5 reasons for a website redesign during a slow economy

Introduction: A slow economy shouldn’t slow you down

The bleak resource sector provides the perfect opportunity to take stock of your current website and any other ways you’re attracting investors digitally. What areas can you improve? How can you stand out from the crowd? During a slow economy, website redesigns are one of the best ways to attract those who are still looking to invest. Here are five reasons why a slow economy is the perfect time to refresh your website.


Redesign in a slow economy: Less attention calls for more strategy

A slump in your industry is also the most crucial time to streamline all the information on your website. Those in the IR profession who are still visiting your site need to be able to find what they want right away. If you don’t have a good content strategy, you’ll lose the audience that you do have. During the slow economy, take the time to assess every pathway on your website in terms of your company’s main goals. For example, is it more important for your website to feature a new mining project or get people downloading your latest quarterly report? When there’s less noise in the markets, it’s time to refine your message and get it cutting through.



Redesign in an slow economy: Position yourself as an industry leader

A slow economy means bad times for everyone, your competitors included. Be that phoenix from the ashes. Take this time to review your competitor’s websites and take stock of what you can do to perfect your own strategies. While your peers will reduce their marketing efforts and abandon any attempts for some digital upkeep, you’ll have the stage all to yourself. With a website redesign and refreshed brand in a slow economy, you’ll be able to transform your brand into one of the industry’s leaders: one that is strong enough to endure and evolve in tough times.



Redesign in a slow economy: Creating a great investor space now means better gain later

Your website’s main goal is to generate interest and investment, just like any other marketing material. And, just like any other marketing material, the greatest gains will be seen over time. A website redesign now will mean better investor strategy later. (Think easily downloadable presentations, IR materials, and a streamlined navigation). Once your website redesign is complete, you will begin to see your digital marketing efforts pay off. You want the momentum to build over time, so your redesigned website is generating the most interest RIGHT when things get hot again. 



Redesign in a slow economy: Fewer companies are looking to be innovative

As we said above: a slow economy is the perfect time to show everyone that your public company is strong enough to endure the tough times, and also evolve during them. The strategy for many companies will be to wait it out, and postpone all digital initiatives until things start picking back up. This is a golden opportunity for you. While your competitors are choosing to be silent, your efforts will be amplified. See what’s being done in terms of website design, and see what makes sense for your company. Is there a new way to feature your annual reports on your website? A more eye-catching way to display project maps, or feature the most recent news release? Figure that out now and have everything implemented by the time the markets pick back up. And side note: is your site still not a responsive one, meaning people can’t read it properly from their mobile phones or tablets? Time to get on that.



Redesign in a slow economy: Wait, and it's too late

We all know where the ‘I’ll take of it later’ mentality gets you. Not very far. If you’re thinking of waiting until the slow economy is a thing of the past before redesigning your website, you’ll be left behind. You’ll be the one attempting to send potential investors a Powerpoint presentation as an attachment in an email, while your competitor’s redesigned website allows investors to access any presentation easily right on their smartphone. Be that public company that gives investors new, user-friendly ways to access information on your website, and, better yet, be the first to do it.




The basics of website hosting


So you know your company is looking for a website redesign, but what’s the next step? And what in the world is website hosting? It’s easy to get lost in website jargon, from servers and IP addresses to domains and robots. You’ve heard of the term ‘website hosting’ before, but it sounds too confusing and reminds you more of the movie Alien than an element to know when beginning the website redesign process. Here are the basics of website hosting:


website hosting basics


What is website hosting?

Every website on the Internet is made up of a bunch of different computer files, including all its images, text, videos, etc. So, every website also needs a space where all of these files are kept. ‘Website hosting’ refers to that space where your website files are stored and maintained. Most often when you hear the term ‘website hosting’ it refers to a company that provides space on their servers (think super computers) to keep or “host” all your website’s files. Hosting your website on a server is important for a lot of reasons, which we’ll talk about below, but mainly because these servers have a crazy fast Internet connection. And that’s super important, especially if many people from all over the world are trying to access your website at once.

What is the difference between my website domain and website hosting?

This is where it can get confusing because it is possible to have one company register your domain name and another company host that website. In our research, we came across a house analogy that we like super well.

