George Washington’s Mount Vernon has been increasing its video production efforts to offer additional value to its visitors and members. Besides pre-recorded videos, Mount Vernon now offers live events and other captivating online experiences as well as a membership area with additional members-only content. However, their video content management system reached its peak of usability and they turned to Five Jars as their long-term development partner to re-design the way content is managed and presented to visitors and members.
George Washington’s Mount Vernon has attracted more than 85 million guests since opening its doors back in 1860. During the pandemic, Mount Vernon increased its video production to offer a more digital experience to its visitors and members. Moreover, their current system did neither allow any live events being shared through the existing CMS nor foster a time-efficient process of adding new video content to the portal. Additionally, the earlier created integration of TNEW by our developers was not able to be fully utilized due to limitations of the existing CMS. Five Jars has been the digital expert of choice for Mount Vernon for the last three years, which is why we were tasked once again to deliver a new and innovative solution to them.
A platform unable to cope with the required changes
Mount Vernon recently switched from Vimeo to YouTube to store their content and make the videos available to visitors and members. In order to show video content on their website, a new video must be uploaded to YouTube and then manually added to their BigTree CMS. This workflow increases the costs associated with managing the existing and upcoming videos on the portal as various processes are required to be done multiple times. Furthermore, BigTree CMS was not able to handle live events, which represented a significant challenge for Mount Vernon’s digital strategy.
API for automated website publication
Instead of publishing videos manually on the website, Mount Vernon pivoted to publishing video content on YouTube only. Five Jars confirmed the long-term usability of using YouTube as a video content system by taking advantage of the YouTube Data API to automate their internal processes. Prior to creating the required interface, our developers analysed the existing environment and how the video content is presented to users. After an extensive UI/UX review, our team created a clean and flexible data architecture to foster Mount Vernon’s future growth.
Our developers integrated the YouTube Data API into the BigTree CMS by building a new video portal functionality with Symfony 5 which enables Mount Vernon to solely manage videos from their YouTube account. Managing the entire video portal on YouTube creates great workflow improvements for Mount Vernon as the risk for manual entry errors is limited and the time required to manage and adapt video content is reduced. Further, new video content formats such as live events or workshops can be easily added to the portfolio of events. Overall, Mount Vernon saves over 200 hours per year at current levels of new video content production.
Our integration saves 200 hours of manual labor per year
Our solution increased the user engagement and, therefore, the visitor numbers
The provided solution reduced the data entry errors by 90%
A new website navigation
Our insights from the discovery phase were used to update and rebuild the existing UI/UX design of the website. Our update mainly focused on the presentation of the video content and orientated itself on the YouTube designs. The video portal feels, therefore, familiar to users and expected functionalities are easily discoverable.
The main structure of the video portal consists of the video portal homepage, the playlist page and individual video page. Discover the functionality of these three main pages below.
Video Portal Homepage
Mount Vernon desired a modern and authentic video portal homepage which underlined their increased focus on online experience delivery. Our UI/UX experts proposed various design drafts which, after a few adaptations, were implemented accordingly. Eventually, Mount Vernon opted for their preference of a homepage consisting of various playlists and the opportunity to see a list of
- upcoming and past live events
- newly added videos
- popular videos
Each playlist in YouTube is fully customizable regarding the order of the videos and what videos are included in the playlist itself. This flexibility allows Mount Vernon to dynamically adapt current playlists or create new ones. Playlists represent various topics such as popular videos, or themed playlists such as “Christmas” or “Summer”-based playlists.
More precisely, our developers created the YouTube integration via API data pull including the same thumbnail and meta data design already used on YouTube. This enables us to offer a common and already known user experience to Mount Vernon’s visitors. Further, the data pull eliminates the manual adding and adapting process in BigTree CMS as everything is imported from YouTube directly. Last but not least, this data pull enables Mount Vernon to take full advantage of the functionalities of the earlier implemented TNEW software solution.
page per visitor
Our redesign increased the pages per user by 12%
created and managed at launch
Mount Vernon offers member-only content. Such videos are unlisted on YouTube and trigger the login request from the platform. If a member is logged-in, the video begins as usual with the auto-play modus.
If the user is not a member and cannot access the video itself, the thumbnail of the video will be shown as well as information on how to become a member. If a user decides to sign up, they will be redirected to the membership page and, after the successful sign up, redirected back to the very video their journey originated from.
The unique video URLs provided by our solution are similar to the ones YouTube generates. In fact, our unique URLs enable Mount Vernon to link to a specific timestamp within a video on their website. This is especially for marketing purposes of great value.
An innovative video portal redesign
Mount Vernon shifted to a more comprehensive digital experience offering and required a general redesign of their infrastructure and interface. Our developers carried out a thorough discovery phase identifying the major shortcomings of the process flows prior to our collaboration.
Through the initial discovery phase, our developers created a detailed backlog and kicked-off with a structured time and budget plan. The final solution not only reduced the time needed to manage the video portal by over 200 hours per year but also updated the UI/UX of the video portal to a more sophisticated online web platform worthy of Mount Vernon.
The main challenge throughout this collaboration has been the legacy of the various systems and their respective transitions. However, by relying on process optimization and process mapping methodologies, our team managed to gain the quintessence of all workflows and redesign the integration accordingly.
available at launch
in first three months
in the first three months
Five Jars x Mount Vernon
Five Jars understands itself as a long-term partner of Mount Vernon. Throughout the project, we have created and maintained a list of potential future updates and improvements identified from both our developers and Mount Vernon’s in-house team. One of the next potential features we will be able to deliver for Mount Vernon is the option of providing each user the opportunity to watch up to 3 member-only videos per month without becoming a member.
We have been collaborating for three years with Mount Vernon already
Our developers delivered 7+ projects already
Did you transition from one software solution to another as well and recognize that processes are not going as smooth as possible? Then call us for a discovery call and we’ll elaborate on how to enhance your digital workflow.
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