Case Study - How to Go From Idea to Launch in 3 Months.
Part 1: Design

author/source: Mike Essex

How to Go from Idea to Launch in 3 Months
Part 1 - Design

Designing and launching one website is hard, but when the call came to rebrand our entire publishing arm, encompassing six websites in little under three months, we knew we would be in with a challenge. This article details the help we received from SubHub as well as tips we learnt along the way on how to design, build and implement new websites as well as marketing them once live.

Part 1: Design

There’s nothing more important for a new website than design, and our primary goal was to strip away many redundant technical aspects of our old website and focus on clear navigation throughout. Realising that our current visitors would prefer not to login to view content we removed registration almost entirely and opened our website up to everyone. To counteract the loss in user data SubHub recommended we rely on the Golden Square (the top left corner of any page, where users eyes are drawn first) in which we slotted in an email sign up form to redress the balance. underwent the most radical transformation.

The biggest challenge came from trying to maintain the look and feel of our printed material whilst also creating something that stayed true to the rules of the web. Much of our printed logos are on white backgrounds, yet we found on the web this lost some of its impact. For each site we created three variants with the primary colours from the magazine and one unusual design which bore little resemblance. In every case the design that was used was the one that stayed truest to the magazine itself but we almost had to create these unusual designs to see how much better things would look staying true to the original. stayed the truest to its magazine origins.

Previously we had placed all of the content from our publications in to very niche sections (Case Studies, Special Reports, Special Features etc) which led to only one update in each section a month. Not good for visitors and definitely not good for Google. To resolve this we slimmed down on the number of sections to two: News and Company Directory. went from five sections down to two.

As much of what we do is free for the reader we survive on advertiser revenue alone, so we needed to maximise revenue and at the same time not betray our readers. Ideas varied from the extreme (having a full screen ad before viewing the site) to the unusual (two banner adverts at the top of the page) until we settled on the standard banner at the top, ads on the right. This kept the content fresh in the middle of the page and gave us the opportunity to have house ads on the left. We also stuck to a low screen resolution to ensure ads were never pushed off the sides of the page (imagine trying to sell an advert someone can’t see without scrolling). uses paid listings and paid ads to full effect.

Lessons Learnt:

•    Weigh up the views of each party: (advertisers, sales people, readers, staff) and set priorities - if you can focus test then even better.

•    Try as many designs as you can: if you have corporate colours from existing material use them where possible. Don’t be afraid to experiment. If nothing else it will show you what doesn’t work and prove your other designs do.

•    Keep it lean: By cutting down on the number of sections we found our company directory went from one of the least popular pages to the most popular.

•    Make money: If you need advertiser revenue then ensure adverts are prominent and used to full effect.

In Part 2:

I will discuss the considerations to be had with content; specifically the headache that is content migration and ensuring the best articles float to the top.

Author Profile

Mike Essex is the eBusiness Manager of TSP Online Ltd, the online arm of Tanner Stiles Publishing Ltd.

The group currently has six websites on the SubHub platform:

Housing Specification Magazine

Landscape and Amenity Product Update Magazine

Specification Magazine

Specification Product Update Magazine

Hotel Sport and Leisure Magazine

Play and Activity Today Magazine

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