Abacus e-Media case study
BD (Building Design) magazine is a weekly newspaper for architects, published by CMPi.
Plans to change Building Design started in the summer of 2006: the magazine was to be redesigned to present a more contemporary image and a new website would go hand in hand with this.
The existing website was simply an online version of the printed newspaper. The home page comprised a rolling list of stories, updated by CMPi’s technical team, whilst navigation allowed visitors to move between different sections but provided no means of navigating editorial content.
Zoe Blackler, Features Editor at BD, said “Every time I wanted to introduce something new to the site, I had to get a new template created by the technical team. Trying to make the website content different from the magazine was virtually impossible.”
London-based online publishing specialist, Abacus e-Media (a member of the Bond International Software Group) had already developed new templates for the website of BD’s sister paper, Building, and the decision was taken to use these to ensure some commonality of branding for publications within the CMPi Builder Group.
A fundamental aim of the new site was to provide BD with the flexibility to change the design of the pages quickly and easily. Zoe Blackler: “I was keen to be able to mix up content from the newspaper with that created for online and by repackaging it, develop the website as an entirely new product”
A more vibrant and interactive website would also support BD’s recruitment advertising revenues, which form an important part of the publication’s income.
The new website (bdonline.co.uk), based on the company’s multichannel publishing product, Webvision, went live in February 2007, incorporating a number of new features which would have been impossible on the old site.
A ‘readers classified section’ allows architects to advertise any goods or property they have for sale free of charge. This new feature has contributed significantly to the level of traffic to the site, as well as proving a huge success with BD readers.
Podcasts of cultural events and interviews have also proved very popular and the BD site now ranks in the top ten design-related podcasts in the country, according to recent polls.
Competitions and the opportunity to vote on issues demonstrate the new levels of interactivity within the site, whilst the comments section is now much easier to find and to contribute to.
A weekly newsletter combines content from the magazine and from the website, and a Sunday night email provides a round-up of news from the Sunday papers.
Not surprisingly for a design magazine, pictures play an important role in the content for both the newspaper and the website. Webvision enables Zoe Blackler and her team to organise their use of pictures in an extremely flexible manner.
This includes the ability to include large pictures across an entire web page, as well as a variety of ‘index pictures’ with teaser headlines to the main story.
The new website launched in February 2007 and the growth in traffic since then has been both spectacular and sustained.
The previous site attracted from 11,000 to 16,000 visitors each month; following the launch of the new site, this figure rose to 23,000 and in March 2007 reached 34,000. The year on year increase for BD and the associated jobs site, BD4Jobs, is 175 per cent.
Zoe Blackler, said “My primary objective has been to build traffic to the new site, and this has certainly been a great success.
“Webvision has given me the flexibility that I was hoping for. As an example, I use the ‘spin blocks’ facility which allows me to create a story and simply direct it to all the places on the site where I want it to appear.
She added, “Webvision is also great for features, where I can package together editorial, case studies, comment and an opinion piece beneath an all-embracing headline, and insert all the relevant pictures.
“It’s fast and easy to use, and allows me to bring a completely new look and feel to existing content."
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