How we boosted visitor engagement for this innovative social platform
MyKindaBook (MKB) is the teen book club from Macmillan Publishers.
MKB highlights fabulously talented authors writing books for teens, and provides an online space where visitors can find out about great new books, get book recommendations, and chat with other teens.
A dying platform
MyKindaBook helps teenage readers discover new books and share their thoughts on what they’ve read. The existing site was difficult to maintain, looked dated and wasn’t getting the repeat visits they wanted.
So we started talking about developing a ‘community platform’: a far more engaging site that would draw visitors back with social features. By being able to share experiences, reactions and recommendations with other readers who enjoy the same type of writing, we’d give teenagers a reason to keep coming back.
Time for change
To find out exactly what the MyKindaBook readers wanted, we ran a series of workshops to gather requirements. A rebranding exercise was undertaken in parallel by branding agency Ranch, who provided a fantastic platform on which to design and build the site.
A future-proof platform
We used an agile development process, which allowed us to rapidly prototype ideas, adapt and embrace change. Looking back, we think that our agile development process gave us a far better website because we consistently challenged the brief all the way through.
We used Kentico EMS for the project – a content management system that we regularly turn to for its balance of flexibility and sophistication.
We used a range of its powerful and flexible modules, including:
User management and permissions modules: these let us keep track of user information and which parts of the site people can use, which helps us tailor things for particular users.
Advanced document management and workflow modules: with over 150 books and 50 authors, the team at MyKindaBook need to let certain editors keep their own parts of the site up-to-date without being able to change other parts.
Content personalisation: the Enterprise Marketing Solution module gave us a way to keep things personal. It lets us present things differently to different users – a level of personalisation that’s pretty rare in the rest of the industry.
Mobile-friendly design: we also love the way that Kentico works with 51Degrees to detect the device at the server-side. So if you’re browsing on a phone with a slower data connection, we can give you a faster-loading site without forcing you to wait for desktop-sized images.
Social media integration: integration with Facebook and Twitter keeps things really simple, giving visitors a way to log in without creating a new username and password.
We also extended the functionality of Kentico by building two of our own modules:
Enhanced comments module: the first was a way to help build user engagement by letting users comment on anything at all, including books, authors and features.
Custom search and book recommendations engine: the second was a way to customise new content suggestions based on a variety of different factors linked to the user’s account. What has the visitor already shown us they enjoy or dislike? And how does that compare to other people who use the site? