Maxon makes powerful, yet approachable software solutions for content creators working in 2D and 3D design, motion graphics, visual effects, and all types of visualization. Founded in 1986, Maxon’s applications have been adopted by top studios, artists, designers, and scientists around the world.
Maxon engaged Foster Commerce to take their global website assets to the next level and provide a cutting-edge authoring workflow.
Foster Commerce innovated a new time-saving “dream tool” that allows content authors on the marketing team to launch content for new product releases easily and seamlessly.
Staying one step ahead of its users through innovation is central to Maxon's brand as a creative company. So when phenomenal growth exceeded its website's capacity, the Maxon team sought a strategic partner who could create alongside them and help them scale quickly.
In 2020 Maxon engaged Foster Commerce to work on Maxon.net. In addition to taking the site to the next level in performance, accessibility, and multi-lingual support, the Foster Commerce team provided a cutting-edge user experience for site admins. Specifically, Foster Commerce invented a new tool for publishing website content which streamlined the author experience (AX) and transformed product launches.
The power of collaboration and building trust
Before beginning work on Maxon.net, Foster Commerce had already established a trusting relationship eight years prior. In 2012 Paul Babb, Maxon's Chief Marketing Officer, hired Foster Commerce to help with its online learning center, Cineversity.com.
Soon after, Foster Commerce owner Stephen Callender introduced Paul to Craft CMS. Together they decided to use Maxon's 3dmotionshow.com website to test Craft as the CMS solution for all its properties.
Paul felt reassured by Stephen’s knowledge of Craft and his intuitive ability to think outside the box. The success of this proof-of-concept build strengthened their relationship and prompted the company to turn to Foster Commerce when they needed deep technical solutions for Maxon.net that would scale.
Navigating the challenge of quick growth
Even for well-oiled marketing teams, product launches, while exciting, are stressful and potentially chaotic milestones. Content marketers must put page reviews in front of decision-makers, iterate under tight deadlines, and make final decisions quickly.
With Maxon's growth came a rigorous marketing calendar supporting new software releases. As a result, teams required the freedom and control to write, design, review, and launch new pages seamlessly and easily.
While functional, Craft's default live preview feature was insufficient for Maxon marketers for several reasons.
The most important reason was that, as with other content management systems, Craft's live preview limits users to previewing only one page at a time. So while content authors could share a draft entry, executives couldn't easily see it in relation to other drafts or review entire portions of the site before new pages went live.
A typical solution might have been putting the draft content on a staging site, but this was quickly ruled out. Duplicating content entries, restrictive content freezes, and database migrations were barriers to marketers' ability to direct their internal workflow.
In response, the Foster Commerce team didn't take these problems at face value or resign themselves to an “it can’t be done” attitude. Instead, they asked questions to reveal long-lasting solutions.
To begin exploring possibilities, the Foster Commerce team asked the content authors and marketers about their ideal outcomes. In response, the marketing team provided a detailed list of preferred functionality and current hurdles, revealing the limitations of the existing live preview feature of the website.
Based on this feedback, Foster Commerce pitched an authoring workflow that they believed would alleviate stress for the marketing team: What if authors could enter hidden content once on the production site, share one link with executives to privately preview the drafts in relation to existing live content, and once approved, hit a button so it could all go live at once?
If implemented, this solution could be a game-changer, giving teams complete authority over the workflow and timeline of content reviews and product launches. They wouldn’t need to duplicate entries or rely upon Foster Commerce developers to move databases between staging and production.
Taking time for a discovery process gave Foster Commerce developers a clear vision of what success would look like. Once they got the go-ahead, the Foster Commerce team began a tear-down process. Next, they iterated the desired outcome, pushing the limits of Craft to get there.
Thinking through edge cases and building the prototype
As possible solutions emerged, the team began thinking through edge cases. For example, they wanted to ensure that Maxon team members couldn't deploy draft content too early or accidentally.
They also wanted to ensure that executives would be able to see and click through new pages within the context of the entire site during a launch walk-through.
Finally, the team decided that a robust user interface that fully empowered the marketing team to understand and manage the process would be central to its success.
With these things in mind, the Foster Commerce developers created the first functional prototype of a draft site preview tool and gave it to Maxon team members to experience.
The team was able to add content, test-drive functionality, and give feedback about what worked and what didn't. Eventually, a prototype that met workflow requirements came into focus and became the final product.
Rolling out minimally viable solutions gave the Foster Commerce team the freedom to iterate without Maxon’s having to commit to a large, costly project. It also allowed Maxon to influence the design to be unique to its needs throughout development.
The draft site preview solution has given the marketing team what Paul Babb describes as a “dream tool.”
With it in place, Maxon executives can review draft product launch pages within the entire site as though they were live, just as the customer would see them.
In addition, the marketing team doesn't have to post content twice to achieve critical design reviews or rely on an outside vendor to get them through the launch process.
And with literally one click, they can publish multiple approved pages simultaneously.
The marketing team reports that because they have more time and control, they have lowered stress. They also report fewer maintenance issues.
When asked what makes Foster Commerce stand out as a team, Paul has this to say:
Since working with Foster Commerce, Maxon has realized its goal to have a thoughtful strategic partner who continues to support the company’s growth. The Foster Commerce team remains an active, responsive collaborator, always looking to bring more to the table.