices where we can take full advantage of Lithium Responsive.
Stylization – Using the Responsive Lithium template required heavy customization with our CSS. By focusing our efforts on styling the OOB components, we are able to offer the right information to our users in the way they want it presented. We concentrated our efforts on four page types – Community Homepage, Category Page, Forum and Forum Article page. Tapping our Community Manager I&II training, we focused on building these pages for the “90%.” Our more active users appreciate the threaded forum replies as this directly relates to the “History Tree” in our software, tying together elements from our product to community.
Navigation – Staying in your “home” was another user request. Many of our users will spend a significant amount of time in one category. Creating a navigational element so a user doesn’t need to use the “back button” was key. The result? Category navigation sits below the “hero” image and provides a black indicator of where the user is on the site.
How we executed our community design
With a new set of design guidelines, we needed a partner capable of interpreting the design language and applying that to the Lithium platform, all while keeping the user’s experience at the forefront. To do this we partnered with Lithium Professional Services. Who better to know the platform than the creators! Together we interpreted the design guidelines, created and validated our vision, and then set off on a six-month adventure to bring the new design to life. A complete set of wireframes and mockups were created for this project, utilizing as many out-of-the-box components as possible while also allowing us the ability to customize certain areas that called for it.
Our “super user” @SeanCresswell (90,000 messages read, 208,000 minutes online) said it best, “Wow, that certainly is a revamped looking site! A fantastic step forward though...congrats to all involved in this monster effort.”
This before and after picture of the homepage tells a compelling story about the massive undertaking.
Metrics are an important piece of our complex puzzle in evaluating the success of our community. Here’s a small snapshot of how well our community performed since the launch of the new design on March 25, 2016.
Let’s start by giving you a glimpse into the growth of our Community:
Our Community has steadily grown in the three years existence. In FY2015 (Oct-Sept) we saw a 229% growth in HPV. We are on track to exceed that percentage again for FY16.
In the 32 days after the launch of the new design, we’ve seen the following increases versus our monthly averages:
44% increase in Unique Visitors**
40% increase in Kudos Given
31% increase in Registrations
23% increase in Posts
** Our Unique Visitors for FY16 to-date just surpassed the FY15 total
For us, these are simply numbers; a way to ensure our changes, enhancements and decisions make a positive impact on the users who participate in our community day-in and day-out. It’s the engagement of our users whose use our site to help them do their job better and demonstrate an “ingenuity for life” that makes the real difference for us.
User @Stefan_Pendl hit the proverbial nail on the head: “Thanks to you and your team for bringing the community to the next level of usefulness.”
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