Faced with a disjointed user experience across 12 websites, Milliken & Co. set out on a redesign to balance the needs of its customers and internal stakeholders.

Redesigning a website can be a lengthy and cumbersome process chock full of unexpected twists and turns. Consolidating multiple websites into one as part of the redesign process can be far trickier, especially if the stakeholders involved don’t have much input into the process.

Milliken & Co., a diversified global manufacturer involved in industries including textiles, chemicals and floor coverings, recently took on a web redesign of its family of 12 websites. With websites dedicated to each of its various lines of business, such as specialty interior fabrics, Milliken decided to consolidate its disparate collection of websites into a single site. The end goal: highlighting the diversity of the company’s manufacturing capabilities and products and delivering a better brand and user experience.

We had a disjointed user experience. Our mission was to consolidate those 12 disparate sites into one site, on a single platform.
Richard Freeman, senior digital marketing manager
Milliken & Co.

Richard Freeman, senior digital marketing manager, Milliken & Co.

For Milliken, the challenge to its redesign was threefold: find a site design firm that it could work with as a partner, balance the needs of internal stakeholders and users, and reduce friction during the redesign process by streamlining the process itself.

“We had a disjointed user experience,” Richard Freeman, senior digital marketing manager for Milliken, says. “Our mission was to consolidate those 12 disparate sites into one site, on a single platform.”


In addition to redesigning its websites, Milliken developed its first digital product catalog for three divisions using Content Hub, implemented site search technology from Coveo and translated the new site into eight languages.

The starting point for meeting those objects was selecting the right web design agency. Milliken began the process by developing a set of characteristics it sought in a web design firm. Topping the list was finding a firm that could collaborate with the manufacturer as a true partner on the project, rather than treat the manufacturer as another client, Freeman says.

Forging a web design team

Milliken’s prep work in advance of interviewing prospective agencies led the manufacturer to select Horizontal Digital, a Minneapolis-based digital consultancy. Freeman says the two key factors in the decision were Horizontal’s willingness to work closely with Milliken’s team of content developers and IT personnel, and the agency’s flexible approach to web design, which meant it was not locked into a rigid process.

“Large projects like these can last six to 24 months, so it’s important the organizations involved have their cultures aligned,” says Andrew Ridgeway, creative director for Horizontal Digital. “Both organizations needed to agree on what the problem is, how to go about solving it, and what is a great user experience.”


After hiring Horizontal, one of the initial steps in the redesign process was for Milliken to move away from the multiple content management systems for its 12 websites to Sitecore 10, the latest version of ecommerce technology provider Sitecore’s content management platform.

Upgrading user and brand experience

Next, both sides sought to define the overarching problem that prompted Milliken to consolidate its sites, which they had identified as providing inconsistent user and brand experiences across the dozen websites. With the problem identified, the Milliken stakeholders in the project, such as senior executives and members of the marketing, finance and legal departments, shared their concerns on developing a better user experience.

The project entered the information from stakeholders into a spreadsheet to make it easier to identify areas not just where stakeholders agreed but also where they disagreed. The process helped Milliken and Horizontal zero in on design ideas and site components worth pursuing. It also helped both organizations align all stakeholders when it came to achieving the objectives of the redesign. “It’s important that stakeholders’ voices are heard and responded to,” says Ridgeway.

Founded in 1865, Spartanburg, South Carolina-based Milliken has 70 locations in 15 countries. The manufacturer’s products run the gamut from specialty chemical and floor covering products to protective textile materials and healthcare products. As a privately help company, Milliken does not release financial figures.


Having gathered input from Milliken’s stakeholders, Horizontal then performed a review of the buyers visiting Milliken’s websites and identified five common user groups across the family of sites. That information provided the basis for the development of three prototype site designs to provide Milliken with a tangible feel for the project’s direction and a glimpse of the what the new design might look like. This process allowed Milliken and Horizontal to “align on a vision” both companies could believe in when it came to the kicking off redesign process, Freeman says.

Taking the MVP approach

With the prototypes created, Milliken had a better sense of what components and content would be needed to create what Freeman described as a minimum viable product, or MVP, for the project to be a success. “We took the MVP approach to determine what components can be included and still meet our objectives for the new site,” Freeman says. “That means aligning on what’s possible and necessary. We can always come up with new features, but to launch on time, we needed to know what’s feasible now and what needs to be backlogged to create a baseline, especially if we have to start over.”

For the bells and whistles that did not make the cut during the MVP process, the project team designated them for future inclusions and prioritized their deployment. Analytics and user response to the redesign would play a key role in determining when the backlogged components would be added. Getting this process out of the way early is important because it helps streamline the design process, Freeman says.

One aspect of the redesign process that surprised Milliken and Horizontal was  an insufficient amount of time allotted for the new site’s content development. The problem, Freedman says, was that content developers were still developing content for Milliken’s legacy websites while simultaneously developing content for the new site.


Organizing content development

“Content development takes time,” Freeman says. “As content is built for an existing site, you need to take into account how it will fit with the new site. You need to give yourself a long runway for content development during a redesign.”

To correct the problem, Milliken’s content writers began working more closely with Horizontal. This allowed them to see the page templates for the new site, which helped determine how much content can fit on a page, what content to use and how best to present that content. As a result, content writers could readily determine what content to keep and what to omit, as well as the size of text and images so the content could stand out.

“Taking this approach was a new addition to our process and gave content developers the ability to adjust during the redesign process,” Ridgeway says. He adds that the developers identified “the purpose and basic requirements of a web page and aligned on the page’s structure without getting bogged down by design decisions.”

The process helped speed the design process by reducing the number of page components, which in turn reduced maintenance costs for the new site.


The last piece of the puzzle for Milliken was to train its staff on how to use the new site. That objective was achieved through a series of internal workshops and the development of a training dashboard to make employees more self-sufficient when troubleshooting issues. “The goal was to prevent internal users from reaching out (for help) every time they encountered an issue,” Freeman says.

In retrospect, Freeman says the key to the project’s success was the close collaboration between the Milliken and Horizontal teams. “The MVP approach isn’t perfect, but collaboration is key because the vendor isn’t coming in and saying ‘here’s our process, it’s worked for others, it will work for you,’” Freeman says. “This project was successful because we gave each other the resources we both needed to succeed.”

Peter Lucas is a Highland Park, Illinois-based freelance journalist covering business and technology.    

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