Web Sitings: The Architecture Behind a Site Redesign
Owned and operated by The McGraw-Hill Cos., Architectural-Record.com supplements the monthly business-to-business magazine Architectural Record with expanded multimedia stories, in-depth interviews, daily news updates and a wealth of other offerings for the architectural community—readers and users whose job it is to be design-savvy. So when tasked with redesigning the site about a year ago, one can understand the trepidation felt by Susannah Shepherd, design director, digital media, McGraw-Hill Construction (MHC).
Shepherd, who directs the design of all MHC sites, says redesigning a site for a community of architects was particularly daunting.
“It definitely is intimidating because architectural firms’ [own Web] sites are very beautiful and very well-designed, because that’s the look that they need to convey,” she says. “And the print version of Architectural Record is quite slick, too.”
Bryant Rousseau—who joined McGraw-Hill more than a year ago, just as relaunch plans were getting under way—admits he felt the pressure, too. As editorial director, digital media, Rousseau oversees the editorial content of all 16 MHC sites. “Because our audience is hundreds of thousands of design-savvy architects, it was crucial that the site have an exceptional design,” he says.
To add to the pressure, ArchRecord.com’s redesign was to serve as a model for the redesign of the rest of MHC’s sites.
Nearly a year later, the results are in, and the new site is a hit. Launched in April 2007, ArchRecord.com now averages 1.5 million page views per month, approximately 25 percent more than before its redesign. It’s also seen a “significant” uptick in unique visitors, which now number 200,000 per month, adds Rousseau.
A Community Effort
ArchRecord.com has made its greatest strides where so many other b-to-b sites seem to be floundering: user-generated content.
Rousseau says the decision to incorporate a variety of community tools into the redesign has sparked buy-in from the site’s users and has resulted in more—and better—content.
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