Think about it like this:

  1. Your website domain (www.blendermedia.com) is like the street address of your home where people go to find you.
  2. Website hosting is the house itself that stores all of your stuff (data and website files), and keeps things maintained.


website hosting basics


The benefits of professional website hosting

Most companies pay a professional website hosting company to take good care of their website files, or they find a web design agency that both creates their website and provides website hosting services. Regardless of the way you go about it, you want to make sure your website hosting is done right, aka professionally. Here’s why you want to hire somebody.

1. Backup power supply

If the lights go out, your site will go down, unless you’re covered by a professional website hosting company. Power supply doesn’t matter when you’ve got backup generators.

2. A super sweet Internet connection

As we mentioned earlier, if a lot of people are attempting to access your website at once, you’ll need a server with a fast enough Internet connection to withstand it. Website hosting companies provide space on their fast servers for your site.

3. Space

Depending on the package you choose from the company, there isn’t a limit to how many pages your site can have or number of photos or files you can store. This is important to remember if you want a website redesign with flashy videos and cutting edge animation. That takes up space somewhere!


Website Hosting Basics

4. Hardware maintenance

Get some peace of mind knowing that, if your website is hosted by professionals, that they’re taking care of all that metal and machinery that’s working to keep your website up and running.

5. Customer support

If our Alien reference above was a bit vague, we’ll repeat again: the technicalities behind website design are hard! There’s a lot of industry jargon, and if you don’t understand something about the way your website is stored, or are wondering about its capabilities, it’s nice to have a company to call.


Website Hosting Basics


8 steps to take before choosing a web design agency

Introduction: it’s all about the portfolio

There are hundreds of web design agencies out there, and each should have a portfolio of work for your perusal. Last month, we introduced you to 11 key questions to ask a web agency before hiring them. Now we’re digging deeper and giving you 8 steps to investigate on your own before choosing a web design agency. The most important aspect of any digital agency is their portfolio. Portfolio, portfolio, portfolio. Before making any decisions, take the time to really look at the work of the agency, or agencies, you’re considering.



8 steps to take before choosing a website agency: step 1

Test drive client websites

Most often, a web agency’s portfolio will include images and screenshots of the work they’ve produced for their clients. Visuals on portfolio pages are great, but don’t just rely on them. Go to each project’s individual website and take a look around. If the agency’s portfolio speaks about creating an interactive projects map for a mining client, don’t just take their word for it. Go to the URL for that mining company and test the map yourself. Clicking around websites will give you a good sense of the agency’s capabilities, from how they chose to lay out information to how pathways through the site work.



8 steps to take before choosing a website agency: step 2

Know which parts of a project the agency worked on

The best web design agency portfolio pages have a sorting function where users can see their levels of experience and participation in different projects. Knowing how much an agency contributed is important, as many digital agencies specialize in particular areas. If you are a smaller public company in need of branding materials, make sure the agency you’re looking at offers branding as a service.



8 steps to take before hiring a website agency

Make sure their portfolio includes experience in your industry

The way websites are laid out best varies exponentially depending on the industry. If you’re a mining company and looking at a portfolio full of tech companies and retail outlets, that agency may not be the best fit. Why? Well, staying with the mining company example, a mining website may need an easy to navigate projects section identifying the different exploration, development, and producing locations. Similarly, if you’re a public company, look at web design agencies that specialize in public company websites and know all the regulations.



8 steps to take before choosing a website agency: step 4

How do their projects treat the most important sections for your company?

What is the most important aspect for users to see when landing on your website? For most public companies, it’s usually the investors section. When investigating different web design agency portfolios, have an idea of the most important section of your future website, whether it’s the mission and vision statement section, the investor highlights page, or the email signup space. See how the agency lays out these areas. Are you satisfied them? If you’re really excited about creating an investor highlights page, but every project you look through doesn’t have that feature, that agency might not be the one for you.



8 steps to take before choosing a website agency: step 5

All their websites should have a favicon

Wondering what that word means? (Side note: it’s a great one to know for pub trivia). A favicon, or ‘shortcut icon’ is a file containing the small icons you see on the top left corner on a website tab, in your bookmarks, as your URL icon, etc. A web designer will create and upload a site’s favicon, and web browsers will then use the file. Does the website agency you’re considering make use of favicons in their client websites? It’s a small element, sure, but highlights professionalism and website smarts.



