LTI Trucking approached TDK Technologies with a need to develop a new website in order to meet some of their strategic goals for the company. New driver applications was at the top of the list, but shortly behind was getting the word out that their Logistics division was rapidly growing.
Over the road trucking is an all American industry focused on values and family.
Understanding the expectation that people had when they visited LTI’s website was the first order of business. There were three key visitors that the site needed to focus on: drivers, logistics customers, and transportation customers. Our team at TDK started by focusing on the experience needs of each type of visitor so that we could make sure the experience was the best it could be. LTI was very passionate about sending the right message about their business to drivers and customers. They knew that in their industry over the road trucking is an all American tradition.
Communication is critical to the success of any project where there is an out-sourced company doing the work. Our philosophy at TDK is to involve the client at every step of the project. That doesn’t just mean status updates or approval requests, but ensuring that the client understands everything that’s going on. There’s a lot of jargon that get’s thrown around in web and software development. Responsive design, Lean UX, Agile Methodologies are among a few. All of that can be overwhelming for a client who just needs to get a new website, not become a web developer.
With LTI communication was as good as it gets. Gathering all the requirements is one of the most critical areas where this matters most. Our job is to listen in this phase of the project. Understanding a client’s needs and user need’s is about understanding them as a person and what their real goals are. That is exactly what LTI brought to the table for every conversation our team had with them. Because LTI cares so much about their drivers and customers, they know them at a very personal level. This relates directly to being able to give them what they need from the website.
Establishing a consistent look and feel to the site was the initial design objective. LTI wanted every visitor of the site to feel like they were on the right page no matter where they landed. Every page had to have a sense of belonging so that the visitor knew exactly where to go to get the information they were looking for. This meant developing a pool of components that could be used throughout the site. In this phase our designers used quick sketching with the client to produce a design vision quickly.
When it comes to design and development at TDK we use an approach that is very lean. Our designers and developers physically sit next to each other and work closely to ensure that the end result is the best it can be. For website development, this means getting to a working website as quickly as possible. We’ve learned it’s very difficult to interact with a mockup or wireframe, but the experience is immensely better when you have an actual website to review, especially in the design phase. We work through this prototyping phase very quickly. Sometimes there can be several iterations for a single component. Prototyping does two things for us; it tells us what doesn’t work and what needs work.
Before too long we had all of the components identified and a fully functioning website that LTI was able to start showing to other team members to gather feedback. One of the showcase items of the new site was the mobile first driver application. Forms are easy to create on websites. In fact they’re one of the easiest things to create. But, getting people to decide to fill them out can be difficult. LTI wanted to be straightforward in their message to potential drivers. They are a company founded and run on family values. Their pay is fair, their staff is friendly, and they care about people.
When we created the driver pages we focused on each area that LTI’s recruiting staff told us were the most important things to new drivers. We created pages dedicated to culture, day-to-day responsibilities, real driver testimonials, and compensation. We created an additional page for the application to sit on so that anyone could apply whenever they wanted. We decided that it was better to put the application at the bottom of each of the driver’s pages, which improved the user experience greatly. At any point, on any driver’s page, a visitor could decide to apply now.
One of our favorite things that can happen on a project is when all the moving parts are working together in harmony and then ideas start to happen that didn’t exist before. That was just the case when it came to putting an e-signature on the driver application. Hiring a new driver for LTI requires both an application and a background check. LTI was accepting applications on their existing site and then paying for transportation for new applicants to come to St. Louis, without doing a background check. This was because a signature and acceptance is needed to do the background check, something that, previously could only being captured once the driver was in LTI’s office. If a driver applicant failed a background check, then all that effort was wasted.
Through the advancements in HTML and CSS we were able to create an HTML5 canvas that a driver could sign on the website. We then incorporated the background check acknowledgment form and signature into the application on the website. This not only saves LTI money on transporting disqualified drivers to St. Louis, but also allows their recruiting staff to focus their time and attention only on qualified drivers.
Creating components, developing prototypes, even producing finalized code, is a large part of completing a website rewrite. But, it’s all for naught if one key question isn’t answered.
If we create a brand new website how will anyone know?
Even more importantly, how would we ensure more people would know about the new site than did before? Just like our designers and developers working closely together, our digital marketing team is just as close. Our collaboration philosophy isn’t just with clients; every member of our team is involved in the project throughout its life. A holistic approach to product creation, in our minds, is the best approach for success. All of our team members are a part of the discussion about content from the beginning. Where do we put what content? What types of content are there? How do we word statements so they are most effective? These and many more questions are what our digital marketing staff brings to the discussion when it comes to the design of the site. The quality content that gets created through this approach is what improves rankings, and sends the right message to search engines. We wanted to not only let the Internet know there was a new site, we also wanted all of the search engines to know that LTI was absolutely the best result to give to visitors looking for the right information.
In just eight weeks, we were able to create a completely new website for LTI; one that was viewable from any screen size, especially mobile, and was engaging to all of LTI’s identified visitors. In addition, we created a blogging engine and re-designed their company store to also be mobile accessible.
We’ve worked on some fun projects at TDK, and have helped businesses achieve some pretty substantial results, but LTI had the most impressive statistics in 2014. We knew that giving drivers a mobile application to fill out was going to make a difference. In the first two months of the site launch, their applications doubled over what they collected for all of 2013. Yes, you read that right. The website met their entire previous year of applications in just two months and has continued to maintain that pace since the site launched in July of 2014.
What we learned
Re-use Reduce Recycle
- Lead Designer -
Our design vision for this website was to design and develop re-usable content components to be used throughout the entire site. Not only did it allow us to create a consistent experience for the user, but also allowed us to change up pages as the client changed their desires. Moving from one component to another was sometimes a 5-minute change in the Content Management System. Additionally, it was something the client content managers learned very quickly how to do themselves.
Individuals, Interactions, and Working Software
- Project Manager -
All three of these are core tenants of the Agile Manifesto and known by many software developers all over the world. Our product owner at LTI was very engaged throughout the project and had a great relationship with our team. Eight weeks is super fast for a website to be rewritten start to finish. We learned that the more we lean on these three tenants, the faster we can get to a finished product.
The gallery below shows some of the final screens of the website. To really get a sense of how the site behaves check it out live at http://ltitrucking.com