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We built a web site for Reuters Insurance Information Services (RIIS) to promote two news insurance information news products. The two products - Reuters Insurance Briefing (RIB) and Reuters Insurance Alert Server (RIAS) - could be used separately or together; one provided regular news briefings whereas the other provided real-time information on demand.
In 1996, these news products were only available as dedicated news feeds using special client software at subscriber sites. The cost of the products were such that Reuters did not expect people to order them online - the main aim of the web site was to encourage visitors to order a free trial.
The site design had to convey concepts of:
The defined target market of business customers were unlikely to have much web experience; the site therefore had to be very easy to use.
We prepared a site specification which went through several iterations with Reuters. The document described the site structure and described each page in a structured format.
The site's graphic designers, Denison Design, took the idea of the two products which could work together or singly and developed an interlocking device of contrasting colours to represent the two products.
The device appeared whole on the home page and then split on each of the product pages which were colour-coded according to their half of the two-part device (blue or green).
We constructed the web site, including the creation of templates, data files and scripts to process the online forms. The site design called for the use of tables and GIFs, both recent additions to the HTML specification and not yet widely supported by browsers.
In order to provide a sense of immediacy for the site, we wrote software that would extract news items from an existing source and convert them into web pages for use on the site.
Two versions of the site were created (which was hosted on one of Reuter's servers) - one which used tables and animated GIFs and a second that didn't with an adjusted page layout.
The site was to be available only for six months but was so successful in promoting the products that it was up for two years.
We later worked with Reuters on several other projects, including prototyping a frames web-interface to another new product, Reuters Business Briefing.
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