C-Ville Weekly is Charlottesville, Virginia’s source for arts and culture news. The paper is a cornerstone of its community, publishing top-notch content with an eclectic voice. For this local institution, Vibethink forged a fresh digital business strategy, centered on outstanding web design. C-Ville’s new online platform lives at the intersection of the paper’s business needs and the needs of its readers, fostering vibrant relationships and superlative journalism. Explore the new C-Ville.com, or read further about our process here.
Our team knew that C-Ville Weekly needed more than an updated look. The paper needed a brand new digital strategy. Using many different “wireframes,” which are like blueprints for the web, we worked with the paper to construct an online presence from the ground up. Our tireless attention to user experience has resulted in a digital approach that will continue to work for C-Ville and will excite its readers for years to come.
Design For Life
At Vibethink, behavioral research informs aesthetics. For example, knowing that readability would be a priority for this website, we studied column width, text size and font to maximize user comfort. We also made sure that the richness of C-Ville’s weekly content would be apparent on a daily basis by presenting their articles in a grid format, which draws readers’ eyes to individual stories, countering the natural human tendency to skim over listed content.
Tearing Down Walls
The old C-Ville.com hid a lot of the paper’s best assets. That website had divisions between different kinds of content, and lacked information about the newspaper’s awesome reporters. We tore down the walls that were separating restaurant reviews, real estate coverage, and regular news, and we brought writer bios and pictures forward to highlight C-Ville’s personality.
A Social C-Ville
As renowned digital thinker Paul Adams puts it, a website without good social is like a house that isn’t hooked up to the power grid. We made sharing articles easy and intuitive so that C-Ville can convert its readers’ excitement into expanded distribution. We also re-engineered C-Ville’s comment pane to make navigation between reading and responding more natural. The new layout empowers reporters and editors to extend and deepen the life of their stories by getting involved in conversation with their readers.
Vibethink believes that great design looks best when it generates a great ROI. Vibethink’s strategy zeroed in on C-Ville’s revenue source: advertisements. We integrated their new website with Google DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP), the advance standard for targeted advertising across the web, and even went a step further by customizing DFP to reflect C-Ville’s readers. Finally, we trained the newspaper’s sales team in DFP, so that they could make the most of their new technology.
Online to Offline
At Vibethink, we integrate our digital work with our client’s overall business. At its heart, C-Ville is still an ink and paper publication, so their new website makes it easier for them to print newspapers. Specifically, the back-end of C-Ville.com is calibrated to serve editors, so that they can easily schedule stories and polish drafts in collaboration with their reporters. Layout editors are particularly happy about C-Ville’s new, custom online calendar, which automatically exports to an Adobe print template, shaving hours from their day.
From the Editor’s Desk
“What really sold us on [Vibethink's] team was that they shared our ideas about what makes a good local media site, and they cared about our paper’s role in the community. We wanted to make something that was easy to use (for us and for you)…and we wanted to create a platform that we could constantly modify and improve as things changed.” – Giles Morris, C-Ville Editor
Thanks, Giles. We liked working with you too.
Billboard Number 1
Easy Star All-Stars are a reggae band with a large following who record tribute albums based on some of the great popular music of the last fifty years. Their latest album was a cover of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and we helped them plan the whole project from inception to its release at #1 on the Billboard Reggae charts. Check out the Thrillah website or click this panel for more information about the campaign.
Starting with Fans
Easy Star’s fans love to guess which album the band will cover next. Vibethink’s market research found eager speculation across chatrooms, fan pages, and forums. So we built a webpage that turned that conversation into a fun competition – a game that allowed fans to choose Easy Star’s next cover album from among twenty-five classic records . Each fan who voted got a free three-track EP, plus another EP if he or she shared it to Facebook.
Over the course of a month, we eliminated one album from the list each day based on votes, raising the stakes and motivating fans to check in often. Meanwhile, each of the 25 possible albums – from AC/DC to Ziggy Stardust – integrated with Spotify’s Play Button, so that fans could stream each classic option in its entirety.
And the Crowd Goes Wild
Our contest generated over five thousand Facebook “likes” for Easy Star and added six thousand new email addresses to the band’s mailing list. Impressed by our success, Spotify highlighted our campaign as one of the best implementations of their technology in 2012.
