Sainsbury’s Living Archive
Sainsbury’s had 145 years of history that was stashed in boxes in an old warehouse on London’s Docklands. They asked Beyond to transform their physical archive of collateral into a compelling and immersive online experience that helped showcase their illustrious heritage.
Key areas for consideration were:
• Content strategy
• Content management & publishing
• User experience/ responsiveness
One of the biggest challenges was creating a site that users would want to visit time and again. Beyond had to produce a highly detailed and focussed content strategy that was heavily informed by the collateral available from the physical archive. Beyond also had to consider the journey that users took from first landing on the site to perusing the myriad content pieces on display.
Beyond proposed the creation of ‘Sainsbury’s Living Archive’ – an online home to showcase Sainsbury’s heritage with an emphasis on creating a fantastic user experience that would capture people’s imagination and could be continually populated with archive content, year after year.
Content strategy - Beyond’s content strategy involved outlining a set of key content themes such as Christmas, general heritage and Easter, which would form the basis of a collection of related content pieces. We created a content theme calendar which listed potential future content themes based on events/occasions that would be relevant to Sainsbury’s at that time, for example the centenary of the First World War and Sainsbury’s 145th birthday. This allowed us to have a clear vision for how the Sainsbury’s Living Archive would develop over time based on the physical archive collateral that was available to us.
These content pieces would incorporate relevant archive collateral, displayed in an innovative and highly interactive way. Each content piece was designed to be as visual as possible making the best use of some stunning archive imagery.
Content management & Publishing - Beyond created a custom CMS using Django that included a number of bespoke features that could be added to over time. An initial round of content was produced by Beyond meaning the Sainsbury’s Living Archive wasn’t empty during launch.
The CMS allows for content to be continually added by both Beyond and the client.
Interactivity - Beyond used a multitude of visual techniques such as parallax scrolling, bespoke slideshows, before-and-after sliders, full width imagery and dynamic graphs to make the experience totally immersive and to encourage people to revisit the Sainsbury’s Living Archive time and again and to share images socially. 3D Transforms were used to enhance the quality of animations across the site and take advantage of modern browsers and hardware. Care was taken to implement fallbacks and degrade gracefully when features are not supported.
A further innovation saw the creation of our ‘asset viewer’. Due to the irregular sizes and inconsistent resolutions of much of the archive collateral, it was a challenge to present each asset in a consistent yet visual appealing way. Images could be used but often required significant zooming, sometimes to the detriment of wider context. To combat this, we created an asset viewer that allowed users to click into each image to see a scaled down, full version, complete with description.
Legacy - The design of the Sainsbury’s Living Archive means it can be continually updated with new themes and collections allowing us to not only showcase Sainsbury’s past, but to explore their present and future with limitless amounts of creativity on an on-going basis.
User experience/ responsiveness - Beyond wanted to make the user experience as clean as possible without diminishing the visual potential that so many stunning archive images provided. Each content piece was accessible through a navigation panel that listed them under their appropriate collection heading. Every story is then aggregated to form the homepage of the site in a customisable layout. This allows content managers to continually rejig the most prominent content on the site to reflect a particular promotional push.
Time constraints meant that the site was initially launched for desktop only, however the next phase of development will make the site fully responsive across mobile and tablet devices. The site was developed mobile first and is fully fluid responsive to ensure it matches any screenwidth or device without any impact to the content, allowing us to ensure an identical experience for all users.
The site has only relatively recently launched but has been greatly received by both the client and the public, receiving praise, in particular for the user experience and immersiveness of content.