Launch: an online brochure builder for arvato

We worked with arvato to design and build an online tool allowing colleagues to produce customisable brochures via a simple and easy-to-use interface.


arvato, a subsidary of the Bertelsmann group, are one of the world's leading business process outsourcing companies, with around 70,000 employees across 40 countries. They work across a huge number of sectors, while offering an equal amount of services to their clients.

The challenge

Telling their story to clients, prospects or potential employees becomes problematic when, due to the number of sectors and services involved, a one-size-fits-all approach to sales and marketing brochures doesn't work.

The arvato UK & Ireland marketing team understood this and so along with their design team, came up with a solution.

'Pick & Mix' brochures

Concise, standalone inserts were designed and produced introducing all the various sectors arvato work in, the services they offer, case studies detailing how they work, and opinion pieces further demonstrating their experience and expertise.

Colleagues can choose specific inserts that when grouped together in a purposely designed folder tell compelling stories as if they'd been specially commissioned. They refer to these as their "Pick & Mix" brochures.

PDF inserts designed by Track & Kern

Taking this one stage further, arvato had the idea that this process could be made a whole lot simpler, quicker and effective if there was a way to create customisable, digital versions of these brochures that could be easily shared via email. Stock of all the various printed inserts could be minimised, and the time that the process actually took could be vastly reduced.

This was where we came in. arvato's design team could create modified PDF versions of all the inserts, but they needed a digital team to first validate the idea, and then to design and build the web application.

Developing relationships as well as websites

Beyond the challenges and technicalities of delivering on the requirements of the brief, we also need to build the trust of a new client that had come to us after a frustrating experience with a previous development team.

Our approach

After a brief kickoff workshop, design and development began in parallel. We set to work producing some low-fidelity prototypes of key screens and navigation, while also exploring the feasibility of the required features and technical aspects of the project.

Building trust through small, incremental steps

After the first week of the project we had enough shared understanding and confidence in what we were building to set up the content management system (CMS) and introduce it to the client. This allowed them to begin to produce the content and familiarise themselves with the system.

Communication throughout the project was via weekly update messages in Basecamp, backed up by Skype calls during the week as required. We believe that delivering small but frequest updates builds the trust required to produce exceptional results.

Basecamp organises all of our project communications together in a single place

Ensuring buy-in from users

It was just as important to us to build a trusted relationship with the end-users of the application. Introducing yet another system for users to learn can cause resistance, regardless of how good a job you do selling the benefits.

A collection of screens from the application's user dashboard

Employees of large organisations such as arvato are used to having to rely on, and wrestle with, behemoth software applications such as Microsoft Sharepoint. We made it clear from the start that this new tool was going to empower users, rather than frustrate or restrict them.

We made users feel like designers. We enabled them to do something they never thought they’d be able to do. And we made it feel less like work.

The brochure builder interface

The results

Together with long-time collaborator, Phil Swan, we launched in just four weeks and arvato were blown away by the whole process.

"Thank you again for all yours and Phil’s hard work on this. I’m really happy with the result and we’re already starting to see some really positive feedback from the business (and they are not easy to please!)"

Sam Grey, Communications Director, arvato UK & Ireland

Feedback from all areas of the business has been positive, with specific comments on how well it works given the diversity of arvato, and how easy it was to produce great results. These were exactly the problems we were designing for.

Demonstration of the brochure builder in action

Use of the "Pick & Mix" web application is limited to invited arvato employees, but if you're interested in seeing or hearing more about this project please get in touch and we'd be happy to give you a closer demonstration.

You might also be interested in our post describing why we chose Craft CMS for this project.