Perils, Pitfalls, and Pleasures: Moving Print Publications to Life Online

Embed Size (px)


Reading online is challenging. Reading print publications (alumni magazines, annual reports, admissions viewbooks) placed online in PDF or "flip" technology format is especially challenging.This presentation with Jay Collier (Bates College) outlines a better way, with examples from several universities that get it "right for the web" and case study details from Bates College.

Text of Perils, Pitfalls, and Pleasures: Moving Print Publications to Life Online

  • Perils, Pitfalls, and Pleasures:Moving Print Publications to Life OnlineBob Johnson and Jay CollierJ.Boye Conferences Philadelphia 2010May 4-6Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC*

  • Who is Bob Johnson?Higher education marketer since 1980sWriter of monthly Your Higher Education Marketing NewsletterOwner Bob Johnson Consulting, LLCPartner w/Gerry McGovern at Customer Carewords, LtdChair of Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education, 1994 to 2003Ph.D. in political science (UMass Amherst)Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC*

  • Who is Jay Collier?Twenty years developing, managing, producing, and editing programs in educational media communicationsWeb Communications Manager at Bates CollegePreviously: Dartmouth, MIT, WGBH, PBSB.S., Boston Univ. Coll. of CommunicationsM.A., Union Institute and UniversityBob Johnson Consulting, LLC*

  • 8 key points about the InternetPeople are impatientPeople are impatientPeople are impatientPeople are impatientPeople are impatientPeople are impatientPeople are impatientPeople are impatientBob Johnson Consulting, LLC*

  • The Golden Rule5 seconds to connectBob Johnson Consulting, LLC*

  • The Peril:Web readers cant scan your pages

    If people cant scan your pages and engage in 5 seconds or less, people wont read your contentBob Johnson Consulting, LLC*

  • The PitfallsNeed to get print online ASAPWant people to see what the print designer intendedBob Johnson Consulting, LLC*

  • You cant scan this annual reportBob Johnson Consulting, LLC*

  • You cant scan magazines like thisBob Johnson Consulting, LLC*

  • Flip technology doesnt help Johnson Consulting, LLC*

  • The PleasuresRepurpose print for the webOften with blog softwareBob Johnson Consulting, LLC*

  • Chicago gets it right for years Johnson Consulting, LLC*

  • Carleton prompts action Johnson Consulting, LLC*

  • Easy to scan annual giving report

    Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC*

  • Give people a format choice? Johnson Consulting, LLC*

  • Blogazine format works well Johnson Consulting, LLC*

  • Case Study: Bates Co llege

  • Define vision and goalsDemonstrate and prototypeLaunch and fine tuneEvaluate costs and benefits

  • Define vision and goals

  • Be dependable anywhere, any time, any deviceBe intuitive simple publishing, searching, findingBe helpful helpful information and instructionsBe interesting appealing, personal, immersiveBe personalizable up to date feeds by interestBe welcoming online spaces for collaborationBe meaningful insight into what matters to you

  • Demonstrate and prototype

  • Evaluate costs and benefits


  • Questions?Jay Collier -

    This afternoon, I'm going to share the process we used, from the original blueprint and development, to what worked and what we learned.

    And, finally, I'll talk about the benefits we've seen and where we're going next.We started out by holding over a dozen listening sessions to find out what students, parents, alumni, faculty, and staff wanted from their online relationships with our College.

    The comments were consistent: everyone wanted the same kinds of things -- regardless of the content or system -- from Magazine features to Reunion information to event registration: First, they said effective online experiences should be dependable working anywhere, any time, from any device, on any networkSecond, they should be usable with intuitive publishing, searching, finding that does not require a manual or a help desk.Third, They should be helpful with information and instructions that answer your questions quicklyFourth They should be interesting appealing, immersive, lively, in a style that is engaging to each audience. Fifth, They should be personalizable with subscription and notifications on topics of personal interests Sixth, they should be welcoming spaces where multiple perspectives are presented and encouraged Finally, they should be meaningful and inspiring providing insight into what matters to you. They need to be worth your time.We also wanted to help people explore all of our content, and discover what was of interest to them, organically, without having to start all over in each Web site in our domain.

