THURSDAY 26 SEP 2019 3:32 PM


With an active online business selling bicycles around the world, German manufacturer Canyon needed a website in tune with its premium offer. Antonino Lupo reports on Canyon’s refreshed online experience

Challenge: Roman Arnold wants more people riding bikes. The CEO of Canyon has been a bike person for his entire life, and his love for the industry is directly tied to an underlying passion for the products he sells. As an online-only luxury retailer, however, Canyon must face fierce competition. In a market where just ‘selling bikes’ isn’t enough anymore, it is critical to present Canyon’s products in an engaging and differentiated way.

Following the evolution of the Canyon brand as a high-end bike retailer, the manufacturer needed a platform to match that identity, while providing tools to boost bike sales and increase checkouts.

When tasked with the Canyon website redesign, US-based agency Work & Co found a fully functional platform, albeit an outdated one lacking flexibility for modern features. The old website was still capable of selling enough to keep Canyon afloat, but it was difficult to update and incapable of providing the high-end luxury experience around which Canyon’s brand was positioned.

“All luxury brands are faced with a new form of consumer that doesn’t necessarily want to pay full price, and bike brands are no exception,” associate partner at Work & Co, Steve Kuhn, says. “When people are considering a bike from Canyon, they will typically come back to the website six to 10 times to examine the product before making a decision. The challenge that any luxury retailer has is the presentation of their product in a way that is befitting of the luxury experience, supporting them from an aesthetic and emotional perspective.” 

Work & Co’s design focused on an aesthetically pleasing, user-centred platform, which would feel modern and easy to navigate. The new website would be designed to support Canyon’s marketing operations, from landing pages to custom sections, in order to help the company benefit from time-limited offers and special events.

Strategy: The new website was not conceived of to appeal to high-end bike professionals and riders alone; keeping in mind Arnold’s wish to get more people into cycling, Work & Co designed a platform aimed at both hardcore bikers and beginners, looking to broaden the potential pool of Canyon users and make more people passionate about bikes.

Defining clear goals and KPIs was key to the success of the project, which led Canyon and Work & Co to develop a close collaborative relationship from day one. To overcome the transoceanic distance between the two organisations, Work & Co quickly set up a Slack channel to encourage near-continuous, casual communication, in order to break the illusionary wall between the agency and its client. 

There were a few unexpected surprises and challenges to the project’s success. First, Arnold wanted to communicate his passion for bikes to a female audience as well. Some of Canyon’s products are specifically designed to adapt to women’s physiques, and the website needed a specific section to highlight them, easy to navigate and explicitly called out on the platform. At the same time, Work & Co had to learn about the importance of bike sizing to the business. In order to reduce the rate of expensive product returns, the agency had to conceive and implement bike sizing mechanics into the navigational flow, to help customers size themselves for a product without letting the process block a potential purchase.

Keeping an eye on the visual requirements of the project was a key factor to the website’s success, a principle fully supported by the digital agency’s creative workflow. Kuhn adds, “In order to differentiate as an e-commerce retailer, but certainly as a high-end, luxury e-commerce retailer, you need to make sure you’re nailing that aesthetic experience as part of the entire process.” In order to meet Canyon’s expectations on the final product, the agency had to keep a balanced approach between aesthetics and functionalities in the early design phases, to provide a conscious equilibrium of features and visuals in the resulting website.

Extensive user testing sessions were necessary to ensure consistency across all stages, as well as to identify flaws in the design and concept, allowing the agency to fix them before online implementation.

Results: Despite having to ride on a path brimmed with challenges, Work & Co’s project has led to an array of positive results for the German manufacturer. The new website is vibrant with character, and it is regularly used and updated by Canyon with time-sensitive sales or other marketing events. As a result, the company’s online presence is more prominent, more confident and provides a targeted experience for end users from all backgrounds.

Canyon’s refreshed online identity is reminiscent of the top luxury brands, such as Rolex, Yves Saint-Laurent, Chanel and Calvin Klein. Its conscious use of black and white conveys elegance and suggests a premium experience, with wide eye-catching images and bold typeface to capture the end user’s attention. The visualisation of each product is integrated within a navigational flow inviting the reader to dive in and explore, while enticing the eye with fading animations.

Through the power of digital and with conscious design, Canyon’s new brand experience is confident, contemporary and befitting the target audience, and it is sure to drive further positive results for the company in the near future.