The Beginning of a Successful Collaboration
Our history with Swiss Post began as early as 1999 with the initial contact and smaller projects. “But things really kicked off with the 2004 call for tender for a new CMS”, as Michael Fischer, Account Manager of 10 years for Swiss Post remembers. We won the call for tender, in October 2004 we held the first workshop, and the new platform with Livelink technology went online in April 2005.
After the successful go-live we just never stopped: We kept coding and took over the operation, maintenance and support. We made the platform accessible. We implemented connections, integrations, interfaces, modules and much more. In 2005 we also started providing support for web analysis, which continues to this day. Jean-Marc Bolfing, our Expert Digital Analyst for Swiss Post, says about the collaboration: “One of the biggest challenges was and continues to be the variety of different online services provided by Swiss Post. However, the unified data layer for all platforms and the friendly atmosphere make our work easier and very inspiring.”
In 2007, we started supporting the Post in their email marketing with Inxmail. Since then, we have covered the entire range of digital services in our relationship with our customer Swiss Post. In addition, we have implemented numerous projects for PostAuto, PostFinance and other business divisions.
Colourful Walls at Unic
A few years later, it was time for a second relaunch of the Swiss Post website. A change in brand identity triggered a realignment of the web activities.
We compiled the requirements in close collaboration and numerous workshops with Swiss Post. “I remember the walls at Unic, which were absolutely covered in requirements”, Christian (Chris) Hahnloser, today Principal Consultant for major Sitecore projects, recalls. “As soon as a requirement had been specified, we marked it in blue. And once it had been implemented, we marked it green. This lead to very colourful walls in our office.”
The launch of the new Post website including the PostAuto pages in 2009 created a big bang and was very successful. Swiss Post was also happy:
Thanks to the reliability and strong quality focus of our implementation partner, we were able to complete this project successfully and on time.Gundekar Giebel, 2009
Then Head of Electronic Media, Swiss Post
Support for SEO, Marketing Automation and Much More
Since 2010, our consulting team has been providing input for Swiss Post as needed and rounding out our service portfolio. For more than 10 years, we have been consulting, conceptualising and supporting Swiss Post with search engine optimisation, marketing automation and personalisation. Matthias Schmid, Senior Consultant to Swiss Post since 2012, comments on the collaboration: “Our principal contacts at Swiss Post have a lot of expertise. But sometimes, we can help by providing an outside view and our experiences from other digital initiatives in the market. For instance, we helped Swiss Post better understand personalisation, get to grips with the concept and implement it in Sitecore.”
More Than Just a Contract
“In 2013, we kicked off one of the most challenging projects I have ever been involved in at Unic”, says Chris. And that is saying something. He has been with us since 2006 and weathered many a stormy project. Swiss Post wanted to build a next-generation Post website, which was a comprehensive, highly complex relaunch project.
Chris talks about the kick-off meeting for the mammoth project: “The program management not only introduced us personally to an audience of about 40 people, but also ran through an enormous number of tasks. We listened, asked our questions and recorded all the needs and requirements of Swiss Post. Afterwards, Gabriela Eymann, our then Senior Project Manager, and I returned to Unic, where a team-building event was underway. But we could not join in with the bowling straight away, we needed a stiff drink first...
The Birth of a Master
A lot of sweat, discussion and working hours later, we presented the new Post website based on Sitecore in 2015. It took almost a week to launch, as so many surrounding systems had to be migrated and hooked up.
“I think that during this project, we probably ate more Bernese “Mandelbärli” than the Glatz bakery at Hirschengraben would sell in two years. We laughed and joked a lot, but always with an enormous focus on the goal.” And this statement by Chris Hahnloser is reflected clearly in the result: Master of Swiss Web 2016, 1 gold, 1 silver and 3 bronze awards and 2 Sitecore Experience Awards were the well-earned rewards for this moment of glory in our partnership.
On an Equal Footing
Our relationship with Swiss Post has always been close – a true partnership – and so much more than just a contract. Chris Hahnloser explains: “Despite the difficulties and challenges, I always felt that we were in it together, and that includes all players at all hierarchy levels of Swiss Post. Despite our different perspectives, we’ve always been on an equal footing. I think this aspect, in particular, makes the partnership between Swiss Post and Unic so unique and valuable for both sides.”
Roger Grüring, then Head of Digital Consulting and to this day an important contact at Swiss Post, said: “With their goal-oriented, competent and reliable work, the Unic team made a significant contribution to the success of the project.”
I always felt that we were in it together, and that includes all players at all hierarchy levels of Swiss Post. Despite our different perspectives, we’ve always been on an equal footing. I think this aspect, in particular, makes the partnership between Swiss Post and Unic so unique and valuable for both sides.Christian Hahnloser
Principal Consultant, Unic
Listening and Taking Time
A project does not end with the go-live. “A stable team of long-term Unic employees was then put in charge of the future development of the Post website”, explains Martin Eisenring, Account Manager for Swiss Post since 2012. With every release, we continued to conceptualise, validate, analyse and develop the Post website. Most of all, we had to listen: record the Post’s requirements and take the time to really understand their needs. “That is the key to the success of our collaboration”, Martin Eisenring is convinced.
