Allergan

Agency: MMT Digital

Following successful website redevelopments for global pharmaceutical company Actavis, MMT Digital were faced with a new challenge when the brand acquired Allergan and chose to adopt the Allergan brand name. It was imperative that the two corporate websites were brought under one brand prior to the acquisition being announced. MMT Digital discuss the project

Brief

MMT Digital had been working with Actavis for several months on the redevelopment of the Actavis corporate and country websites, introducing a contemporary look and feel to the sites and a modern platform to provide the ability for growth, when news broke of their acquisition of Allergan. A formal announcement on the company rebranding was due to be made on 15 June. That same day, the newly-formed executive team would ring the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange, a prestigious event that was broadcast across the globe by a multitude of media outlets.

This formal announcement would introduce the world to the new Allergan and its new brand. With just over a month before the announcement, MMT Digital, in partnership with the teams at Actavis and Designit (a creative agency based in Denmark), had to rebrand the websites and bolster the platform in preparation for the inevitable surge in traffic following the announcement. To make it all the more challenging the entire rebrand had to be performed in complete secrecy and without impacting the existing sites so that it was revealed to the world for the first time on the morning of the event.

Strategy

Due to the newly set challenging deadline, the conversation between MMT Digital, Actavis and Designit started immediately in order to ensure that this momentous event in the company’s history was complimented by a truly outstanding website. All three parties had been working together for over a year, forming one single team working towards a common goal. The relationships forged over that time enabled us to efficiently construct a strategy, tackling three particular challenges—delivering the new look and feel, merging separate sets of content and providing a stable and performant platform.

An early decision was made to keep as much of the structure of the Actavis websites as possible. MMT Digital knew that the corporate site would be rebranded in time for the announcement but the specific country sites would be part of the next phase of work that was to be delivered afterwards.

Flexibility and a ‘simplest thing first’ mantra became cornerstones of MMT Digital’s approach to the project. Releasing to market in the quickest time possible is what MMT Digital are passionate about. This philosophy allows their clients to get a return on investment in rapid time and then further iterations on the solution can be made based on real user behaviour/data.

In addition, MMT Digital needed to keep in mind the 15 June. The announcement would trigger large volumes of traffic and it was imperative that the site performed at the highest level. Key members of the MMT Digital team devoted time to ensure that all best practice techniques were in place so there was never any danger of the site failing.

Execution

With the restrictions and safeguards already in place, the team were able to dive into development almost immediately. Kentico was decided on as the CMS platform. Branding guidelines were shared with the team and style guides were quickly constructed, eschewing the need for a lengthy design phase.

High levels of quality and attention to detail had been established in the initial development when working on the Actavis websites and this standard of delivery was maintained throughout the subsequent rebranding. In addition, MMT Digital needed to consider the reality that they would be maintaining two separate brands for a period of time.

Whilst maintaining two stylesheets was possible, it introduced concerns over future maintenance and adoption so the team instead directed their efforts to extending the stylesheets (constructed using SASS) to accommodate the original (Actavis) and new (Allergan) brands. This filtered through to the templates and widgets used throughout the sites. Smart extensions were introduced into these objects to not only handle the extended styles but also to accommodate additional functionality, whilst still providing the flexibility and interaction expected by the site editors.

Throughout this process MMT Digital worked in close collaboration with the Designit and Actavis teams, quickly delivering new templates and features which could be assessed by all concerned and then tweaked as necessary. This swift approach enabled us to quickly identify areas of concern and formulate solutions.

With development in full flow, key members of the delivery team turned their attention to the important matters of site performance and SEO.

Bringing two major global websites together is a challenging proposition with regards to SEO and it was vital that we maintained the current search rankings. Working closely with Actavis, MMT Digital carefully mapped out the available content and identified mappings to be introduced. These mappings were implemented into the new structure alongside updated metadata and content.

Additional optimisations were introduced to bolster performance while we delved deeper into the caching functionality supplied by the CMS to strengthen the platform. Additional monitoring was introduced in advance of the announcement alongside automated confidence tests designed to continually assess the performance and functionality of the website (whilst also triggering the cache to continually improve performance).

Result

MMT Digital and Allergan were delighted with the execution and outcome of the project. The site was up and live before the announcement on Wall Street and easily handled the visitors and page views on the day of the announcement.

Rich Madigan, Senior Project Manager at MMT Digital, was really pleased with how the partnership has developed with Allergan: “Working with Allergan has been a very rewarding and enjoyable experience. The relationship has flourished since we started working with them when they were Actavis and we look forward to continuing to help them maximise their online and digital operations as Allergan”.

This is an excellent example of what can be achieved when a strong relationship is at the core of a project. There are few tasks more challenging in web development than that of merging two global websites into one and implementing multiple localised sites across the world, but MMT Digital delivered. MMT’s technical expertise, transparent delivery methods and clear communication were key and Allergan can now boast one of the most aesthetically pleasing and highest performing websites within the pharmaceutical industry.