SOURCE: EffectiveUI


April 28, 2011 10:30 ET

EffectiveUI Helps Blue Angels Bring Fans and Recruits Into the Cockpit

HTML5, Microsoft Silverlight and Motion Graphics Make the Online Experience Engaging, Accessible

DENVER, CO--(Marketwire - Apr 28, 2011) -

News Facts

  • EffectiveUI announces the launch of a new interactive website created with Microsoft Corp. for the Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels
  • HTML5 and Microsoft Silverlight™ deliver an immersive user experience (UX), bringing viewers a Blue Angels air show in a way that's never before been seen except by the pilots
  • The Blue Angels website gives the U.S. Navy and Marines the ability to create compelling, effective content that reaches a wide audience at a low cost

Drawing a Crowd
An organization created to showcase naval air power and increase morale among its officers, the U.S. Navy Blue Angels now serve to recruit new service men and women in the Navy and Marine Corps. The organization saw a need to evolve the way they interact with new recruits and to reach them where they are -- online. The Blue Angels collaborated with EffectiveUI and Microsoft to provide a powerful, engaging experience that taps into the excitement of a Blue Angels flight demonstration, but goes a step further to offer a unique perspective on the show itself -- previously seen only through the pilot's eyes.

The website will allow the Blue Angels to more effectively achieve recruitment goals with a presence that engages and informs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Prospective recruits, fans and enthusiasts can go in-depth on the organization's history, its team, the operations and the jets themselves. The immersive site also brings them inside the cockpit and gives them control over the aspects of the air show they see and how they see them.

Through the newly redesigned site, the Blue Angels aimed to:
1. Recruit new service men and women
2. Inspire existing service men and women by setting an example of precision and pride
3. Instill a sense of patriotism among the general public

"The Blue Angels are excited to launch a new, state-of-the-art website that will allow us to more effectively accomplish our mission of enhancing Navy recruiting and credibly representing Navy and Marine Corps aviation to the United States and its Armed Forces," said LT Katie Kelly, U.S. Navy Blue Angels.

Inside the Cockpit: A Captivating Experience
When deciding to create a new site, the Blue Angels wanted to capture the intensity of the organization, as well as the precision and accuracy that goes into flying the F/A-18 Hornet and C-130 Hercules. Each year, more than fourteen million spectators watch the Blue Angels perform at air shows across the country. Now, far more can witness their thrilling flight demonstrations from the perspective that, until now, has only been available to the pilots themselves.

Since the home page makes the first impression on every visitor -- regardless of platform or device -- the team employed HTML5 with dynamic content and social media integrated via ASP.NET, while Canvas and jQuery provided the structure for the site's main navigation. The performance of this content is optimized with Windows Internet Explorer 9, particularly with regard to animating the user interface over a large, high-quality video.

Within the site, a section titled "Inside the Demo" includes high resolution, interactive video that brings viewers right into the cockpit with the Blue Angels squadron. The site features footage of the Blue Angels performing 37 different maneuvers, giving viewers an inside perspective of what it's like to be part of this elite demonstration team. Three different camera angles are shown for each maneuver, and users are able to select and switch camera angles in real time. This unique interaction was made possible with Microsoft Silverlight and Internet Information Services (IIS) Smooth Streaming technology.

Telling the complete story of the Blue Angels organization, the site also includes an interactive, 360-degree view of the F/A-18 Hornet and the C-130 Hercules. The user can spin the aircraft for a full, up-close view and learn about the aircraft's specifications, configurations and the various modifications the team makes to the jets.

To meet its goal of providing a hub for recruiting and enlisting, the site provides easy access to information on applying to the Blue Angels squadron, as well as general enlisting information for the Navy and Marine Corps.

"It's inspiring to see government agencies taking user experience seriously," said Anthony Franco, president, EffectiveUI. "The Blue Angels invoke great emotion through their air shows -- by successfully translating that experience online and using a wide-encompassing technology, the organization will be able to reach many more people in a truly engaging way."

The Right Technology Guides the Experience
In order to create the most engaging experience to reach the widest number of people, platforms and devices, the site was built in HTML5 with Canvas and jQuery, and optimized for Internet Explorer 9. Silverlight and IIS Smooth Streaming provided a seamless HD video playback experience that significantly reduces the need for buffering and dynamically adjusts to provide the best possible quality based on the viewer's connection speed. This combination of technologies allowed the EffectiveUI and Microsoft teams to push the performance of the site to a high level.

Using the Silverlight technology with HTML5 also allowed for an accessible website for persons with disabilities, which is critical for this government entity. The site was built using Microsoft ASP.NET technology making it easy to maintain and leaving the Blue Angels organization to focus on the goals of the site, not site maintenance.

The site also integrates with Bing Maps, giving viewers a bird's-eye view of air show locations and dates. "When we first engaged in this project, we knew we had to collaborate with a team that really understood emotive user experience, as well as Microsoft technologies and how to use them to create a technically precise and inspiring website for the Blue Angels," said Mike Downey, principal evangelist, Platform Evangelism, Microsoft. "The EffectiveUI team rolled up their sleeves and created an immersive, high-performance site that delivers the same adrenaline you get from a live air show."

Supporting Resources

About EffectiveUI
Founded in 2005, EffectiveUI is a user experience agency that creates custom Web, desktop, mobile and touch-enabled applications. Our expertise in customer insight, strategy, design and development helps companies improve their digital interactions with customers. Some of today's top brands, including Boeing, TIAA-CREF, AAA, National Geographic, eBay, GE Health, Navy Federal Credit Union, Qwest Communications and American Greetings, have worked with EffectiveUI to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty through digital experiences. Inc. magazine has named EffectiveUI to its annual list of America's fastest growing private companies -- the Inc. 500 -- for two consecutive years.