8 steps to take before choosing a website agency: step 6

Check to see how the agency’s projects handle email signups

If you’re a public company, this one is especially crucial. Most companies want an option somewhere on their website for users to input their email, name, etc. and receive items such as a weekly newsletter, latest company updates, or news releases. When looking at a web agency’s portfolio, see how they handle email signups. Go to one of the agency’s client sites and sign up. How did the process go? Did you receive an email right away? What did that email look like? How does the unsubscribe function work? Every public company knows that emailing investors and interested parties are both crucial and regulated. Make sure you’re choosing a web design agency who can keep up with your company’s email demands.



8 steps to take when choosing a website agency: step 7

Test all their websites on mobile and tablet

We can’t say it enough: responsive, responsive, responsive design! At this point, if your new website won’t have mobile and tablet capabilities, you’re not choosing the right agency. As you look through the agency’s portfolio, take out your phone and test each website they’ve created on mobile. How does the site function? Can you read everything clearly, and navigate to where you need to go?




Study the content strategy of previous projects

Often, one of the most important and time consuming aspects for a web design agency is deciding how information will be presented in an easy to navigate way. Even if you already have a website, a good website design agency will take a look at the flow of information and how content is presented and make suggestions for improvements. Click through the websites of previous projects and take note at how easy or hard it is to get around. Does it make sense where the website places the team bios, mission statement, projects, etc? Are drop-downs confusing, or do you understand exactly where you’re headed when you click a button?


Conclusion: take time to research and test drive

Choosing a website design agency shouldn’t only about which sites are prettiest. Once you’ve decided that your company needs a website redesign, do your homework and research what type of design company is the best for you. If you’re a mining or metals company, check out how the agency lays out their client projects pages. If you love your vision and mission statement, see how different agencies display them on their sites. The finished product will be worth the work, we promise!


The best mining and metals websites


This week, we’re kicking off the first article in a new series we’re bringing to the Blender blog where we spread the love and pick some of our favourite website designs from different industries. It seems fitting to begin this love fest on Valentine’s week. We’re not just looking at companies with the coolest animations or prettiest images. We want to see which public companies are using digital elements to their advantage in all aspects: annual reports, mobile-friendliness, social media, and more. We also want to show our clients and community alike what some of their peers are up to, and hopefully inspire them to think about getting a website redesign in 2016. Without further ado!


Dated like the rocks they’re digging up?

First up: Mining and metals! Companies in the resource industries have a reputation for being slow adopters when it comes to newer digital initiatives. That’s definitely not always the case, and we want to show some love for those companies blazing the trail in their industry. Here are seven mining companies who all others should take notes from when it comes to their website design and digital marketing. All our mining clients, listen up!


1. Anglo American

Fullscreen videos throughout the site that play effortlessly, and a unique ‘At a Glance’ video offers an alternative to the usual dry paragraphs in the About Us section. Each page of the site sticks to the same design and colour theme, from the homepage to the investors section, preventing any branding confusion or design ‘drop off’.

Our favourite part: Embedded Twitter boxes

While many mining sites encourage investors and website visitors to ‘Follow Us on Social’, Anglo American allows people to tweet to them directly on their website. An embedded Twitter area and a button labelled ‘Talk to Us’ really opens communication and personalizes the company. This embedded Twitter function continues throughout the website. Each page has a ‘Talk to Us’ button that, when clicked, opens a box so a user can tweet Anglo American right on the page they’re viewing.


Anglo American mining


2. Newmont Mining

The most important parts of the company are easily featured right on the homepage. From a Twitter Timeline to their Third Quarter Results, each element is part of an intuitive layout. Fullscreen slider images immerse a user in the company’s story.

Our favourite part: Featuring original content

It’s slightly unusual for a mining company to prominently feature their latest blog post or an educational video about gold right on their homepage, but Newmont Mining stepped outside the box, and we think it’s really working for them. Newmont has an entire separate website for their original content called ‘OurVoice’The blog is separated in the categories, ‘Performance’, ‘Environment’, ‘Community’, and ‘People’, and is updated almost daily.


Newmont mining


3. B2 Gold Corp

We’re very proud of the B2Gold project we completed and launched at the end of 2015 for a variety of reasons. The detailed CSR page with fullscreen imagery and personal stories really gives people an idea of how B2 Gold contributes to surrounding communities, and the homepage features the most important information for investors.

Our favourite part: Project Map 2.0

If there’s anything we’d want to feature, it’s the mining company’s interactive project map that’s unlike any other in the industry. Clicking upon each location zooms to give a profile about the country, from population to GDP. The map’s unique icons also explain the different development, exploration, and producing areas of the company.