A Commitment to Human-Centred Design
2018 saw the beginning of the optimisation post website mission, which resulted in a fourth relaunch in 2019 with a complete realignment of navigation and information structures. Gone were the different access points for private and business customers, which had led to a lot of duplicate content and had often caused confusion. A new and progressive access concept places the focus on the users of the Post website. It takes only one click to find out the postage for a small package to Germany, for example.
Roger Grüring and Silvan Bolli, former Product Owner of the Post website tell us in an interview how they managed to never lose sight of the users in the creation of the now award-winning project:
Humour and Appreciation
This project, another challenging one for all project members, also came with its fair share of team spirit, humour and laughs. One important factor was proximity. “Many project members often worked on site at Swiss Post”, remembers Corinne Wydler-Rölli, Frontend Developer, who contributed to Swiss Post’s frontends for a few years. But the team also knew how to keep spirits high: They set up an unofficial WhatsApp group – including team members from Swiss Post: “We sent photos back and forth and organised after-work drinks together”, recalls Dorian Minnig, the concept and design lead for the relaunch. “The team even chose its own, unofficial project anthem”, smiles Mayumi Sugaya, UX Architect in the project.
Our Senior Project Manager for the project, Irem Altioklar, also talks about how well people knew each other by the end of the project: “For the go-live celebrations, Swiss Post had put together an entire wall full of quotes and soundbites from the project. They didn’t put any names on there, but everybody still knew who had said what.”
What is our collaboration like today? The right person to ask surely must be Rouven Steiger, our Senior UX Designer, who works 100% for Swiss Post. He provides expertise on visual design, app style guides and design management in numerous Post projects.
Rouven says about his work: “The Post environment is very challenging and tremendously exciting. Everyone in Switzerland is a customer of Swiss Post.” Safeguarding this public service, meeting the accessibility standards of the Confederation, implementing the political requirements and still producing the best possible result for the users – this conundrum is what makes his work interesting.
Everyone in Switzerland is a customer of Swiss Post. Doing justice to this fact at all times is what fascinates me about my day-to-day work.Rouven Steiger
Senior UX Designer, Unic
Being embedded with the customer makes it easier to understand Swiss Post’s everyday challenges: “The long-term commitment has led to a high level of mutual trust. Witnessing the work ethic of Swiss Post during trying times in particular has made a lasting impression on me.”
Rouven particularly remembers his first big assignment in 2018, when the new intranet was being developed. Expectations were high in that project, and tasks were complex and wide-ranging. And still: “The collaboration in the project team was surprisingly pleasant given the ambitious timeline and limited resources. This interdisciplinary, close-knit team was the key to a timely and high-quality implementation.”
A Joint Scrum Team
For more than a year now, we have been working in a joint Scrum team under technical leadership by Swiss Post. Two backend developers for Sitecore, three frontend developers and one tester, from Switzerland and our development centre in Poland, continue to work on the development of the Post website and other projects.
Katarzyna (Kasia) Pietraszko, who has been a Sitecore developer for Swiss Post for almost four years, says: “In early February 2020, we all got together and spent a team day with Scrum and agile workshops in Bern. Since then, we have only been able to meet in person a few times due to the pandemic. Still, we have been through a lot as a team and created some fantastic products.”
Kasia describes the work in the Scrum team: “Sometimes we run into problems, and then one person focuses on fixing them. That way, everyone becomes an expert in a certain aspect: search, accessibility, header navigation and so on. And when we meet up online, we always have a lot of fun!”
Dancing Under the Confetti
Dedication and commitment pay off: for the users of the Post website, Swiss Post, the projects and for us. Our work for Swiss Post has received many awards: The four relaunch projects received three Sitecore Experience Awards, one Master of Swiss Web and 9 awards in gold, silver and bronze at the Best of Swiss Web. These awards showcase our commitment to Swiss Post and its customers.
With the revision of its website, Swiss Post has significantly improved access to its digital services. The navigation is exemplary and the products benefit from a clear structure and are easy to retrieve. Segmentation into private and business customers is a thing of the past, content redundancies have been removed and customers now have more direct access to the required content. Despite the many changes, the result is still seamless.BOSW 2020
Jury comment on the Master submission
Swiss Post and Unic share a dedication to and passion for creating accessible solutions. We want content and information on the web to be accessible to everyone – with no barriers.
“The kick-off for accessible frontends at Unic coincided with Swiss Post”, as Christian Hahnloser recalls. He significantly contributed to the 2006 transformation of the Post website in line with WCAG. The AA+ certification from the Access for all foundation was issued in 2008.
The relaunch projects in 2009 and 2015 were also implemented in line with WCAG and were certified by Access for all. Many team members at Unic, frontend developers in particular, are still very passionate about the accessibility of Swiss Post services.
Changing things takes courage. Together with Swiss Post, we have charted many new and innovative paths. More recently, we did this on the current Post website: Thanks to many bold prototypes and usability tests and ongoing validation, customers can now easily find their way around the Swiss Post website.
Our UX Architect Mayumi Sugaya and our UX Designer Dorian Minnig tell us how it took shared principles, excellent applications and real user feedback to create useful services.