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As the early leader in mass market online services, AOL has a long history (in Internet terms) and it has continually evolved in response to rapidly changing technologies and user demands. Today, AOL is re-inventing itself to appeal to a wider, younger audience in hopes to shed the image as just an early internet portal. AOL’s vast global content network—which includes such popular sites as Engadget, MapQuest, DailyFinance, and Moviefone—has something that appeals to every demographic, but pulling such a diverse range of brands into a single seamless experience is an enormous challenge. Fi was thrilled to be included as the only third-party to help concept and design this massive brand and online presence makeover.

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The Process

The ultimate goal was to make a primary, recurring, indispensable Internet destination for its users. To help define AOL’s new direction, Fi first looked at where the company has been in an effort to understand the business at its core and the relationship it has built with its users. AOL, in turn, provided huge amounts of both qualitative information and quantitative statistical data from over twenty years of business, which was a huge help to jump-start the learning process.

Then, with fresh eyes, the Fi team brainstormed solutions and and developed an overarching strategy with new concepts and designs for A key proposed addition to the website was time-appropriate targeting: for example, show general news, weather, and traffic information in the morning, entertainment news at night. Automatic, context-sensitive customization like this is an elegant solution to keep users engaged with minimal distractions.

As the process neared its end, Fi presented the client with final wireframes and functional interactive prototypes of the new design, which greatly simplified the overall user experience while providing easy access to all of AOL’s great depth of content offerings.

The Results

AOL is currently preparing for their re-launch. Beyond Fi’s responsive support and detailed deliverables, the AOL truly appreciated Fi’s objective perspective kept the project grounded throughout the complex process of reshaping their established brand and website. Fi’s redesign points the way for to remain highly practical and at the same time sophisticated, intuitive, and beautiful.

This project was a big win for Fi, and it was also a fascinating rare glimpse at the inner workings of a successful major media company. The story of AOL as an constant innovator and industry leader makes its continued prevalence all the more impressive in the context of today’s ever-changing web. These experiences are just a part of how Fi stays on the cutting edge and continues to create the best user experiences in the world


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Release Date
October 18, 2010

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