Transparent designs and manufactures interconnects, speaker cables, and audio cables in Saco, Maine. Since 1980, supreme quality and meticulous innovation have been at the forefront of their business. Driven by a shared passion for music and in-home sound, the company got its start primarily as distributors of high-end audio products for fully integrated sound systems. By 1993, they introduced their own brand of audio, video, digital power cabling, and power conditioning, taking further ownership over their customers’ sonic experience. Today, they produce advanced audio provisions distributed to vendors all over the world.
Transparent reached out to us with an ecommerce-shaped problem that had been on their plates for nearly five years: their website(s). As it was, Transparent was operating with three incomplete, outdated sites — none of which were successfully operating as reliable, on-brand platforms for their products. With this in mind, we were entrusted with finding and building a solution that was as mindful and unique as Transparent’s business itself.
Originally, we were tasked with resurrecting all three of Transparent’s working sites: two sub-brands and one main brand site that was released, never finished, and built on an unsupported CMS that couldn’t be updated. However, after considering Transparent’s brand values and taking the long-term wellbeing of operations into account, we decided it was best to start at Square One. This meant redirecting everything from the three sites into one unified site that would be built fresh, soup to nuts.
Beginning the construction of this new site required a great deal of pre-development organization, due to Transparent’s wide array of niche offerings. What’s more, inventory was in flux and they were lacking one succinct database of product information. This presented us with both the challenge and the opportunity to create a digestible, multi-layered back-end product catalog that would make way for our work in real-time and later serve as a well-oiled tool for Transparent’s internal processes.
Transparent products have a lot of variances, many being iterative of each other, which can complicate things for a consumer’s online discovery. It was crucial to display products in a way that enabled customers to assemble a fully integrated cable system with the same ease and understanding that they would if they were to have the insight of Transparent’s sales team at their fingertips. With this in mind, once all product data was organized, items were mapped to their applicable collections both generally and unique to the Transparent brand. For example, there are speaker cables of every caliber, so products were arranged scaling from good to better to best, as well as grouped in pathways of consumer type from audio newcomers to connoisseurs. Executing this kind of educational translation with the feel of a natural online experience required complex and structured product data work and a sound understanding of Transparent’s goals.
The new site and online store are a huge improvement for us in terms of reaching our customers. I believe online store traffic and sales have increased.
KAREN SUMNER, CEO
In close collaboration with Transparent’s art director we were able to align the build-out of this new site with their existing brand standards. Transparent’s team was responsible for the content and design of the brand story pages, while we led the charge on maintaining consistency throughout. Ultimately, we threaded a very fine needle between creating a direct-to-consumer ecommerce site with stable, cloud-based hosting on Shopify that could also serve as a thoughtful sales tool for Transparent’s network of international dealers.
In addition to building Transparent’s new website, providing web strategy, support, monitoring, and analytics reporting, we also redesigned their “Total Immersion” training manual (a resource for their dealer network) and gave their retail catalog an updated look.
Through the design process of these assets, we explored the use of abstract illustrations that represented key characteristics of Transparent products, such as dynamic range, tonal balance, and signal paths. We worked through several options before landing on a representation of tonal balance, meaning that an accurate balance of fundamentals and overtones creates non-fatiguing sound.
The completed design featured a grid of twelve circles all equally spaced, with each row gradually darkening. Ultimately, this theme carried throughout the manual. Organization and readability were key throughout the interior pages as these were to be used for educational purposes. Each section of the manual featured a table of contents paired with an immersive full-page image, while the copy to follow was cleanly laid out into subsections.
Looking ahead, we plan to continue our work with Transparent through an overhaul of their customer service system and the creation of an additional digital resource for their dealer network.
In a condensed time frame, we were able to provide a strategic solution for Transparent’s splintered online presence by delivering one stable, unified website — ultimately completing a nearly five-year work-in-progress in less than six months.