Finally, MJ won the day in our contest, and while Easy Star went to work recording Thrillah , a tribute to Jackson’s landmark 1982 LP, Vibethink created a presale landing page for the album. The landing page promoted multiple presale packages, and it also spotlighted the band’s single, “Billy Jean,” with a share-to-stream feature that earned over four thousand likes on the its first day live.
EP Hits #1 on iTunes
With the help of Vibethink’s ground breaking contest and Facebook strategy, Easy Star’s Billie Jean EP debuted at number one on the iTunes Reggae Chart.
Thrillah Hits #1 on Billboard
By the time Easy Star’s full-length album dropped, the Thrillah landing page had been shared over twelve thousand times and had captured nearly eight thousand email addresses. The fans were ready, and Thrillah debuted at number one on the Billboard Reggae Albums Chart.
Sons of Bill Hit Billboard Charts
Sons of Bill are an alt-country five-piece from Charlottesville, VA. With their latest album, Sirens, the band had finally captured their ideal sound, and they were ready to convert listeners into fans on a whole new level. Through an array of web design and marketing strategies, Vibethink brought this great regional band to a national stage – the Billboard Top 200. Check out our web design work for them at SonsofBill.com, or keep reading to hear about our viral and local marketing strategies.
Step 1: Buzz + Presale
Our first order of business was to forge a strategy with our clients. That strategy began with a landing page that connected the band to its fans. This first step towards an online presence gathered buzz by offering the single “Santa Ana Winds” for free streaming, and it earned revenue for the band by providing a clear and appealing presale channel for fans to buy the album.
Step 2: A New Website
After the landing page, Vibethink built a website for Sons of Bill that met and exceeded all of their expectations. The website is big and user-friendly, with clearly marked categories for all of the band’s current and future work. It consistently and attractively communicates our clients’ brand. And it integrates fully with social networks and music sharing platforms.
Step 3: Viral Marketing
Having constructed a strong web platform, Vibethink built a custom widget on the site that allows visitors to unlock tracks from Sirens for streaming download by “liking” Sons of Bill on Facebook. This strategy amplified word of mouth and rewarded fans who love the band.
Step 4: Leveraging Local
In the days leading up to the Sirens release, Sons of Bill held a series of free concerts in their home state of Virginia, thanking their long-standing fans. Through digital and traditional marketing, we spread the word about these shows to every fan who could attend them. Then, to cement the value of those performances, our graphics team created download cards that allowed fans to relive the concerts online with free streaming audio and, while they were on the site, to pre-order Sirens.
With the help of Vibethink’s web design, marketing ingenuity and sheer persistence, Sons of Bill broke into the Billboard Charts for the first time in their career. They reached 183 on the Billboard Top 200 and hit an all-time high in their social media activity and reach.
A Website That Captures an Experience
The Festy Experience is a music, sustainability and outdoor sports weekend in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Going into its third year, The Festy asked Vibethink to create a website that would draw crowds and explain the many bands, workshops and activities it has on offer for visitors. Check out our work at TheFesty.com, or read on to learn more about this project.
Results on a Deadline
With the presale of tickets about to begin, Vibethink designers up-cycled graphics from Festies past into a user-friendly landing page that clearly delineated The Festy’s many ticket options.
Strong Web Architecture
Once the landing page was live, Vibethink crafted an entirely new website for The Festy. Starting with wireframes, which are drafts of websites, we built an online presence centered upon user experience. TheFesty.com clearly identifies the event’s many elements. It also gathers purchase and visitor information for our clients. This website will stand the test of time.
After careful branding deliberation with our clients, the Vibethink graphics team drew fresh, authentic images expressing The Festy’s values and personality. Then we worked those images into their website to give the festival a playful, engaging interface with fans and visitors.
Having built a user-friendly and attractively branded platform for our clients, Vibethink led an intense digital and print campaign to carry their message forward. We partnered with local businesses who shared our clients’ target demographics and we ran a successful, constantly evolving Facebook campaign.
Vibethink is a experience design and new marketing agency. We’re a team of strategists, designers, and technologists all focused on creating great work for our clients. Our staff is a blend of of digital-age veterans and smart, dynamic up-and-comers. We work in small, focused teams and are highly collaborative with our clients.
Call us at: 434 984 0804
OR email us at: info[at]vibethink.com
110 Old Preston Ave, Charlottesville, VA 22902