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Tim Klauda, art director
Palmer Pettersen, writer
Jon McVey/Steve Sandstrom, Sandstrom Design, creative directors
Susan Campbell, information architect
Jud Holliday/Cole Peterson/J.C. Vieth, developers
Mark Hooper/Polara Studio, Sandstrom Design, photographers
Mark Yeend, sound designer
Jill Raleigh/Whitney Zaring, Sandstrom Design, project managers
ZAAZ, project design and development
Tazo Tea, client

"An elegant site with beautiful photography, design and typography. But this site also has personality with its funky expanding menu, playful animated details, ethnic music and, my personal favorite, a Tea Leaf Oracle whose creepy eyes follow the mouse." —juror Lou Kinard

"The design and content take you to a place so completely tea and so incompletely typical marketing." —juror Todd Purgason

Overview: This online brand experience for Tazo Tea combines fun, commerce and education in a single, witty package. Clever text greets users at every turn, whether they're consulting a tea leaf reader or searching for the perfect cup for any mood.

• 100 SWF files
• 35-45K visitors per month
• 25% of visitors use the tea leaf reader
• 44 products featured

Comments by Tim Klauda and Jon McVey:
"This was great opportunity for us to bring to life the things that we'd always loved about the Tazo brand (its authenticity, sense of ritual and quirky humor) that previously only existed through packaging and point-of-sale. By adding interaction, sound and motion we knew we could add another dimension.

"By far the most inspirational part of the experience was a tea tasting that the team went through prior to beginning work, led by tea master and Tazo founder Steve Smith. That immersion inspired the entire site build: It became our goal to keep the site experience as close to the real thing as possible. Essentially, we wanted the online customer experience to be the next best thing to enjoying an actual cup of tea.

"A large part of the design was finding a way to organize all the information so it wouldn't be overwhelming, but the biggest challenge we faced was designing for multiple senses, including taste and smell, when of course site visitors would only have one. We accomplished it visually through the implication that the tea is prepared off-screen and served from the perspective of someone about to drink it. Steam rises, the tea looks hot and invites users to read the accompanying aroma and flavor profiles. If we could've piped aroma through the monitor we would have.

"Aside from being experiential, the site's primary business goal was to help create awareness of the number of products Tazo creates. Most consumers are only aware of the bagged teas and have no idea that Tazo sells full leaf teas, tea lattes and bottled teas and juices. Our solution was the Wheel-o-Tazo that presents each of the four types of tea and supports one-click access to any tea detail information. It's been a bigger success than we'd anticipated; it's driving an equal amount of traffic to all four categories of tea, so we know we're successful in our goal of educating consumers about the variety of products.

"Most importantly, one in every five visitors consults the tea leaves, so we know people are leaving Tazo.com much wiser."


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