Website of the Week (Week 107)

Christmas Express

It just wouldn’t be right if we didn’t enter into the full swing of festive spirit and take a look at a few Christmas websites this week – so after a little investigating, I came across Christmas Express, a responsive microsite dedicated to sending a virtual letter to loved ones that’s delivered 24 hours later by your very own personal virtual postman.

With the importance of family remaining at the heart of Milka’s brand, their visual identity is also recognised for its family friendliness with its mallow colour, alpine cow and distinctive hand written logo which strongly references childlike qualities. So when I came across their festive treat, I had high hopes.

At first, you are greeted on the landing page with a winter alpine landscape, coloured in the mauve colour palette, which is so famously associated with the brand. A beautifully illustrated postman in traditional uniform, riding his bike in the snow, animates centrally to the screen. Below, Milka gives the option to select from a standard or high definition screen, thus broadening their target market and ensuring the optimum experience is given to each of their audience. With high definition screen resolution on digital devices now producing even sharper and clearer images, it enables richer engagement similar to that experienced on modern televisions. Designers and developers are taking full advantage of these technological advancements and integrating them into websites, making the experience for users more immersive and engaging than ever.

After selecting an option on the landing page, you are transported to another wintery animated scene further up the mountainside, with written letters being transported along rope pulleys into large ateliers, suggesting the website’s intention to take you on a bit of a journey. Set to traditional Christmas backing music – light, magical and with a touch of choral, I’m already eager to discover what else there is to see.

With a handwritten message ‘say it with a letter’ and a clear call to action centred in the screen that asks you to ‘write a letter’, the navigation is super simple to follow. The user also has the option in a secondary navigation to select one of 7 different languages and mute the music at any point in the website if they wish. To the bottom right-hand side of the screen, features the postman illustration in a large icon with the option to track any letters previously sent. I love the attention to detail with the animated hover status and a charming popup that allows an easy way to enter your tracking code. The popup also prompts the user to create a letter via a clickable button should they not yet have a tracking code, or alternatively, have found themselves getting sidetracked in investigating the beautifully crafted graphics…like me!

The scene and music changes once again, this time inside the atelier and with a more up-tempo piece of music to reflect the animation of letters and gifts being transported along the makeshift pulley system in the cabined room. The user is then asked to either connect using their Facebook login details or to enter their email address. By using a huge social media platform in order to signup, enables Milka to discover more about their audience, habits and preferences, but also allows the user to easily share their experience and thus creating more marketing exposure for Milka. Boasting over one billion euros of turnover per year all around the world, that’s potentially a lot of useful data at Milka’s fingertips!

The designers attention to detail carries through with the subtle, sweeping hover status as you enter your personal details, ensuring the audience is engaged at every moment, even during the more mundane tasks. The animation continues as a blank letter makes its way up to the first floor of the atelier and stops for the user to begin personalising their Christmas letter by selecting a stencil of their choice. Clear instructions tell the viewer to spray the stencil with virtual spray paint to create the front of their Christmas card and a ‘restart’ button is available should they not be happy with their first attempt.

The journey of your Christmas letter continues through the atelier via a series of fun, creative animations. Firstly, the letter stops at a station where the viewer is able to write a personalised message with a magic pen that animates and writes in a stylised handwriting font as you type. The option to add a photograph via four options, Facebook, webcam, from your computer or a few pre-selected images from Milka, adds once again to the playful, layered interactions. The letter is then sent down to its final stop for the sender to choose a stamp and write their recipient’s name on the envelope. Finally the completed letter makes its way down a series of paths and chutes to be placed into the postman’s leather satchel with the personalised destination marked on the side.

Before the viewer leaves the site, they can preview to see where their letter is on its journey. The postman previously seen at the beginning of the experience, can be seen in a full animation peddling in the snow, with a tracking code, delivery countdown and progress timeline, designed to mimic the route of his journey. With internet connection speeds getting faster all the time and integration video plugins becoming more advanced, we’re seeing more websites extending what were once short video excerpts, to integrating full-length videos. Milka have clearly adopted this within their microsite and have successfully created a magical and entertaining interactive adventure.

Milka says “we believe a little Milka chocolate can go a long way to making the world a more tender place” and with a rich, heart warming microsite that supports a modern-day twist on traditional communication beliefs, coupled with this special time of year…we can’t help but feel that little more festive and the need to spread a little love.

What a wonderfully giftwrapped treat!