Carving Its Global Impact: The One and Only Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory
It’s no wonder Forbes.com calls Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory “one of the greatest sports museums in the world.” From a Guiness Book of World Records-breaking Big Bat (the largest baseball bat across the globe) to their epic Bat Vault glimmering with over 3,000 original bat models, more than six million guests have made their way to interact with the museum’s behind-the-scenes stories.
There is nothing quite like the experience of stepping within Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. Guests can feel that live-action whirl of energy all around. Since the doors opened in 1996, each day, marvel is made inside the factory; where guests leave elated to hold history in their hands: their very own personalized souvenir bats, made right alongside baseball bats carved for Major Leaguers.
For the first time in nearly 15 years, Louisville’s premier attraction filled its museum with the dazzle of fresh renovations. It was time for the brand’s online space to zip with exciting strides too. Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory wanted a digital platform that could make it easy for any out-of-town guest, teacher, or event planner to find exactly what they needed; quickly and clearly.
“This was our first major website overhaul since 2016,” notes Andrew Soliday, Marketing Director at the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, recognizing just how “special and unique personalized Louisville Slugger bats are to everyone who receives one.” To the museum, this felt like a bright “opportunity — to really focus on how we build that experience; how we create that excitement on the online level.”
Fielding the Spin of Savvy Development: Lining Up a Website a Year in-the-Making
Honoring Louisville Slugger & Museum Factory’s depth of crowd-roaring history — all in a redesign that would feel like it’s moving at high-speed, accelerating a user’s journey anywhere they want to go — would be no minor league feat. For this website redesign to catch the attention of any future visitor, as if any user could walk right into the museum and factory’s winning action, the project would call for meticulous attention to detail; game-changing innovation; cutting-edge resources; and hand-in-glove collaboration.
A glimpse into the 3D modeling process — the magic spinning behind the most advanced bat customizer on the internet.
“We’ve talked to the museum’s team extensively, discussing core business insights with Andrew, Nick, and Ben throughout the process,” explains Back-End Developer at Hatfield Media, Mark Russ, who believes, “Understanding these crucial details, from what they sell to the time it takes to fulfill it, empowered us to facilitate smooth integration.”
It takes careful, brand-oriented strategy to deliver on a site made to “support new features Hatfield is bringing to BigCommerce;” all in a way that feels effective and efficient for the museum’s digital audience, explains Russ. Collaborating with the museum’s NetSuite team as well as partnering with BigCommerce, “we dove in to ensure: the museum would have the most robust platform.”
Ted Moso, Front-End Developer at Hatfield Media, shares that in order to do “the museum’s new website justice,” it would mean all hands on deck; for “a massive undertaking that took a year to complete.” Proud to “see just how far we can take development to new heights,” Moso expresses, “This project gave our team a chance to stretch our limits.”
Scoring a Moon Shot: Creating Big Bat-Worthy Design to Entice the Masses
From a brand perspective, Hatfield Media wanted to spin a fresh redesign that made content feel informative; navigation clear and user-friendly; with visuals that popped, bringing forth kinetic energy; as if a user could almost hear the crack of a bat on the field. “There is such opportunity for creativity with a website like Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory — unlike any we have ever built before,” shares Hatfield Media’s Senior Graphic Designer, Kaen Blevins.
“Starting with the menu, we envisioned something that could resemble the one and only Louisville Slugger baseball bat. Wanting to optimize every stretch of the homepage, we wanted the hero to feel dynamic; setting the scene to immediately draw the user into the iconic Big Bat that appears to be leaning against a building,” illuminates Blevins, who notes that with the impact of “an innovative design,” this site allows for a user to channel “the excitement of standing on the outside before heading in the doors” of the museum.
For a visitor wanting to quickly know where and when, Hatfield Media fired up a design that would feel “easily accessible,” explains Blevins; so that a user wouldn’t have to “search through the entire site” to pinpoint daily operations. “We wanted the website to feel as informative and intuitive as possible — all with a captivating and fresh, modern feel.”
Blevins believes, “As you make your way through the site, you’ll feel the difference of new media: designed to connect with users through rich storytelling; complete with eye-catching video and dynamic movement. This redesign strives to engage potential visitors throughout the user journey. We knew from the beginning: we wanted this site to hit a ‘home run;’ where each section would feel reflective of the museum’s immersive atmosphere.”
