Magazine Web Site Leaders
Technology publications have not been alone in their endeavor to stay on top of rapid technological changes in the world. Crain Communications Inc., a business-to-business publisher in Detroit, has been forced to innovate over the years as well. The privately held publisher of 30 titles ranging from Modern Healthcare to Workforce Management has increased its Web presence over the years, creating sites for 21 of its titles.
Marc Mathies, new media production director at Crain, says that since the inception of the publisher's first Web site in the mid-'90s, Crain's Web philosophy has been to outsource most of its technology needs. Over the years it has developed a select list of application-service providers to help with its Web sites. These vendors provide Crain with content-management applications, site-hosting, custom-application-development, security and maintenance service.
"By using one vendor for each application, Crain has been able to leverage economies of scale to establish attractive enterprise contract terms," Mathies says. Vendors also provide banner-advertisement serving and scheduling, bulk
e-mail distribution, site analytics and reporting, performance auditing and credit card authentication. He says Crain is currently looking to expand its list of vendors.
The workflow between print and Web is determined on a publication-by-publication basis. Mathies says there are essentially two methods. The first is a cut-and-paste method where editors manually enter each story into a Web-based publishing tool. "This method affords the publication the opportunity to have better control of the workflow and has the added advantage of not being tied to the production close of the print product. The disadvantage is that this process requires additional time and resources to post each story manually," Mathies says.
The other method is an automated batch process. With this process, an editor uploads a file containing all of the stories published in one particular edition of a printed magazine into the Web site's publishing database. "This more-automated process allows the publication to upload all the stories for an edition at once. The disadvantage to the process is that it is tied directly to the close of our print publication, affecting the timeliness of the posting," Mathies says.