Background: “Through a curated collection of articles, videos, releases and playlists, pias.com acts as a platform to directly share our collective—and sometimes exclusive—stories to fans and customers,” says Annelise Keestra, “shifting our company’s digital presence to a business-to-consumer standpoint. A content-driven editorial site for a global brand—as opposed to a label’s site—targeted towards music lovers, crate diggers, fans, and hopefully our partners and future collaborators.
“While putting forward the global aura of [PIAS] in the editorial line, the site also celebrates the local favorites and our staff’s voices with the jolly What’s On Where (WOW),” Keestra continues. “The site aims to be the point of reference for the latest insights on our ecosystem of labels and artists, promoting new releases as well as editorial crossovers and exclusive pieces that become integral parts of artist’s campaigns. The site is a key component of our digital presence, and we hope it will consolidate our global voice and bring awareness about what we do, who we are and what we stand for.”
Design core: “Borrowing from the identity markers established for our socials, the website presents a bold, loud visual aesthetic,” Keestra says. “Short animations at each page load place emphasis on the brackets in [PIAS]. Moreover, the flipped text layout on titles and menus is directly inspired by the axial symmetry of the said brackets. Black and white predominates the site per the brand identity, but colors are introduced and dotted throughout to add vivacity and identify content categories. The homepage is also a key feature of the site, as it gives an instant taste of the latest in one scroll. Each of the sections has its own animation on hover detail that make it special.”
Favorite details: “I love the WOW in its own little corner of the site at all times,” says Keestra. “It’s a playful addition to the main global curation. The scrolling list of countries, six of which appear randomly on page load, is probably one of my favorite details. I love the way it stops scrolling on hover—I played with that a lot! Once on a local staff pick, it simplifies to just be about the pick: the artist, the video, the product and the song. No distraction, but a simple call to action should you want to listen, watch, read or discover.
“Antony Pradin at Contemple added the little extra details throughout the site,” Keestra continues. “The hover interactions, the round image slider animation that keeps the visual identity looking geometric, the way long titles appear when scrolling down the page, the horizontal scroll of the records as visitors go down the page—we wanted the site to feel visually driven and playful, and we are so proud of the way the site looks now.”
Challenges: “Making sure our site would represent and position [PIAS] in the best way,” says Keestra. “Making sure the site gives an insightful snapshot of what we’re up to. Building a unique voice not only through content but through a strong visual identity as well. And making sure that visitors got something out of every visit, whether it be long or short. The way the site is designed plays with our visual identity but also puts forward and pays with the diverse musicians we produce and represent. Elements like the randomizer either directs fans to content they may be interested in or lets them take a step back and drive through random suggestions. We have such a diverse roster and way of operating that it’s always been a challenge for us to have a clear brand position.”
Time constraints: “We originally had the ambition to launch the site in summer, but putting the contents together was longer than anticipated. I was amazed by how quickly Antony Pradin at Contemple worked and facilitated our ideas and needs. It took us longer to gather contents than it did to design the site. Following our newly refreshed brand guidelines and exhaustive list of visual references, we very rapidly agreed on the look and feel, and I believe we didn’t have to make too many compromises.”
Navigation structure: “The website is structured through content pillars: news (short- and long-form stories, mainly text-driven), events, videos, playlists, and external links to store and the label services website. The homepage is designed to give an instant taste of the latest. The site’s navigation is straightforward, but it is also playfully designed to allow people to find content they could be interested in through curation or discover through randomness. For example, as you scroll to the end of each news item, you are taken to another one with seconds. The same navigation parameter applies at the end of each local WOW.”