Hitting a Home Run in 3D: Landing the Most Epic Bat Customizer on the Internet
Before rolling out a knockout ecommerce revamp, first, Hatfield Media had an ambitious vision. Our team strove to create something revolutionary: the most advanced, real-time bat customizer the online world had ever seen. Blevins notes this was one of “the greatest challenges we faced;” delivering on a Custom Bat designer capable of swinging like a triple threat.
“We needed to build a design that could bring users the benefits of a simple, intuitive, and familiar experience. However, we didn’t want to sacrifice on providing the powerful tools and functionality needed to showcase the incredible custom bat selection that the Slugger Museum has to offer. This meant getting clever to conjure an outside the box solution capable of delivering both,” explains Blevins.
Motion Graphics Designer at Hatfield Media, Douglas Grillo, notes, “When we began this process, first, I worked with a 2D image that featured the silhouette of a baseball bat — a piece I used as reference to create the 3D modeling. Later, I searched to find the base wood texture. Crafting these elements, I wanted to infuse the imagery with realism, so both baseball bats would feel authentic.”
For Grillo, “This felt like an incredible opportunity for Hatfield Media to show what our team is capable of creating. Coming together through resourceful collaboration, it’s exciting to see just how creatively we’re able to tackle complex projects.”
Soliday believes, “This opens up our ability to market what is essentially a whole new product for us. Never before have we had the ability to give total customization to our customers.” Now, any user can visit Slugger Gifts and choose a myriad of options, designing their own unique handle and barrel colors, zooming in and out to slide any brand color they envision into place. Giving users the tools to “create exactly what they want,” building out their own souvenir bats on Slugger Gifts “is really remarkable,” says Soliday.
Striking a Grand Slam with Powerhouse Ecommerce Integration
In addition to pitching a contemporary spin for the museum’s website, our agency endeavored to elevate the brand’s ecommerce presence; unveiling enhanced new features. “Hatfield Media is proud to have built a brand-new, custom ecommerce platform,” says Blevins, who highlights, “Every piece — from the design to the data and the customer touchpoints throughout the shopping experience — had to be thought through carefully; designed with intention and created from scratch.”
Ray Tri, Director of Business Development at Hatfield Media, shares, “The new Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory website is the largest collaborative development project we have undertaken as an agency. We were able to work with the museum’s team to build a new website, on our modern content management and marketing system, that is natively integrated with BigCommerce's best-in-breed ecommerce platform. The possibilities this opens up for both the museum and Hatfield Media in terms of future capabilities is phenomenal.”
Sliding into the Future of Champions: This Web Presence Now Pitches Straight to its Users
Something Soliday never takes for granted: the elation of witnessing guests step inside as their “eyes light up” with joy; seeing guests having “an absolute blast coming into our museum.” After all, “so many have a connection to the sport. Inherently, when people experience the museum, they reconnect with those memories. Having those personalized bats to make memories is really exciting,” highlights Soliday.
Welcoming in decades of new memories in the making, users can experience the thrill of that excitement right on the museum’s new website. “I absolutely love how modern and contemporary and clean it feels,” says Soliday, who appreciates the sharp clarity of information that no longer feels “overwhelming.” Some of Soliday’s favorite features include the “slick photo galleries, definitely the animations you see while scrolling through the different pages; and of course, the bat customizer.”
“The Hatfield team has been fantastic. There’s really no other way to put it. Their level of expertise is the reason I went with them as our designer for this new site,” expresses Soliday, who shares, “The things that they managed to do in this period of time leading up to the launch — it’s just a really robust, thoughtful, knowledgeable, unbelievable team.”
Collaboration was integral to the success of this powerful redesign. For Tri, “There is no team I would rather have worked on this project with than the ones we had around the board — from our internal team, to our counterparts on the museum’s side, to our partners over at BigCommerce — this wouldn't have been achievable without that right group of people.”
Ahead of any guest’s next trip to visit the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, Soliday is eager that this new site can spark anticipation, winding up the rush of adventure. With the “ease of accessibility now that Slugger Gifts exists on the same website, having that all under one URL is going to show people from front to back what we’re all about at the Louisville Slugger Museum.”