Despite being a revenue-generating agency for the Commonwealth of Virginia, the pressure of state-government budget constraints is a constant reality for the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (Virginia ABC). The Virginia ABC’s technical infrastructure and digital presence had become painfully outdated, keeping the agency from operating efficiently, delivering high-end experiences to customers, and effectively communicating the myriad services it provides. In particular, the agency’s website, www.abc.virginia.gov, was a difficult-to-navigate haystack lacking visual appeal.
Like the agency itself, the Virginia ABC website must balance very different and, at times, conflicting purposes and messaging, including retail, education, and enforcement. Moreover, unique operational models across these and other organizational units require appropriately tailored tools and processes for the management of web content that can be consumed via desktop and mobile devices.
Lastly, Virginia ABC had been charged by the governor with growing revenue by 25 percent in order to return more profits to the Commonwealth and ease other budget challenges. This ambitious goal demanded creativity and the exploration of new business opportunities. In response, Virginia ABC planned its first foray into customer-facing e-commerce.
Lacking in-house expertise in the design or implementation of a modern web property on a robust content management platform, Virginia ABC turned to CapTech to lead its first major
step in an agency-wide modernization effort. Together, Virginia ABC and CapTech charted a course toward improved communication with diverse stakeholders, increased revenue for the Commonwealth’s operating budget, and more engaged and effective customer experiences.
CapTech’s Customer Experience team met with dozens of Virginia ABC employees, customers and industry partners to develop a comprehensive understanding of user needs.
Analysis of the existing website’s content informed the development of a revised information architecture. Brand and store experience interviews steered the visual design process. Detailed user-interface design included formal usability validation via a clickable prototype. CapTech also supported the development of a content migration and creation plan and produced a technical design based on its recommended web content management platform (Sitecore).
CapTech’s technical delivery team installed and configured Sitecore in a third-party hosting environment. In collaboration with Virginia ABC’s IT team, CapTech integrated the new website with existing systems to enable user functions such as selection of a preferred store, inventory lookup and online ordering for in-store pickup.
Content management workflows were defined and enabled to minimize dependency on IT for Web content publishing while ensuring sufficient governance. Extensive content management training was delivered based on participants’ specific roles. Finally, CapTech developed, tested, and deployed a fully responsive site that is equally usable and visually appealing across the entire spectrum of web-enabled devices.
CapTech’s ability to deliver the entire range of services required for a major website modernization – from initial user research and design through deployment and training – enabled seamless transitions among project phases and yielded a more complete and high-quality solution for Virginia ABC, whose new website launched in March 2015.
Tools and Methodologies
- RESTful Web Services
- Visual Studio
- Hedgehog’s Team Development for Sitecore
- Rational Team Concert
- Successfully delivered a new website featuring streamlined navigation, a modern look and feel, and a custom-developed e-commerce module for the ordering of select products.
- Dramatically improved the user experience for mobile web visitors based on implementation of a fully responsive design that adapts based on the user’s device.
- Increased user success rate on key tasks by approximately 10% via a more intuitive design.
- Reduced users’ average duration for key tasks by approximately 33% via a more intuitive design.
- Provided advanced product inventory lookup functionality that communicates real-time inventory in a selected store and nearby stores.
- Enabled more efficient web site management via a robust content management platform that reduces production lead times as well as dependency on IT while improving governance and audit capabilities.