B2 Gold project map


4. Kiewit

We’re in love with this homepage. Textured imagery gives the website a unique feel and, the images coupled with a bold yellow brand colour really sets Kiewit apart from other mining sites.

Our favourite part: Great use of icons

The navigation on this site is clean and intuitive, both on the top and the bottom. We love the icons across the middle of the page that direct users to different aspects of the site. Sweeeet.


Kiewit mining


5. Teck Resources

Teck Resources is a Canadian resource company that has nailed their website design. Sliding homepage banners offer quick links to their latest projects and investor numbers. The homepage’s interactive map also showcases the regions where Teck is focusing on copper, zinc, Steelmaking coal, and Energy.

Our favourite part: that mobile-friendless, though

While all these websites look great on a mobile phone or tablet, Teck Resources takes the cake. We’d argue the site almost looks better on a phone. Besides just the beautiful way the site looks on a phone, it’s also incredibly easy to use. Clicking one button at the bottom of the homepage allows a user to download Teck’s latest sustainability and annual reports.



Teck Resources


6. Glencore Mining

Glencore’s site is very successful in their use of colour. Oftentimes, companies with a multitude of different colours on their homepage can just look sloppy or generic, but Glencore uses many colours while still keeping a cohesive feel.

Our favourite part: Grid lookin’ good

We love a good homepage grid. Glencore’s use of a gird layout on their homepage works so well because each box features a bold tagline such as ‘Make a Difference’ and ‘Global Network’. There’s also a live ‘Share Price’ box on the homepage for investors to follow along without needed to click on the investor section.


Glencore Mining


7. NOVAGOLD Resources Inc. 

NOVAGOLD, a Canadian-based company, is one of our current favourite projects. Interactive icons keep audiences engaged in NOVAGOLD’s story, and big taglines on each slider of the homepage and inner pages easily direct users to where they want to go.

Our favourite part: investor section

When we were creating this section, we thought a lot about how we’d want a page to look and function if we were investing in a mining company. NOVAGOLD’s investor section is simple and straightforward, while still staying cohesive with the other, more ‘exciting’ pages. Anything a current or potential investor needs to learn about the company, from annual reports and share structures to FAQs and factsheets, is right on the page.


Novagold Invest in Us


Using testimonials in website design

Good words go a long way

Testimonials on websites aren’t only for the newest restaurant in your town or your AppleWatch. When used effectively in website design, they work well for every company. You want people to know about your happy clients, especially those willing to go the extra mile and recommend you.  Here are some companies who found unique ways to incorporate testimonials on their websites to market their product or service and enhance their company’s offering. Let them inspire you in your own website redesign!



1. Back up your numbers

Public company: Shopify

In big, bold type on Shopify’s online store page it says ‘Shopify powers over 200,00 businesses’. The numbers are impressive, and will probably make most investors look twice. But what really hits home are the distinct and carefully chosen customer testimonials underneath the big number. Short snippets of praise from the founder of Tattly, the owner of Packer Shoes, and a star on the ABC show Shark Tank offer three real world business examples from the 200,000. In one swoop Shopify succeeds in sounding grand and successful with their big number as well as intimate and personal with three real life stories. The reviews are short, but still make an impact.



Shopify customer testimonials



2. Enhance your Corporate Social Responsibility section 

Public company: TD Bank

Testimonials from real people and real communities are a great addition to a public company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) section. Why? Including first hand experiences of how your company has helped the community and environment is just good sense. In their CSR video gallery, TD Bank includes interviews and personal stories about how the bank’s social teams changed lives. The ‘After the Storm’ video features members of a community in Massachusetts after a fierce tornado. They speak about the volunteer experience and how thankful they were for TD Bank’s contributions.



TD Bank After the Storm



3. Show your product in action

Public company: Tesla

Tesla Motors has an entire video section on their website that brilliantly blends customer experiences with their own product demonstration videos. Our favourite example of this hybrid product demonstration/customer review is their ‘Ready for Take-Off’ teaser video, in which Paul Thomas, a Tesla Vehicle Engineering Manager, takes customers on a drive in order to showcase the new Model S takeoff speed. In the video, Thomas says “there’s two reactions you get from the customer, it’s either a scream, or a grunt, but it’s the moment of silence after they’ve realized just how quickly they’re going”. More true to testimonial form, the customer stories section just next to their product videos provide quotations from happy Tesla customers. But we’re really into this video hybrid method. Here’s another good customer video  from the  Google Self-Driving Car Project that shows all different people from small kids to senior citizens trying out the product.



