ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR magazine (ECmag) is the fastest growing and most visited site by electrical contractors in the industry and offers the broadest array of digital information available, all of which is fully searchable with archives going back to 2000. ECmag is the official publication of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and boasts 85,000+ readers, including business owners, partners, presidents, engineers, estimators, purchasing agents, project managers, supervisors, foremen, electricians, and others.
ECmag.com had built up a strong readership, but its online presence did not reflect the thought leadership that its subscribers looked to them for.
ECmag.com was previously built on a proprietary Cold Fusion platform, which complicated upgrades. Scaling the website to accommodate growth was extremely difficult, greatly limiting ECmag.com’s ability to keep up with an ever-changing web.
No Content Control
One of the missions of ECmag is to provide readers with the most complete information available in their industry. Unfortunately, the level of control afforded to the staff of ECmag.com was limited, making updates a manual and time intensive process. Each new article had to be imported one at a time and like articles had to also be related by title, so that the process was highly manual and based on the user’s knowledge of existing content to build relationships.
ECmag.com’s audience was restricted in the way that they could search to find content to match their interests as well as to engage with the content presented. Article ranking, commenting and sharing was limited.
ECmag.com needed a platform and image that best reflected the brand and personality of the magazine, one that positioned them as the forward-thinking industry leader and not outdated or poorly organized. John Maisel, Publisher of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR Magazine commented, "It just wasn't working. Technology isn't my long suit, but I realized that if we were going to stay competitive and best serve the needs of our customer base, we had to make major changes."
Unleashed Technologies was asked to build a dynamic platform for ECmag that would bring them increased control, usability and scalability. The solution was built using the open source Drupal 7 platform and leveraging Unleashed Technologies' substantial knowledge of online magazines and publication production to get it to market quickly. This new platform delivered:
- Granular control over website content, including article placement, photo galleries, and content correlation
- A strong taxonomy structure to improve search and disparate content associations
- A flexible advertising solution with the ability to serve a variety of third-party ads, choose their position and display frequency, and report fully on impressions
- XML batch importer to automate and streamline the addition of new content
- Dynamic author control enabling universal updates and the ability for visitors to subscribe to individual authors
- Robust rating system for articles
- Integration of the Disqus commenting platform
- Java and HTML 5 best practices to support engaging design elements, such as the homepage banner, coverflow of past issues, and media kit
Throughout the development of this platform, Unleashed Technologies worked closely with Bates Creative Group to ensure that the technology fully supported their intuitive design to enable ECmag.com to deliver a superior experience to its users.
To ensure a superior web presence, Unleashed Technologies is hosting the ECmag platform in high performance environment. Unleashed Technologies leveraged its expertise with the Drupal platform and enterprise hosting to develop a hosting solution that optimizes every aspect of the ECmag.com to bring its 4 - 8 second load times down to sub-2 seconds.
The robust platform developed by Unleashed Technologies combined with the intuitive design provided by Bates Creative deliver a highly engaging, dynamic web presence for ECmag. The ECmag website formerly required a high amount of work for low value tasks, but with the automation of key processes through this web platform its staff can now perform less work to drive a much higher value. "As we explore and develop the capabilities that the flexible Drupal platform gives us, we're finding that we're able to offer so many interesting and informative features that we couldn't before. We can't wait to figure out all that we can do," said John Maisel.
With this renewed web presence, ECmag has:
- Increased web engagement through an intuitive design, social enablement, and information architecture
- Met visitor expectations with targeted search results and content correlation
- Improved revenue opportunity with a robust advertising platform
- Reduced manual processes and eased management with automated importing and granular content control
- 200% - 425% reduction of page load times with sub-two second initial page loads and less than one second cached load speeds
The combined efforts of Bates Creative Group and Unleashed Technologies resulted in the creation of a web presence for Electrical Contractor magazine that not only reinforces, but expands, its industry leadership. "There are things a magazine can do that a website can't, but there are also many things a website can do that a magazine can't. We're striving to offer our customers - both readers and advertisers - a broad menu of interactive communication tools. Our new site has enabled us to do that more effectively and efficiently. Whether it's an advertiser trying to reach a market or the market trying to get information, having this added dimension is invaluable," commented John Maisel.