U.S. Naval Institute

Founded in 1873, the U.S. Naval Institute is the independent forum for those who dare to read, think, speak, and write in order to advance the professional, literary, and scientific understanding of sea power and other issues critical to global security. Your membership ensures that the Naval Institute carries on its vital mission as The Independent Forum of the Sea Services—a place where free and independent debate may flourish.

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Need to Increase Member Engagement

The U.S. Naval Institute (USNI) website is vital to the organization and its members. USNI provides an open forum where members debate key issues and also publishes a monthly journal, daily news, a blog, a newsletter, and a magazine. USNI is also home to the Naval Institute Press, which is the organization’s book publishing arm. 

USNI needed to enhance their website to improve the user experience and develop better processes to manage and publish content. The organization was losing time and money on inefficient methods and old technology that were central to their commitment to engage its membership. To further elevate engagement, USNI also wanted to give members more control over their account information and their inputs. 

Estimated annual savings through digital processes
Increase in the number of member updates  
Second load times 

Structure Through Digital Technology

When USNI came to Unleashed, they were manually correlating articles across all their publications.  This activity was particularly challenging because different departments were responsible for managing their own content, and there was not a mutually agreed upon taxonomy around how to organize content. 

Additionally, as with many members-based organizations, USNI was challenged with keeping its records up to date. The process of manually updating their disparate databases took hundreds of hours a year and impacted data accuracy. 

USNI also had the unique challenge of having to suddenly, large spikes in traffic. USNI articles are often posted to other sites, which can generate unexpected traffic spikes that can negatively impact site load times and user experience.


Developing Meaningful Objectives

After a thorough initial discovery, we created metrics and goals to measure the success of the new site. We also outlined website features to help USNI achieve those goals.  Overall, we decided that the site was required to deliver: 

  • An engaging, mobile-friendly design to give its tech-savvy users a variety of ways to explore the USNI’s content 
  • Granular control over website content, including article placement, photo galleries, and content correlation across departments 
  • Superior search capabilities to deliver targeted content to its members 
  • A flexible advertising solution with the ability to serve third-party ads 
  • Site optimization for high-performance availability to maintain great load speeds with 1,200 to 1,500 concurrent users 
  • Event registration functionality that was custom to the unique requirements of USNI and its members 
  • Integration into membership databases and USNI’s ERP system 
  • An e-commerce solution to support member registration and the online sale of photographic prints 
  • Integration of the Disqus commenting platform
USNI Case Study

ROI and Operational Efficiencies

With the launch of the site, USNI saw a rapid return on investment for the website, but also improved operational processes and elevated is position as a thought leader through increase visitor engagement. Successes include:

  • Eased content management with a simplified management process to engage multiple departments 
  • Increased web engagement through intuitive, mobile design, social enablement, and information architecture 
  • Log-in capabilities for members to empower them to self-administer their profiles, keeping their information updated at all times 
  • Integrated systems to eliminate manual updates of member information, saving an estimated $50,000 and resulting in a 400-percent increase in the number of updates made each year 
  • Improved revenue opportunity with a robust advertising platform 
  • Sustained sub-two second load times even during spikes of 2,200 to 2,500 concurrent visitors over several hours 


Always in Motion, Always Improving

Like with many Unleashed’ clients, the project for USNI is just part of a long-term relationship. Through our Growth Model, we are always aligning with USNI to ensure the website is delivering on the organization’s goals and objectives. Those ongoing analysis and updating includes elevating website performance and expanding e-commerce.

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