Tesla customer video stories



4. Display your wide range of industry experience

Public company: Salesforce

Testimonial categorizing and sorting is a pretty ingenious way to #humblebrag about how many different companies you’ve worked with from different industries. Salesforce does a great job of this in their Customer Stories section. A website user can choose to look at testimonials from a wide range of industries, products, and company sizes. Below the sorting function are featured companies from retail, banking, healthcare, and education. This level of sorting won’t work for every public company, as many are much smaller and more industry specific. But testimonial categorizing is still a great technique to think about including. If your company focuses on 2-3 main industries, think of a successful story in each industry and separate each testimonial with phrases like ‘Success in mining’ ‘Success in biotech’, etc.



Salesforce category sorting



5. Show how ANYONE can benefit

Company: Codecademy

Okay, so these guys aren’t public, but we loved the layout of their ‘Customer Stories’ section so much that we’re including them anyway. Codecademy, an online interactive coding course, features over 20 different people from around the world as ‘learner stories’. Each story has their own service label that showcases the plethora of needs Codecademy covers. The testimonial page underlines how Codecademy isn’t only supposed to be for people who want a coding career. Stories range from a woman who wanted to study the human mind, to a man who wanted to exercise better, to a teen duo who coded their own calculator for fun. It doesn’t matter the age, dream, or experience level to begin Codecademy, and the testimonials are an easy-to-understand and fun way to display this message. 



Codecademy learners from around the world







11 questions to ask a website agency before hiring them


Does a fresh New Year equal a fresh new website redesign? If you’re looking to hire an agency to design and develop your website, you want to make sure you’re asking the right questions. What do their timelines look like? What do they specialize in? Have they gotten any awards and recognitions? Where are their case studies? We want you to be prepared when picking an agency to work with. Here are 11 important questions to ask a website agency.


1. Can you give me a break down of your process?

Do they like to start with a learn and discovery meeting where you make them aware of your goals, or do you provide input along the way? What will the project timeline look like? At what point will you (the company) need to be involved, and at what point does the agency take steps on their own?

Why this is key: If your timeline is short to begin with, or if you’re on a tight budget, be prepared with whatever the agency needs from you right when they ask for it. In our experience, timelines stall when we’re waiting a long time for site feedback, content, or approval from a client. Deeply understanding the agency’s process helps you align your own processes to theirs, leading to a better experience and smoother communication.


2. What does your team structure look like?

Are you dealing with a group of two or twenty? Who will be communicating with you on a day-to-day basis? Is there a project manager that oversees things, or will your company be dealing directly with the website designers and developers on the project? And who’s in charge?

Why this is key: A sign of an efficient agency is a good structure. Make sure you know who will be doing the most correspondence with your company. Try to also gauge the best you can how often they’ll get back to you, and how open they are to last minute emails and requests.


3. Do you specialize in any particular industry/subject matter, or are you experts in a certain space?

Where do they feel most at home? Do they love creating flashy websites for the best and brightest in tech, or are they Renaissance Men/Women who dip their toes in a bit of everything?

Why this is key: Each agency has their own style when it comes to websites, and often the layout, navigation, and key features vary based on what industry they prefer or work in the most. If they’re experts in designing websites for banks and love mobile banking apps, but your company sells refrigerators, it might not be the best fit. 


4. What core services do you offer?

Are they just website designers, or also website optimizers? Do I come up with my own strategy or can you tell me how the website is performing? What if I want a video?

Why this is key: Many agency websites boast pages and pages of services, but most almost always do one or two things the most, and best. Make sure you understand what exactly comes in the package deal if you sign on with them.


5. Is everything done in-house? Are there elements you outsource?

Is this agency a one-stop shop? Or do they employ some outside help when need be?

Why this is key: You should be aware at all times who will be working on your project. Many agencies have connections with other agencies and freelancers for certain services outside the normal scope of a project, and that’s fine. It’s just important to make sure the full project stays cohesive and you’re aware of the process.


6.What are some of the values your agency stands by?

What makes them tick? How did they get into website design? What are the three most important things that drive their work?

Why this is key: Whether through conference calls, by email, or out for coffee, you’ll most likely be dealing with these people a lot. It’s just good sense to get to know the people you’re working with. Understanding the agency’s core values or goals for the future will help you understand the direction they’ll take with your website.


