Services
  • Business Design
  • /
  • Product Design
  • /
  • User Research
  • Brand Voice Development
  • Content Management System (CMS) Development
  • Content Strategy
  • Front-end Development
  • Mobile Strategy
  • Persona Development
  • Platform Development
  • Responsive Design
  • User Experience Design
  • UX/UI Design
  • Web App Development

Chobani Home is an enterprise social platform built for the unique needs of the world’s number one Greek yogurt.

As Chobani’s digital agency of record, we provided solutions for a wide variety of business challenges. In 2012, we embarked on our biggest challenge yet: helping the brand maintain its culture of friendliness and transparency as it quickly grew from a startup to nearly 3,000 employees.

A brand is defined by the sum of its interactions, and that includes interactions for customers and employees. This meant the project had functional and cultural goals—the product needed to feel as unique as the yogurt itself. Off-the-shelf software intended to be everything to everyone would not work, so we infused the brand’s culture into every element of Chobani Home.

Just a few years ago, Chobani was a small yogurt startup. Back in those days, founder Hamdi Ulukaya would often spend time at the upstate New York factory, working on the floor and offering words of inspiration to his small but dedicated team. It was easy—his office was right there. Since then, the company has grown into a billion-dollar organization with employees on three continents. They were proud to see the world enjoying their yogurt, but they missed the informal, open communication of the old days.

Chobani_Home_001

We knew how much Hamdi wanted to avoid the trap of bland, uninspiring communication many growing companies fall into. We also know a thing or two about maintaining connections in the workplace, so Chobani asked us for help.

Chobani Home was truly a cross-department project, including leaders from Chobani’s IT, HR, marketing and communications teams.

Home allows the entire workforce—from factory to board room—to collaborate and share essential information about the company.

We began by isolating three specific goals. First, we needed to give Chobani leadership an intimate, immediate way to communicate—with the whole company or a targeted few. Second, we needed to provide all Chobani employees with a personal tool for exploring their rapidly evolving company. Finally, we aimed to cut down on email and encourage real-time social communication across the entire workforce. The output was a one-of-a-kind platform allowing the entire workforce—from factory to board room—to connect, collaborate and share immediate, essential information about the company.

Here’s how we did it.

User research: Learn to behave like your audience

Eighty percent of Chobani employees don’t work at a desk. They’re on their feet in the factory, or in trucks transporting yogurt around the country, or in the lab developing new products and flavors. These were our users and we needed to learn everything about them; we couldn’t just rely on corner office “stakeholder interviews.”

We embedded a research team at the plant in Norwich, NY and distributed over 1,600 paper surveys to production teams around the world.

We embedded a research team at the plant in Norwich, NY and distributed over 1,600 physical surveys to production teams around the world. We reviewed onboarding materials and interviewed dozens of workers to map employee experiences. We were thrilled to learn how remarkably tech-savvy the Chobani workforce is. Most of them have smartphones and use social media every day. This directly influenced our decision to create a cutting-edge mobile platform.

Chobani_Home_Team_In_Plant Chobani_Home_Work_Session
Design workflow: Review prototypes, not comps

We know a cycle of flat design reviews can be a disaster in terms of both effectiveness and timing. For this project it made sense to forgo the comps and build an interactive prototype right out of the gate. Instead of time-consuming meetings and PSD revisions, we made constant updates to the prototype, and everyone felt more confident making decisions based on something they could use and not just observe. Our friends at Chobani had something they could test out on their own time and show to colleagues for validation.

For each cycle, we went from whiteboard to prototype in about three days.

Before touching any screens, we started by creating an interaction system and UI style guide. This gave an abstract sense of what the experience would feel like, including visual elements like colors, buttons and typography, as well as interaction patterns and design principles. Every decision was intentional, and having these elements established up front allowed us to quickly translate a new idea from sketch to prototype.

Chobani_Home_002

To determine the information architecture and content specifications, we held several rapid sketching sessions with the designers and front-end and back-end developers in the room together. This required a high level of trust between client and agency, but we kept the team small and moved fast. For each cycle, we went from whiteboard to prototype in about three days.

Product design: Focus on perfecting a small set of core features

Thanks to our extensive research and collaborative workflow, we quickly identified which features would satisfy both business needs and user needs. We built the product to prioritize these elements, but left enough flexibility for future growth and iteration. Below, we’ve highlighted a few of the most significant features.

Customize the news feed

Not everyone needs (or wants) to see every single company update. We designed the news feed so leadership could choose how to target their posts: to the whole company or just a specific department or location. This protects employees’ time by only displaying relevant posts. At the same time, it encourages them to explore and discover what’s going on in other Chobani locations or departments—but only when they want to.

Chobani_Home_News
Search for anything

Chobani Home’s robust search functionality makes it easy for users find anything they’re looking for, from a colleague’s email address to a news post from last month.  Anyone can find anyone else in the company, along with their photo, location and contact info (and favorite Chobani flavor, of course).

Chobani_Home_Search1
Publish with ease

To create the publishing interface, we worked with several Chobani departments to determine what categorization labels would be most useful. Many were simple improvements on communication methods Chobani was already using (like paper newsletters and email blasts). We drew inspiration from behaviors on Tumblr, one of the simplest publishing platforms available. We built a fully customized publishing system so the team at Chobani doesn’t need to use a complicated back-end CMS to post a message. All they need to do is sign in and click the “New Post” button.

Chobani_Publishing_Desktop_Mobile
Employee relationship map: Create the anti-org-chart

One of our big goals was finding a way to show relationships between individuals and departments, even if those people weren’t in the same office and may have never met. Sounds like an org chart, right? We knew that wouldn’t work, because Chobani doesn’t have a traditional siloed organizational structure. It’s an organic ecosystem with various interconnected teams and processes. So we created an organization map and rolled it out to the entire company. It makes every employee feel like a human with a face, a location and a role in Chobani’s larger story.

Web application development: Build for modern browsers to encourage a tech-forward culture

Our research proved the need to take a mobile-first development approach (duh). To get more specific, we had a conversation with our Chobani partners and confidently agreed we didn’t want to build for archaic browsers. Chobani is a technology-forward company, and we decided it would be better to encourage employees to update old browsers rather than support IE 8 or below.

100% of the content is accessible and elegant from anywhere.

As a result, Chobani Home delivers a fast, flawless and contemporary experience. Mobile users don’t see a bare-bones version of the desktop: 100% of the content is accessible and elegant from anywhere. This was crucial to delivering our promise of clear, comprehensive, and transparent communication to all Chobani employees.

Data security: Keep information safe and current

Chobani has employees in ten locations and four countries. International regulations of collecting and classifying employee data aren’t easy, but we knew it was essential that all employees enjoy the same user experience. We worked with Chobani’s IT department to protect sensitive information while still providing an easily-updated CMS that will safely scale with Chobani’s growing global workforce. Once a day the system checks for new hires and deactivated accounts. Whenever a new employee joins the company, they are immediately given a profile and the ability to see what’s going on—whether it’s around the corner or in Amsterdam. Chobani uses a Microsoft tech stack, so we built a seamless integration between Chobani Home, ADP and the rest of their existing services.

Chobani_Home_Statistics

Our friends Williams Forrest deserve a special ‘thank you.’ So far we’ve collaborated on Chobani Home, OneHP and BMW Genius, and we couldn’t ask for a better back-end development partner.

Get In Touch
Rob Thorsen EVP of Client Services

What's Next?

Spotify

Inventing user-first advertising

HP

Connecting a social workforce