    We wanted to create a platform where people could answer their questions, follow their curiosity, and make tWe realized it was important to see the pathways that brought people to our online content, as well as where they would go afterwards, so we developed a whole-domain blueprint for all of our content and systems. This would help us identify the context for each piece.

    telling our storiesWe decided to start with first impressions: the home page, top-level themes, and the collection of features and stories that illustrated them.The Home site would contain the primary themes and phases of the Bates life span -- from initial awareness to application to academics to activities to alumni lifeThe Views site would contain ALL of our official print content -- text and images from our news releases, features, and Magazine -- plus all multimedia -- tied together into a seamless pathways by a set of common categories.We had several goals. We wanted to improve results in search engines. We wanted to improve placement in alerts, blogs, social media. We wanted to place content where it could be found naturally in our siteSo, to show our editors and authors how we could enhance the findability and syndication of their content, we created a demo site called Bates Views out at hosting and posted several hundred recent stories.

    (Over the previous two years, my students and I had installed and built demo sites in WordPress, Drupal, and Expression Engine, and WordPress had become our software of choice.)The demo allowed us to show our authors the WordPress editing interface and develop and develop the categories that would help surface those stories when they were optimized for search engines and social media discovery. [WP INTERFACE WITH CATEGORIES]We integrated the demo architecture, stories, and categories into a prototype using installed Wordpress software on an external hosting service. Ethan Magoon, our stellar interface designer built themes for the site and our editors copyedited the text. Our photographer selected galleries from her digital collection to illustrate each point. [WP PROTOTYPE (Screen shot of academics with stories, campus life with stories)]Now that we had the wide selection of themes and a deep pool of editorial, I created landing pages for our publications to re-aggregrate their content.Email subscriptions were a real bonus.

    For the campaign workflow, I set up opt-in e-mail campaigns through MailChimp to deliver content as soon as our editorial staff post content into our Views news blog,

    So, each segment is driven by categories delivered by RSS; no need to create a separate e-mail message for each campaign.After the transition settled down, we now had a place for our editors and authors to embed their multimedia pieces, so they stepped up the production queue.The WordPress user interface is easier to use than our legacy content management system.Categorizing stories for syndication and search takes time to master. The traditional publishing process is to produce a magazine, handbook, or brochure and then archive it. Categories allow published content to surface and be reused across the enterprise over time, keeping prior content alive.Due to the fact that we were now posting stories into a blog RSS feed, stories are picked up and distributed by Google Alerts much more quickly, often within an hour or two (rather than weeks if ever).Visitors are looking around our site and exploring pathways of interest to them. Our bounce rate -- people who arrive at the site and only view one page -- went down from 60% to 13%[Analytics screen]Our number of daily unique visitors went from 0 to 30,000 in one day.

    Our bounce rate visitors who arrive at a page or post and leave immediately went down from 58% to 11% over the past year. This is a very good as a preliminary measurement of engagement.We began offering e-mail updates, first a daily digest, and then weekly updates by theme: academics, research, athletics, alumni. We went from 0 subscribers to 1800 in less than (august to april) 8 months, with a total of 12,400 emails being sent each month. Our open rate (38%) is much higher than the industry average as reported by MailChimp, our campaign service provider.We acquired more than 1800 subscribers in less than 3 months, with a total of 12,400 separate emails being sent -- by request -- in March alone.

    More than 2/3 of subscribers select our major monthly distribution, and the open and click rates are much higher than the industry average, at least as reported through MailChimp, our service provider.Moving from print to the Web may save paper, but it does not necessarily save staff time. Our editorial staff is using gained time to produce multimedia content. I want to encourage you to add your school, if you havent already, to our growing WordPress in Higher Education list at Google Docs.The short URL is bitly - slash - wphighed