7. Will my website be completely custom, or will you work off a pre-built theme?

How many unique pages will be designed? Is the site fully customized, partially customized, or are you fully working from a pre-existing theme?

Why this is key: Almost always, custom sites vs. sites working off a theme will be a large factor in the project budget. There are many websites out there masquerading as ‘fully custom’ when they’re actually not. Make sure you know what you’ll be paying for.


8. Have you received any recognition for your website design?

They may think their websites are the best on the internet, but has anyone else thought so? Are they proud enough of their work that they take the time to submit to different awards or design forums?

Why this is key:  Awards and accolades don’t only show that the agency knows their stuff, but also shows they are committed to pushing themselves and putting their work on the web for all to see. In our opinion, you want to hire an agency that stays hungry.


9. What are some case studies you can show me with similar websites to mine?

Have they come across a beast like yours before? What are concrete examples of ways they improved a company website? Can you see some before and afters?

Why this is key: Ask the agency to provide you with a few examples of clients they’ve worked with in the same vertical as you, how the process went, and, if they ran any digital marketing campaigns for them, what the results were like. **IMPORTANT**When looking through the agency’s portfolio, don’t forget to check for responsive design! Make sure their work looks great on a mobile phone and tablet. Even the most beautiful desktop site can be a mess on a smartphone. With the way the world’s moving (all mobile all the time), any agency worth it’s salt is a mobile-friendly one.


10. Do you stay with me after the website is launched?

After your new website is taken live, do they stick with you for monthly check-ins? Does it cost more to stay connected with them? Do they help you out post-launch or pull a design and dump?

Why this is key: Every agency has their own process, so make sure you know what the post-launch plan is. If the agency takes over everything about the redesign from setup to launch, how will you make any necessary updates or changes to the site? Do they transfer everything over to your company once the website is done? Also make sure you know what’s happening to the old website once your new one goes live for the masses.


11. Why should I choose you over any other website agency?

There are a thousand and a half digital and website design agencies out there. What makes this agency different?

Why this is key: Why should you choose this agency? It’s just like the ‘what sets you apart’ question at normal job interviews. Know their strengths, ask about their weaknesses, and know exactly what they plan to do to make your company shine.



Hey! You can ask us these questions anytime. Fill out a form here or email us at info@blendermedia.com and we’ll get back to you in no time.

5 public companies with fantastic digital annual reports


PDF and Powerpoint annual reports are becoming a relic of the past. In the new digital age, more and more public companies are transforming their annual reports into digital moments and, in doing so, capturing investors’ attention with interactivity, animation, and new social sharing functionalities.

Although fullscreen visuals and interactive elements are important pieces of digital annual reports (and prominent in our top 5 choices), that’s not all we’re focusing on. It is possible to be wayyyyy too visual in an annual report to the point of distraction. Sorry Dominos. You want to keep investors engaged with graphics and multimedia, but also don’t want to overwhelm them into thinking they’re watching the trailer for the next Avengers movie.

Here are examples of some companies doing it the right way.


1. BT Group

Why it’s great: you get a choice

BT group, a holding company owning British Telecommunications, is probably our favourite example of the lot. Why is it our number 1? Their 2015 annual report understands that while it’s important to be innovative and explore new digital territories, it’s also important to keep what’s familiar for that audience that’s just not there yet. That’s why BT Group’s 2015 annual report page offers users a choice: you can easily download the full report in the most recognized PDF format, or you can ‘view annual report online summary’ for a fully visual and interactive report.

The interactive annual report offers year financial highlights, company milestones, as well as a full timeline. For those viewing the visual highlights report who wish to get more into the details, a navigation bar at the top offers an easy download to the strategic and full report. The top navigation also features a prominent social media sharing space to encourage viewers to circulate the report on their social networks.

2. Home Depot

Why it’s great: super visual, super easy-to-use

The Home Depot 2014 annual report functions on its own separate website, homedepotar.com, so navigating through it is already intuitive for the user. Each piece of the report, from the letter to shareholders, to financial highlights, to board of directors, each gets its own design feel. The Associates section features an embedded ‘Road trip with the CEO’ video, as well as individual stories and pictures of store employees who make all the difference. Although Home Depot is big on personal stories, they also understand the main reason for this report: the numbers. As a user goes through each page of the site, bold orange statistics and numbers stay true to the annual report style.


