Define a program that helps business partners connect and sell with overall improved interfaces, experiences, and resources by transforming the program from the inside out.
Beginning with a specialized, in-person workshop with IBM’s PartnerWorld team, we compared other competitive programs, defined content pillars, and created an actionable roadmap for the project.
The workshop revealed the need to rethink, redesign, and rewrite navigation for over 175,000 unique pages to build a connected brand experience that gives Business Partners easy access to the true value of PartnerWorld.
Over the course of our five-year partnership, the work expanded and evolved to include personalized incentives, public-facing web pages, email campaigns, marketing materials, benefits packages, and member-centric tools.
Define PartnerWorld’s mission statement — the brand’s core story and differentiators — by aligning IBM’s cross-functional PartnerWorld team
Identify core partner audience users, understand their needs, and recognize their fears to determine how PartnerWorld should support them
Identify how audiences interact with the program at different relationship stages and information levels
Establish five content pillars to support the ParterWorld narrative and align it to business and audience/user needs
Align PartnerWorld leadership to identify and reduce resourcing gaps to deliver on the project
"In all my years, I've not been part of such a productive workshop as this."
– IBM PartnerWorld Leadership –
Partners needed a clear path to useful resources and available benefits that inspired them to join
Navigating to relevant resources should be easy for partners. PartnerWorld needed to communicate more clearly what resources and benefits were available to partners to streamline their online experience and support their business growth.
Streamlining navigation to minimize search
How can you tell if a program’s website is hard to navigate? Find out how often users are using the search function to find what they need — the more they do, the clearer it is that your navigation isn’t intuitive enough. By redesigning the PartnerWorld UX to focus on navigation efficacy, users can more easily locate tools, resources, and offerings they need while still allowing for personalization by partner type, tier, region, etc.
Showing Partners what to do, where to go, and how to get there
Consistency is as crucial as clarity. A lack of persistent and well-organized menu systems left Business Partners without a true understanding of site structure and hierarchy. Without an easy-to-navigate high-level partner site menu, Business Partners were wasting valuable time searching instead of networking or reselling products and services. Eliminating obstacles for users allows them to fulfill their partnership roles by making valuable information and resources appear in persistent, consistently well-organized menus on every page, site-wide.
Creating a seamless user experience that brings lasting engagement
Usability friction was causing higher abandonment rates, prolonging the ROI of PartnerWorld for IBM. Identifying usability problems and removing roadblocks helped Partners complete onboarding faster. They were able to take advantage of selling and networking tools in less time, accelerating ROI for both Partners and IBM.
To gain a better understanding of Business Partner needs, Somnio led in-person Business Partner interviews and card-sorting exercises at the PartnerWorld Leadership Conference. We also conducted a design thinking workshop with IBM stakeholders and subject-matter experts, surveyed users, analyzed user behavior through click data, heatmaps and user recordings (via online usage tools such as Coremetrics and Hotjar), completed a competitor analysis and explored usability best practices for large-scale websites.
Based on partner usage patterns, strategic pages were identified and redesigned to provide a consistent brand experience:
- Public microsite creation – 11 pages designed
- Welcome home page
- Program benefit pages
- Target audience pages for System Integrators, Resellers, and ISVs
Based on competitive research and SEO best practices, a public microsite was created to promote partnering with IBM, as well as to market existing partners and their solutions to potential clients
- Member portal – 30+ gated pages redesigned
- Critical program-level pages redesigned
- Improved overall site taxonomy
- Reduced and refined unique pages from 175,000 to 50,000
A stylized style guide
Somnio concepted, designed and developed a digital style and pattern guide for the IBM PartnerWorld digital experience. The guide gives internal content creators and designers direction on how to correctly represent the PartnerWorld brand.
The outcome was improved consistency between the public and member experiences and beyond other PartnerWorld tools and communication.
The value of Value Package wasn’t being shared with partners
The true value of the Value Package was being watered down by the numerous other elements of PartnerWorld. PartnerWorld was having difficulty communicating the value of Value Package, PartnerWorld needed to show partners this subscription service was a lot more than just a yearly payment. PartnerWorld had to showcase Value Package as a plethora of untapped partner resources that enabled partners to better succeed by providing a sandbox of extra tools and incentives.
Educate your partners on benefits they could be missing out on
Grow adoption of Value Package and Software Access Option by spotlighting the competitive value Business Partners gain within long-term and short-term attainment through the subscription-based service. In order to do so, Somnio and IBM created an automated email program targeted to specific audiences to communicate the five pillars through a messaging framework that was then the guardrails for the automated email campaign. In addition, we create new custom landing pages that separated Value Package vs. Software Access Option so users could choose the offering best suited to their business needs.
A mutually beneficial subscription service
Value Package is a critical element of the PartnerWorld ecosystem as it provides “unmatched domain expertise” to Business Partners. Somnio created an email campaign along with landing pages and social promotions to communicate that Value Package is the only exclusive suite of resources that reimburses your achievement, gives back as partners grow, offers reimbursement, and offers a price-first user experience.
The Partner Ecosystem
PartnerWorld needed to create a better platform and experience for partners to connect with each other, creating organic growth throughout the organization. The existing platform needed to be modernized and adapt both UX/UI to the changing needs of the program. Networking is an extremely vital aspect of partner programs making the platform partners use to network even more important.
PartnerWorld needed to focus entirely on the user experience of each partner. Why do partners use these tools? How do partners use these tools differently? The UX/UI was to be adapted depending on the type, tier, region, and role of each partner. Focusing on each individual user ensures the program tools will work to serve all partners.
All of the new PartnerWorld tools were uniformly built to provide a similar experience leading partners not to notice they are using entirely different tools. A similar UX experience for the plethora of tools allows partners using new tools to already have familiarity with the interface. The iterative yet sleek design of PartnerWorld tools provided a seamless experience for partners, no matter the program
Partners require a solid networking foundation that enables the sharing of information and technology. Partner directories must be routinely updated and distributed so partners can receive maximum networking benefits. Keeping partners connected helps keep them prepared and motivated to sell, service, and build.
We worked to develop and design the first PartnerWorld Console where partners could view their current status and next steps to take within the program. Since the launch of the PartnerWorld Console, we’ve done a full re-skin by updating it to the latest IBM Carbon design system. We also examined the overall UX, leading to a redesign after taking a deeper dive into how exactly partners were interacting with PartnerWorld Console.
Business Partner Connect
The new Business Partner Connect allowed for simple and fast partner collaboration so partners could multiply their opportunities with access to an extensive partner network designed to help build new relationships. Business Partner Connect was built to ensure partners could pair with the right partners who complimented or enhanced their abilities. From immediate needs to long-term strategic partnerships, Business Partner Connect uses AI-driven matching technology to accelerate collaboration and help partners grow their business.
Partner Ecosystem 2.0
Although PartnerWorld improvements are ongoing, the dramatic enhancements instilled within the PartnerWorld landscape have set new standards for partner programs everywhere. PartnerWorld seeks to disrupt industries and emerge as market leaders by striving growth, enabling innovation, and delivering value. The future of Business Partner Connect 2.0 holds even more innovative AI matching technology. PartnerWorld has undergone massive improvements and even more benefits, opportunities, and passive revenue generation is sure to come.