Daimler : Tooling up history

An innovative timeline doesn't totally reinforce brand values.

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The feature

Daimler, Germany based vehicle maker, has produced a luxury version of its company timeline. Daimler presents coverage of its history in a sub-section of Company titled Tradition. The landing page features an interactive corporate history presented in a set of concentric rings to resemble a ‘time tunnel’. Years can be selected from a slider to the right that moves the user into the tunnel, with colour-coded blocks appearing in the ring that correspond with key events, The events can be filtered from a Categories link in a set of navigation options at bottom left; clicking the link opens a pop-up menu of 10 categories (for example, Innovations and Inventions, Product Highlight-Cars). The default setting is ‘show all’; selecting a category eliminates it from both the menu and the central display for the chosen year. Mousing over a key event marker reveals a date and headline; clicking launches an overlay panel with a full summary and, in many cases, image that can be added to a Bookmark folder. A free text Search tool is also included in the navigation aids.

The takeaway

Daimler has assembled an unusual and innovative twist on the standard corporate timeline that enables users to access an exceptional level of detail across a broad sweep of company activity. For example, four separate photographs are presented to illustrate the heading ‘Production of the Mercedes-Benz 320 as a bucket seat vehicle’. On the face of it the feature is an appropriate reflection of the stylish and highly engineered qualities on view in the manufacturer’s showrooms, but the actual experience ‘behind the wheel’ takes away some of the lustre. An immediate problem is the lack of driving instructions, which would be helpful given the novelty of the tool to show its scope and how to use it. While the date slide is intuitive enough to get users engaged, its separation from the navigation aids and filters works against users getting up to speed with the full range of timeline features. This can lead to an initial bafflement about the significance of the colour coding that is then compounded by the counter-intuitive Categories filter – most users would expect to select options rather than de-select them to isolate areas of interest. Still, it’s a mark 2 version, rather than a product recall, that is required to improve performance.

First published 07 March, 2013
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