3. L’Oreal

Why it’s great: it’s so ‘on brand’

Not many digital annual reports begin with a giant photo of actress Lupita Nyong’o, but L’Oreal is all about sticking to their brand and brand advocates. Although all the important performance statistics and financials are there, L’Oreal’s 2014 annual report stuns with bold colours and giant fullscreen images, and almost reads more like an online fashion magazine. While in some cases brand dumping everywhere can be overwhelming, L’Oreal does it with just the right amount of taste. Instead of the typical ‘Letter from the CEO’, L’Oreal’s digital annual report features an ‘Interview with Jean-Paul Agon’. Their worldwide performance map and key 2014 figures are featured in different shades of pink, purple, and brown (the same as their signature lip colours). Even when investors are studying L’Oreal’s net profit increase in a line graph, they’re doing so on one that’s pink.



4. Walmart

Why it’s great: you hear from everyone

Even though Walmart is a giant company, their 2014 digital annual report makes them feel small (in all the right ways). Three embedded videos within their Walmart U.S. section feature words from the CEO, words from everyday customers, and words from Walmart employees. With these videos, Walmart shows their shareholders that the company has a good handle on the three main pillars of what makes them function so well. Similar to the BT Group above, Walmart also offers this ‘2014 Enhanced Digital Annual Report’ as an option for their investors, along with the normal downloads.


5. General Electric

Why it’s great: interactivity in all the right places

General Electric is used to leading the pack when it comes to digital innovation, and their 2014 annual report is no exception. Seriously, it just about blew us out of the water. Fullscreen background video gives shareholders a visual taste of what the company does, and an intuitive side navigation bar allows users to easily see what point they’re on while reading. Our favourite part, however, is the subtle interactivity that adds so much to an annual report that you just don’t get with those static PDFs. For example, GE announces their 2014 executive team with a static picture of the whole group. However, hovering over each member offers up the name and bio of the individual. An interactive table allows the user to easily flip back and forth between the ‘Major Product Launches in 2014’. GE’s report showcases how the digital space creates so many new opportunities when it comes to mandated financial reporting. 



BONUS: Baby steps 

We get it. Some of these reports are maybe too big and too beautiful for your company to enact right now. We think it’s important to show you the best of the best so you can see what’s being done already (and not get left behind in 2016!). During our research, however, we found an example of a big, innovative company who might not be at the full digital experience yet when it comes to their annual reports, but are still changing the way these reports are presented all the same. NIKE’s 2015 annual report can still only be downloaded in PDF format, but the landing page to navigate through these reports is still striking and visual.

The 2015 financials are featured above a prominent slideshow of NIKE athletes from all over the world with the tagline, ‘NIKE is a growth company’. They might not be at the background video animation level, but they’ve still found a way to move past the black and white IR section with ‘Download PDF Here’ hyperlink.





How to survive the world’s worst gift

how to survive the world's worst gift

From: How to Survive the Holidays: the complete field guide

The Blender team has selected eight typical holiday horror scenarios and provided you with step-by-step solutions for survival and endurance during the crazy season that is the holidays. Read Scenario #1 below, or click the button above for the full online survival guide experience! (Looks and works great on desktop, tablet, and your phone!). 


The Situation:

It’s bound to happen at least once over the holidays. A really excited coworker/estranged family member/acquaintance gives you the most horrible gift you’ve ever received. Maybe it’s a giant t-shirt with their face on the front, maybe it’s a Stairmaster with a passive aggressive note, or maybe it’s a hand-me-down jacket that smells funny. How on earth do you muster appropriate class and grace?


How to Survive:

Step 1: Take a (brief!) moment to collect yourself and put your initial reaction aside.

surviving the world's worst gift


Step 2: State what the gift is out loud: ‘Oh look! A ____’. This gives you a moment to collect your thoughts and think what you’re going to say about it.

surviving the world's worst gift


Step 3: Compliment gift: **WARNING** Do not go overboard with a wave of compliments. Say one nice thing, even if it’s about the wrapping paper.


Step 4: Say thank you again and gently steer conversation away from yourself. “Who’s next to open?” “Are those grandma’s cookies I smell?” etc.


Step 5: Discard the gift. (or donate). Discreetly! If gift is homemade, hide somewhere out of the way unless the person who gave it to you is coming over. Then place it somewhere in the house.

surviving the world's worst gift


Words and phrases to avoid when receiving gift:

  1. What is it?
  2. Um.
  3. This is JUST what I wanted (this could lead to more similar gifts in future).
  4. Well isn’t this a winner!
  5. Any outdated phrases no one uses anymore that prove you’re forcing a replay (examples include Gee, thanks! golly, what a doozie…).

