NEB website on laptop

Experience Design with New England BioLabs A life-science leader transforms around digital

Since the 1970s, New England Biolabs® (NEB®) has been the leading supplier of restriction enzymes and other DNA-related products used in genomic research. Their worldwide headquarters is located on 140 acres of pristine conservation land north of Boston in Ipswich, Massachusetts. There, several hundred scientists support the development, manufacture and distribution of products to production and research facilities around the world.

Connective DX partnered with NEB on a multi-year project to completely redesign its digital experience, extend mobile tools to prospects and customers, replatform the website and complex product catalog onto Sitecore’s web content management platform, and integrate with a new ecommerce platform.

Building the foundation for future growth

Like many large organizations with legacy systems, NEB reached the point where its proprietary technology platforms could no longer scale to meet the needs of the business. Even more critical, the digital properties weren’t providing the same level of customer experience and service that have been the hallmark of NEB’s brand for the past 37 years.

NEB was at an important inflection point. Competitively, they saw the need to grow mindshare, make the web the center of NEB’s corporate strategy, and build a more sustainable technology platform that would serve as a foundation for future growth.

It was painfully clear that our custom CMS could no longer scale, given our growing product catalog, site traffic, and marketing needs, and the manual nature of our updates were not only inefficient, they could potentially introduce inconsistencies that could jeopardize our customers’ trust in NEB.


Digital Marketing Manager at NEB

With a complex catalog of 1,500+ highly scientific products, NEB also recognized the need to architect a content and data strategy that would provide a single source of “truth” across the organization, integrate with line of business applications, and empower scientists in the lab to make data changes.

NEB partnered with us to develop the digital strategy and take an outside-in approach to understanding the role of digital through the lens of NEB’s customers and prospects. This included replatforming onto a new, more modern CMS and crafting a strategy to better support the digital channel. Creating and publishing product data, as well as driving marketing, sales, customer support and service were paramount to the new digital strategy. In short, this would be a transformational project for the organization and its customers.

User research informs digital strategy

NEB is loved by the scientific community and its customers, and NEB’s digital channel needed to build upon and extend this well-earned brand position. To thoroughly understand NEB’s customer needs, the project teams conducted extensive primary research, including contextual interviews and an online survey querying over 750 users in all segments. “Over the years, I have learned to fully trust NEB products,” said one survey participant. “To me, NEB is to molecular biology enzymes, what Apple is to computers; they both make great products and I like using them.”

NEB personas

Secondary research included NEB stakeholder discovery and alignment workshops, as well as industry, brand, and competitive research. Seven personas were created and prioritized from the research, including a task-based analysis that helped prioritize content, features, and the overall digital experience.

The customer insights helped inform a strategy that significantly shifted the product-centric content to offer expanded information needed by users, including how to plan and perform experiments. The new content also included more detail on the application of the products, to help scientists learn how best to use them. 

Product catalog hub connects digital experiences

More than most other product companies, NEB’s products possess a dizzying array of detail and specification. New architectural structure, process, and workflow were needed to deliver the optimal user experience—for users of the site as well as internal users of the system. Creating a new content model for the product content and establishing the new system as a single source of truth was core to the strategy. This new data model would then be used to support not just the main website, but also ecommerce and mobile applications, as well as distributor and global partner websites in future phases.

Sitecore’s web content management was selected to support the complex content types and relationships, as well as marketing-driven needs around content delivery and personalization.

NEB on ipad

We re-architected, redesigned, and replatformed onto Sitecore and built a custom product management application focused on supporting these foundational elements:

  • A custom-designed administrative interface with an author experience that allowed product managers, scientists and marketing folks to easily manage product data
  • A content reuse strategy that allowed NEB to change content in one place instead of dozens for making simple product changes.
  • A content strategy to enable multi-faceted categorization and presentation of hundreds of product types and hundreds of options within those types
  • A content model and structured data system that enforced data consistency across complex products
  • Simplified workflow to streamline the publishing process

With the product data model and publishing workflow in place, the teams worked to integrate the site with a new ecommerce platform, the Google search appliance, and other custom applications, including dynamic charting and individual preference tools. The power of the new platform was not simply being able to store and manage all of this complex content, but to dynamically assemble content in the right context and deliver it to customers across many digital touchpoints.

New website performs

The redesigned experience placed a major emphasis on customer engagement and revenue goals. The information architecture work focused on improving overall wayfinding with user-driven options to indicate favorites and a new bookmarking widget to enable faster, personalized navigation.

A powerful faceted search, comprehensive cross-referencing of existing and new materials, like application notes, tech tips, and protocols, as well as additional technical resources and web tools allow for improved and meaningful interactions on the new site. “Thanks to significant customer input during development, the new website makes the same valuable print catalog content more intuitive to access,” Tanya said, adding, “The ordering process is also much simpler to start and repeat.”

NEB monitor

We also extended and integrated the user experience, product data, and the ecommerce platform for U.S. sales. As part of streamlining the ordering process, customers can now order directly from their search results, in addition to the product page.

Since the launch, NEB has experienced the following engagement and efficiency results:

  • Number of web pages viewed per visit has increased by over 13%
  • 29% increase in the time people spend on the site
  • Time customers spend on the site, after performing a search, has increased by over 74%
  • Percent of individuals exiting, immediately after carrying out a search, decreased by nearly 86%
  • Adding new marketing forms and videos is 100% faster
  • Modifying content—the home page, images, templates, etc.—is now over 400% faster

Building on the foundation: expanding globally

The new enterprise platform is NEB’s foundation for growth, both in the U.S. and internationally. The experience is planned to extend internationally in the future, using Sitecore’s Customer Engagement Platform for overall online marketing communications and promotions. And as their customers are paramount to NEB’s business, the NEB and Connective DX teams are continually reviewing analytics and garnering user feedback to enhance the site’s user experience.

As Tanya puts it, “Connective DX and the new Sitecore enterprise platform have afforded us a solid, strategic foundation upon which to grow, expand, and continuously improve NEB’s digital experiences.”

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