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Responses by Lola Leneveu and Cyril Schmitt, cofounders, åbility.

Background: OneOceanScience, a global digital experience created by French oceanographic institution Institut Français de Recherche pour l’Exploitation de la Mer (IFREMER), aims to increase awareness of the crucial role of ocean science in the fight against climate change. The ocean covers 70 percent of our blue planet—just as our body is composed of 70 percent water—and it absorbs 25 percent of our carbon dioxide. The ocean feeds us and transports us. One way or another, we are the ocean! That’s why 37 science organizations from all around the world participated in OneOceanScience ahead of the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow.

Larger picture: The website is the flagship of the event comprising a worldwide social media campaign by PR firm La Netscouade and a manifesto movie created by production company Adorable.

Design core: The most critical point for us was to make sure people understood that OneOceanScience was an international campaign and that its subject concerns us all. We decided to greet users in every language of all the countries participating in the campaign as a sign of unity. Different places, different cultures, different languages—but a unique voice claiming ocean science is important.

The interactive 3-D planet sits at the center of our design. It follows users during their navigation and shows the many challenges scientists address in different parts of the globe.

The 37 science organizations behind OneOceanScience have a reasonable place on the interface, but we tried not to fall into the abyss of creating another institutional website. We don’t have the 37 logos spreading their distinct brand identities throughout the screens; instead, the mention of the main organizers is quite humble and discrete. It challenged us, but we wanted to keep focused on the topic and nothing else.

Special navigation features: Immersive websites are a treat on desktop but can be tricky to use on mobile. That’s why we adapted the navigation so that mobile users could still enjoy an immersive interface and experience. We changed the site from a vertical to a horizontal scroll to let the planet spin as users go through the list of videos.

Favorite details: We had the chance to have great guests on the project, such as International Space Station commander Thomas Pesquet, who shot an amazing video from space just for us. How crazy is that? His unique point of view on the ocean proved to be a great asset to the campaign. Also, US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry kindly proposed to pay tribute to our initiative and spread the word before COP26. You don’t have this kind of content on every website you design.

For us, the biggest point of pride is always the outcome. Creating a good website with interesting video content is quite cool, but it’s just not enough when you invest yourself and your company in such a project. The overall operation would have been an epic fail if no one had visited the platform, saw our videos or shared our content. Just two weeks after launching OneOceanScience, we reached more than 9 million people worldwide, got 15 million prints on social media and had 2.5 million views on our science videos—way beyond the expectations of IFREMER and with a restricted budget.

New lessons: Websites for events like this are always a challenge for both time and money, and to be honest, we are very picky when choosing these types of projects. To give some context, we had two months to create a global identity and design an impactful website. These constraints imply two things for your team and your design organization: First, you need to be agile, available and able to adapt quickly to the different moments and levels of stress felt by the team and the stakeholders. Second, this project falls into the category where you should be invested in the subject. You have to believe in the cause and what it stands for. You need to be ready to go the extra mile, because hey, you’ll think it’s worth it.

One final takeaway: When you think your work is validated, you can be sure it’s not. Changes can occur any time before and after the big launch.


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