Lenka Krpatova joined Havas on Bastille Day in 2010 as European Information Officer, a very significant date! Based in Prague she was initially responsible for supporting the new business efforts of all of our agencies in Europe, helping them to access the skills and expertise around Havas to grow their business. She then joined Christian de la Villehuchet, Global Chief Integration Officer, in the role of Global Integration Manager, working across the Havas network to welcome and support our growing number of affiliate agencies, becoming an expert in finding solutions to a huge range of challenges.
Her former experience as Information Officer, her pragmatic approach to managing global projects plus her extensive connections within the Havas network (she literally knows everybody) meant that Lenka was the obvious choice to lead the Agora redesign project. Hear more about the new Agora from Lenka and Christian in Dare!.
What is Agora? What is the meaning behind the word?
The word “agora” derives from the ancient Greek term ageirein, meaning ‘to gather together’. It was a place where people gathered to exchange information and news. The agora was a crucial component of all Greek villages and towns and is the ideal name for the virtual ‘gathering place’ for our Havas villagers. It perfectly describes how this platform connects our more than 23,000 colleagues – giving everyone access to thousands of documents, network assets, work, case studies, research, tools, and more. Our Agora provides the most meaningful content available across a huge number of categories, via an intuitive and seamless user experience. Agora makes the Havas Global Village a tangible reality.
Why has Agora been revamped?
Agora was first created as the Havas knowledge platform in 2016 taking over various pre-existing tools that were developed when available technologies were very different. We wanted to make the new version much more intuitive, less complicated, and more interactive. Our goal has been to bring more users to the personalised platform with more meaningful content and with better CX. This is why we’ve spent a lot of time simplifying the design, developing our search functionality, and setting up the Forum, where people can exchange questions and ideas in open discussion. We want to encourage our users to visit more often, share more and to engage with their colleagues across the network.
We have moved from a community driven, siloed platform to a simpler search-based organisation of assets in a collaborative environment where everyone can comment and contribute.
What were the biggest obstacles during the revamp process? What did you learn from them?
The obstacles we hit weren’t what we expected – we thought that there would be a load of debate around both the structure and the design, it was so different from the current platform, but all our stakeholders were quickly onboard with our simplified structure, which was signed-off on pretty quickly. Likewise, with the design stage, which the team in Havas Prague absolutely nailed, along with help from our team in Havas Ukraine.
But when it came down to the detail it was much more difficult. We wanted to be absolutely sure that the UX worked well for everyone – whatever job they did, whichever country they came from, whatever they were looking for. So, we spent weeks deciding on headings, descriptions, copy and content and very quickly found out that people only know what they want when they see what they don’t like, which won’t be news to any of the design teams or copywriters reading this!
Despite the need to move fast and agree on design decisions, it was super important to the team to make sure that everyone involved in the decision-making process was heard, which took a lot more time than expected as we juggled time zones and workloads. Another issue was that no-one on the current team was around when the previous version was developed, so we didn’t know what we didn’t know when it came to fine detail, but it also gave us the freedom to be more innovative. So, maybe this was actually an advantage, even though it didn’t seem like it at the time!
We were very nearly derailed only a few weeks before we launched when we discovered that there was a problem with our logo, which we’d selected very early on in the design process and was now on every screen, every document and every how-to video across the platform. However, by this point in the project we’d developed so well as a team that a new version was selected, approved and installed in time for our launch, although it caused us a few sleepless nights as we contemplated the awful prospect of delaying our launch.
Which teams collaborated on the project?
Many people across Havas have been involved in delivering the new Agora.
- The Agora project and development team is based in our Madrid village
- Our design and video production team is from our village in Prague
- We called upon the expertise of our design and image production team in Kyiv to design the logo and the visual territory
- The Agora Board consists of Havas colleagues from different operational units across the network such as new business teams in Media, Creative, Health, global strategy teams and global communication teams
- Agora Ambassadors are active representatives from different regions and countries who have been selected as champions to promote our new platform amongst their own regional teams
What are some of the highlights of the new Agora?
In addition to completely changing the look and feel of Agora, which we think is fresh and contemporary, we have focused on the following areas:
Design – we restructured and redesigned the platform for better navigation, moving from multiple subdivisions to just six clear sections: News & Comms, Havas Info, The Work, Applications, Forum and My Collections.
Search – we have developed a hugely improved search function using Azure Cognitive Search for content recognition, this will make search much easier, especially if everyone remembers to tag their content!
Forum – collaboration is key to our success as a global Village, and in the Forum section our users can ask questions, start debates, share content, and join in conversations with colleagues across the network. The more we engage with each other, the more we learn, and develop as a community – better together.
Intelligent personalised content – every time you interact with Agora it will learn more about your interests and specialisms and will serve up personalised content suggestions based on these, notifying you when new content is available.
Organic growth – You’d think that the project team would want to take a little time out to breathe so you might be surprised to hear that less than a week after launching Agora they’ve already set up a meeting to discuss more functionality! Our intention is that Agora will be continually adapted and developed as we use analytics to learn how our users interact with the content and with each other, getting feedback and suggestions. We already have a list of features we want to develop – the launch was just the start of the journey!
If you’re interested in learning how to use Agora then check out these short ‘how to’ videos (tutorials):