Springer Nature

Bringing the global academic publishers 36 extensive product offerings into one simple, modern platform.

The challenge

Organise 36 differing product offerings from 6 different sub-brands that are found on separate websites, with different processes and flows, and don't have one overarching heirarchy. The problem has lead to a disjointed customer journey and lacking interproduct sales.

Project background

  • Springer Nature are a global academic publishing house with over 3000 journals covering different scientific fields
  • They advance discovery by elevating important research to the wider community through various avenues
  • Research Solutions is an arm of Springer Nature that has an array of products to help authors get from research to publishing their papers, and beyond

Defining the project approach

The initial plan proposed by the Springer Nature team was to update one of their bigger service websites (Springer Nature Author Services) first with updated flows and branding. We would then test how the changes affected this product and tweak if necessary (while keeping in mind this was the simple base implementation). Once we were satisfied with the results we would replicate the changes and updated branding across the other 35 products.

After hosting some research sessions with the internal Springer Nature team I noticed a few major flaws with the initial plan:

  • The wider product websites don't tie together and this plan doesn't solve that
  • Current sites all have different processes and technologies in place, so replicating the same solution across the board wouldn't work
  • Testing would only be relevant to one specific audience as the products generally serve specific customer segments
  • The branding update would need to push sideways to spread to the other websites, making it a hard to introduce to all audiences

So I defined an alternative approach. My suggestion was to create a new platform that ties all of these differing products and services into one central hub. We could then gradually phase out the separate disjointed product websites and centralise all of the offerings into one simple place. This solves the problems mentioned before:

  • Create a central location for multiple products and websites
  • Introducing a new platform does not have tecnology or process limitations, and allows us to merge products when they are ready to be merged
  • Testing would be relevant to all audiences as they all come through one place
  • Introduce the brand update from the top level so it can trickle down rather than push out

Research and structuring

I started the process by trying to understanding the users, their pain points, and what we could solve with this project. Unfortunately, I was not given direct access to users for data privacy reasons (because I was a freelancer and not directly employed by Springer Nature). As an alternative, I opted to pick the brains of the people overseeing the products as they should know their key users inside and out.

With the teams help, I crafted eight user personas to help guide me when working on the product. I wanted these to be really detailed and look from different viewpoints to try and cover the lack of direct user contact.

After understanding who was using the products, I wanted to collate and organising a master list of the products themselves, so I could research what their purposes were as well as how they functioned.

The main outcome of this research was a database containing a master list with all of the different products, who they served, what brand owned them, etc. I then broke these down into different categories to see if I could understand a method of grouping them together for easier searchability.

Based on the user profiles I came up with a tiered categorisation approach that funnels users down the road that suits them best. The funnel opens up with three different approaches; user goals (eg. publishing), user occupations (eg. Researcher) and service types (eg. promotion).

Figuring out content flows

After deciding on how I would like to structure the platform I wanted to tackle the content structure and key flows.

One of the major points of focus was on the cart system and checkout flows. Now, it's pretty normal for an eCommerce platform to focus a lot of attention here but due to this being a central hub for many different products that come in varying complexities, it needed to be smooth sailing for all use cases. One interesting issue was that a lot of their products can be customised, heavily customised, so this needed to be accounted for.

Platform design

Modern, clear, approachable, but not too far away from the current branding - this was my brief for the design portion of the platform. Branding isn't my strongest skill so I consulted with 10 Creative for reviews and guidance on this side of things.

The main theme I went for here was 'Organisms under the microscope' which is why you see the organic shapes in the background and the glass effect panels above, providing a sense of increased scale. This was mixed with the library of sharp, clean toned imagery of actual people in real work scenarios to achieve the goal of the initial briefing.