BP is the most vertically integrated client I have ever worked with. Simplistically, the company doesn’t just take oil out the ground, it sells it directly to consumers at petrol stations or uses it to create chemicals which end up in everyday things like plastic. As a result, a vast ecosystem of digital properties had organically grown, without a strategic north star, from websites about where to find your nearest petrol station to sites about BP's shipping operation.
People often ask me whether I was conflicted about working on a project for a client who was an oil company. And yes, I have thought about it a lot. In particular when the Hollywood blockbuster Deep Water Horizon came to cinemas unexpectedly during the middle of the project. What I concluded was my work does not define me. My eyes have been opened to an industry that I had paid little attention to. As a result, I am no longer ignorant to the landscape of the world’s largest oil and gas companies and how everyone including me rely on them to go about their daily lives. Having worked on this project, I have now developed a personal perspective on topics I was naïve about before.
In the London office, my design partner and I spent the discovery phase getting to the bottom of the existing ecosystem of websites. Understanding what all the many business units wanted to say to the world and the material they were legally required to publish.
Through primary and secondary research methods like content audits and stakeholder interviews, we got a good grounding of how BP currently leveraged digital. What was fascinating, was contrasting what clients wanted website visitors to know with what users actually needed. I gained valuable insights from information architecture exercises and remote user testing that yielded valuable evidence to support our case for change. Activities like this laid the foundation for a creative vision of a responsive content management system redesign.
Having worked on this discovery project amongst other workstreams for BP for over a year, my work came to end when I transferred to the AKQA New York office in August 2017. My design partner and I passed the creative vision for the redesign over to our colleagues, who executed it with the help of a committed development team in Ukraine.
Our template and component vision went live firstly with the BP Shipping website in September 2018, and subsequently bp.com. I learned an incredible amount from this project about what it takes to workshop and align stakeholders from a multinational corporate with a lot going on. It was a challenge, and I would definitely do things differently next time. But I am pleased with how our work is starting to come to life, and trickle through the organisation.