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Exceptional digital experiences

A clever combination of creativity and code has seen NV Interactive craft compelling immersive digital experiences for 20-plus years. Here, Client Director Sonia Taylor and Operations Director Jon Whitehead explain how the team is using strategic user experience (UX) insights to deliver beyond expectations.

Who is NV Interactive? 

NV is a design-led digital agency based in New Zealand and also working globally. We use a combination of creativity and intelligence to craft meaningful digital experiences to solve our client’s problems and connect them to their users. Our work spans more than two decades, and includes digital branding and user-experience design through to end-to-end web and app development. Each project is different, but our approach is well-proven – and the results speak for themselves.

What do you think makes for a well-crafted digital experience? 

Our focus on user-centred design plays a central role in everything we do. It starts with gaining a deep understanding of what users are looking for and need, to ensure we meet or exceed these expectations. In part, this relies on our ability to navigate the often complex and cloudy waters of competing, divergent and conflicting stakeholder requirements and user needs, and the skills required to successfully do this aren’t purely technical but human: logic, diplomacy, creativity, intelligence, empathy. This encompasses design and delivery, and a great deal of care is taken to deliver a robust digital platform that’s a genuine pleasure to use, delivers true value to both users and businesses, and sympathetically reflects and extends our clients’ brands.

How does business strategy fit into better digital/UX design? 

It’s the heart of everything. History has proven time and again that businesses that invest in design deliver better outcomes to their users and the bottom line. We have a well-established process that starts with discovery and user experience, then moves on to design, build and iterative improvement.

We often find working through the discovery process upfront helps us and our clients clearly articulate the factors and challenges that ultimately contribute to the success of a project. 

In the past few years, we’ve helped deliver strategic outcomes for organisations as diverse as New Zealand Cricket, White Cross, Worksafe, David Reid Homes, BBC, ESPN, Time Inc and Microsoft, among many others. One project that really showcases our blend of creativity and intelligence is our recent reimagining of ChristchurchNZ’s digital platforms. 

Sonia Taylor

NV was founded in Christchurch (and has since grown to include offices in Auckland and Wellington). We’re proud to work on the world stage from this resilient and incredibly vibrant city, and even prouder to have the chance to help reinvent how our hometown engages with the world. ChristchurchNZ is tasked with developing and promoting the city and the region, through igniting bold ambition and excitement in people, connecting change-makers, driving economic activity and attracting visitors to O¯tautahi Christchurch and the greater Canterbury region. The reimagined ChristchurchNZ.com website is the primary channel for delivering these goals.

How did you come to understand the various ChristchurchNZ audiences and their needs? 

On one level, this project was about consolidating more than 10 separate digital channels into a single cohesive presence catering to all aspects of ChristchurchNZ’s diverse audiences. This site needed to serve broader business objectives, to ensure that O¯ tautahi Christchurch and Canterbury weren’t seen only as a tourism destination but also as a dynamic hub that attracts and provides opportunities for lifestyle, entrepreneurial development, tertiary education and conference hosting, as well as acknowledging and celebrating its role as both the Antarctic Gateway and the cinematic backdrop to many successful films.

On a deeper level, it was about igniting bold ambition for the city and region through embracing a narrative of exploration – a central tenet of ChristchurchNZ’s mission. This framed our strategic and creative approach to delivering a future-focused, foundational digital platform.

It was critical that the site present a consistent and intuitive navigation scheme that caters to the diverse audience groups and their specific needs. A comprehensive series of multi-stakeholder workshops were undertaken, with a focus on mapping, organising, structuring and labelling content in an effective, sustainable way, to make sure ChristchurchNZ was able to easily and autonomously manage content going forward.

How important is UX in telling a brand story?

A successful site must capture a feeling, inspire an action or spark a thought, and this was very much at the heart of the brief we received from ChristchurchNZ. At NV, we strike a careful balance between beautiful design and usability, crafting visual elements in a way that encourages users to stay and explore digital experiences. Good design isn’t just about making something look pretty – it’s about using proven visual-communication methods to support usability and the application of a client’s brand to create the right personality, tone and style across all devices. 

The goal of the new ChristchurchNZ website was to provide a unified platform, amalgamating more than 10 sites into a single experience where visitors, locals, migrants, students and businesses can experience, interact and connect with O¯ tautahi Christchurch and the Canterbury region. Beyond the sophisticated technical delivery, the visual design needed to engage, encourage action and showcase the newly developed ChristchurchNZ visual identity. The unique identity system tells the emotional and powerful narrative of O¯ tautahi Christchurch as a city of exploration. The design brief demanded a bold, confident and captivating style that brings the brand to life, while enhancing usability and improving the overall user experience. 

The result is a modern and future-proofed platform that allows ChristchurchNZ to realise their mission of igniting bold ambition for O¯ tautahi Christchurch and continue to consistently drive transformation of its economy through targeted business initiatives via their reimagined brand presence.

Jon Whitehead

What growth opportunities is NV Interactive seeing in other regions?

Our roots were proudly planted 20 years ago in Christchurch, where Jon heads up the studio, but we’ve also been working throughout New Zealand for 15 years and internationally for 10. We have people based in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland, where Sonia heads up the office, and we travel frequently to be close to our clients and partners. We’re huge advocates for the use of digital-communication tools, but acknowledge there’s no substitute for getting together face to face over a decent long black.

Although the main centres will always be the engine room of our economy, we’re seeing huge opportunities and significant investments being made across the regions, with recent projects coming out of Hawke’s Bay, Palmerston North, Nelson, Geraldine and Southland, to name a few. And not the stereotypical primary-sector initiatives you might expect – these are all world-class, creative-led endeavours. The challenges of 2020 have shifted the dial permanently for many, and location is no longer the barrier it used to be.

This is even more true on the world stage. We’ve been actively working globally for a long time now, but this has grown significantly in the past 18 months, with major new projects including BBC Good Food, FedEx and the ICC. Geography has never been a particular constraint for us, but as the world has been forced to embrace working from home, any lingering reluctance to engage across borders has all but evaporated. 

We’ve also recently launched a product business, NV Play, to commercialise our 15-plus years of delivering sportstech solutions to the game of cricket. This has gone exceptionally well, and we now help run cricket at the highest level in 15 countries, including New Zealand, England and Ireland. At the end of the day, we’re all about crafting exceptional digital experiences.  

For more about NV Interactive and how the team can help you reach your digital audiences, visit nvinteractive.com

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