Everyone was buoyed up with optimism – The digital world was off the starting blocks and developing at breathtaking speed. In 1989, the term “communication” gained an entirely new dimension against the background of increasing commercial use of the internet. Everyone was curious, waiting for the upcoming changes in keen anticipation and trying to acquire the basic knowledge and skills, so as not to miss out on this new era. But there were no training or degree courses teaching the new subject “internet”. And so Sabine Kolbe-Weber, back then a media designer at Krones, had to teach herself and within next to no time learned all there was to know about HTML. Shortly after that, in 1996, the first Krones website came into being – with information on our products, a traditional guestbook and details on how to contact the company by email, another freshly emerging communication channel.
“We just did it”, says Sabine Kolbe-Weber, today Head of Digital Solutions in the Corporate Communications Department, when asked how Krones jumped on the internet bandwagon in the mid-1990s. She vividly remembers the days when the internet was attracting increasing interest and the first websites sprung up like mushrooms. Back then, she quickly realised: We definitely need a website, too. And this is how the first Krones homepage came into being – in the traditional outfit with its own guestbook.
Website progress over the past 25 years
So, in a solo effort she set the strategic agenda for the vast majority of the digital channels created over recent decades. Krones is meanwhile running not only the main website krones.com but also around ten websites of subsidiaries, plus microsites dealing with special subjects, like craftbrewing.krones.com and the recently launched Krones magazine. “Today, it would be downright impossible for a single person to maintain and update the Krones website and at the same time keep moving it forward – for all of that you need a can-do team whose members dovetail neatly and support each other at need,” emphasises Sabine Kolbe-Weber. That is why her Digital Solutions team is looking after all of Krones’ websites.
One relaunch after another
As the internet evolved, more and more technical and design options emerged for editing digital content and networking with users. To enable more than one team member to work on contents simultaneously, a Content Management System, or CMS for short, was introduced back in 2002.
However, all sections within Corporate Communications work together on drawing up the concept and strategy for our digital channels, with each section contributing innovative ideas and expertise. While the editors are writing all sorts of text, for example, some other CC colleagues produce top-quality content like photos, moving images and animations. The web developers at Digital Solutions create both front end and back end – in other words, they make sure the website is properly staged – and UX experts work on the screen design, also referred to as user experience (UX). The website’s development process is rounded off by continuous monitoring and search engine optimisation. All the teams intermesh like gearwheels, creating a joint harmonious whole: our Krones websites.
Award-winning unique design system
The core team at Digital Solutions handles website maintenance on a daily basis – and our unique screen design, too. Anyone clicking through the various websites of the Krones Group will soon realise that they all come from the same background. In 2019, Sabine Kolbe-Weber’s team introduced a modular design system that applies throughout the company, thus standardising the layout of all the group’s websites. So every platform possesses a globally harmonised design with similar navigation and a consistent information architecture – a big advantage because that makes it easy for users to find their way around each of the various websites. But the Krones design system enables the team not only to maintain and update existing websites on a daily basis, but also to launch new ones in no time at all, without great cost and effort, thanks to the development of a flexible modular system.
And it was worth all the effort: In 2019, the Krones design system won the German Design Award – one of the world’s most prestigious competitions!
The internet never sleeps
Not a day passes by without a new feature or a new technical development emerging – So it is important to stay on the ball, to keep learning. Things that you used to program yourself nowadays require the expertise of trained specialists. “What’s important for us is to ensure that users find the information they need quickly and easily. Our aim is to put in place a customer-focused, interactive website – with content that is based on object dependencies,” says Sabine Kolbe-Weber. We delved even deeper into the digital world when we transferred the Krones magazine, which used to be published in print, to the microsite Krones magazine, so that we can enter into a dialogue with you, our readers, on a daily basis and show you as much as possible of our Krones world.