Words and phrases okay to use:

  1. So thoughtful!
  2. Thank you
  3. What a great colour!
  4. What a nice gesture.
  5. I can see you put a lot of thought into this.


Want more holiday survival goodness? Want to see all scenarios on a big beautiful website? You’re just a click away! (Button below). Remember, the site looks and works great on all devices, including your smartphone.



How to survive cheesy holiday photos

How to survive cheesy holiday photos

From: How to Survive the Holidays: the complete field guide

For our holiday gift this year, the Blender team has selected eight holiday horror scenarios and provided you with step-by-step solutions for survival and endurance during the crazy holiday season. Read Scenario #8 below, or click the button above for the full online survival guide experience! 


The Situation:


It’s time to gather around and take a cheesy family holiday photo. No one really wants to squish together on the couch and fake smile for 10 minutes, but the grandparents are insisting and you can’t let them down. The problem is you are an awkward human being.

Mad scientist look

How to Survive:

Hair: Check for flyaway hairs and stray pieces of food. If born with cowlick, pat that sucker down.

Eyebrows: Raise slightly to appear excited at prospect of taking photo. Not too much though or you will come off serial-killer-esque.

Eyes: Keep wide open and avoid excessive blinking, as this will lengthen duration of photo shoot.

Teeth: Are there leftover brussel sprouts wedged between your front teeth? No? Are you sure?

Shoulders: Pull back to create effect of standing up straight. Avoid hunching or risk the weird no-neck look.

Arms: Keep at sides. Resist temptation to swing or flail. Do not, under any circumstances, put arms around shoulders of surrounding family. Everyone is already uncomfortable.


Poses to avoid at all costs:


the duckface

The duck face

[duhk]-[feys] noun, singular

  1. A photographic pose trend, consisting of an exaggerated pouting expression in which the lips are thrust outwards, often with simultaneously sucked cheeks. Well known on profile pictures in social networks.
  2. May express sympathy, attractiveness, and friendliness.

This is not a bathroom mirror selfie. This is a cherished memory in the making.

the bluesteel


The ‘Blue Steel’

[bloo]-[steel] noun, singular

  1. Made famous by the 2001 movie Zoolander, “Blue Steel” is the signature modeling pose of male model Derek Zoolander.
  2. consists of pouted lips, intense gaze, often confused with looks ‘Le Tigre’ and ‘Ferarri’.

Even if you have won Male Model of the Year three years in a row, this is not the time for this pose.

the bunny-ears

Bunny ears

[buhn-ee]-[eers] noun, plural

  1. The act of putting two fingers up behind someone’s head while a picture is being taken to mimic rabbit ears.
  2. Known as one of the most ubiquitous pranks of all time.

T-Rex arms


Awkward T-Rex arms

[awk-werd]-[tee-reks]-[ahrms] noun, plural

  1. The act of lifting arm and barely resting around another’s shoulder in an effort to seem friendly but not overbearing.
  2. Commonly used between strangers or acquaintances in a photo opportunity against their will.

Keep. At. Your. Sides.



Like what you see? Want to see all the How to Survive the Holidays scenarios on a big, beautiful, interactive website? You bet you would. The button’s right below, and the site works great on your desktop, tablet, and phone. Try it!





How to Survive the Holidays: the complete field-guide

How to survive the holidays: the complete field-guide

It’s ok to get your Grinch on.

Let’s face it, the holidays are great, but you won’t be full of cheer 24/7. Especially if you’re the one entertaining your extended family (#inlawsandnochill). But that’s ok! Because our gift to you has come early this year, and we can’t wait to share it! Our gift? Survival. Introducing How to Survive the Holidays: the complete field-guide, an online experience created by Blender out of mostly love–and a little snark–for the holiday season. (It also looks and works great on a desktop, tablet, and mobile phone!).

This online holiday survival guide brings you through eight different scenarios that you’re bound to run into at some point over the few weeks you’re being festive. Whether it’s at home with snobby in-laws, or at work with awkward co-workers, we’re with you every step of the way to offer solutions and survival tips to get you through it. 

Check back here in the next few weeks as we pull out some of our best survival scenarios from the field-guide and walk you through them, step by step. See you on the blog next week for more holiday passive aggression (and genuine love!) and see you right now taking a look at the guide by clicking the button below.