Genex (now Meredith Xcelerated) has been Acura's digital agency from the very beginning. The last major redesign of the primary dotcom in which I was involved was in 2006, and we set out to redefine what a car site could be. Given the Acura brand's focus on advanced technology, as well as their desire to be perceived as a more luxurious automobile, we had a fantastic opportunity to push the design envelope.
The result was what today would no doubt be a tablet app. Big, cinematic imagery throughout, with a minimized frame and navigation. Gone were the pages of long-form prose in fashion at the time. The content was broken into short, specific chunks. To make browsing easy, created a cascading nav system, much like the Apple OS, that allowed for clear access to all these chunks. Users could "gather" the bits of information they found useful into a saved profile, and every chunk linked to related content if available.
The technical challenge was huge. We wanted to create as rich an experience as possible, but that would require Flash, the bane of SEO. The lead developers, Jon Ruppel and Brian Drake, created an elegant solution...an entire "ghost" framework written in html, seen only by the search engines. As a result, every "page" in this huge Flash site could be indexed and bookmarked. We showed it Google and they loved it!
Another benefit of creating the site in Flash was our ability to fully integrate v2.0 of the fantastic Acura Interactive Showroom. The Showroom too would be a tablet app today. Users could explore the features of each vehicle, opening and closing doors, changing interiors and manipulating all manner of controls.
From this core brand platform, sprung a host of unique microsites dedicated to individual vehicles as they were launched. Once in market, these microsites were seamlessly embedded in the dotcom as experiential modules.
Lead designers: Chip McCarthy Wilson Yin Kelly Kliebe Eric Wegerbauer