Today, we’re delighted to announce the launch of our new publishing platform. The relaunched HRZone.com is our first site to be powered by the platform. Over the rest of the year, we’re be moving each of our B2B titles to the platform and releasing new functionality and products.
Thinking for the new publishing platform started 18 months ago. We’d recently migrated most of our publishing sites to Drupal 7, upgrading functionality and giving each site a design facelift. The process had been long and inefficient due to each site being built separately. At the end of the project, we had a mixed sense of emotions. Relieved to have finally migrated most of our sites to the latest version of Drupal. Frustrated that we still faced the challenge of having to manage and upgrade individual sites.
As a management team, we reviewed what we’d achieved and we felt something was missing. That something was designing our sites with our audiences truly in mind. How could we have used the migration project as an opportunity to focus on creating real value for our 750,000 members? The experience made us ask the questions that really needed to be answered.
Against the backdrop of this project, we started our journey to rethinking how we create real value for our audiences. We started by asking ourselves ‘how might we’:
- Create the content that people need?
- Build better experiences and services?
- Build better products?
- Measure the metrics that really matter?
- Add real value to our audiences?
These simple questions have inspired a major cultural shift in the way we operate. One of these areas is in the way we approach digital publishing. We took the decision to invest in creating a new publishing platform.
A new publishing platform
The decision to develop our own publishing platform created an opportunity to challenge the way we do things to make them better. It was a clean slate to reimagine how we might create amazing sites that inspire people. Where we can put our audience at the heart of our sites. Where we can offer products to our clients that meet their goals and support our audiences. We also started to think about our sites as a service. Sites that reflect the voices of our communities. Sites that people want to come back to again and again as the experience they receive is worth their investment.
Over the last year, we’ve been building the first phase of a new digital native publishing platform built on Drupal. We’ve focused on our audiences to provide an amazing user experience regardless of device used. We’ve been looking at how our audiences use our sites in their daily workflow to help us reimagine the way we inspire and engage people.
Creating a new digital infrastructure
We’ve taken an agile approach to developing our new publishing platform. Our focus over the last year has been to build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) of a publishing site that creates value for our audiences, clients and internal teams. Over the coming months we will be adding new functionality as we migrate all our sites.
The sheer scale of the project required key decisions to be made in many different areas (audience, products, commercial and data) and needed to involve people from across the business. We realised we needed a way to gather and identify important information quickly so we could make decisions. We’ve gathered insights from our audiences, spoken to a few of our clients, and run internal working groups to help us in our development.
As part of this process, we’ve reviewed our media stack and third party integrations so we can bring in the best tools to help us in our purpose. Our sites remain on Drupal. We’ve centralised code in GitHub. We’ve implemented a data management platform (DMP) from Cxense to provide contextual and behavioural content recommendations. We’re moving our email to ExactTarget to provide dynamic emails and more relevant content for our subscribers.
A new product set
This new media stack has helped us build better products to connect our clients with our audiences in a meaningful and relevant way. We’ve enhanced our products so they support the common goals of our clients from distinct stand-alone activities to integrated marketing programmes.
In addition to our current product set (content marketing, research and insights, advertising, and events) our products now include greater brand presence, real-time targeting of advertising and content delivered in a contextual and behavioural way, new high impact display formats as well as industry standard options, native advertising, and ad viewability.
This is just the start
The launch of our publishing platform is just the start. Our journey is very much a work in-progress, but we’re making good headway. We’ve lots to learn and discover as we getting deeper into our development and implementation of our new publishing platform. Over the coming months we will be extending functionality, applying audience insights, and optimise client campaign performance so we continue to evolve our platform to support our audiences and clients.
By Ian Robins, Head of Marketing and Operations at Sift Media, and published onLinkedIn Pulse, February 23, 2015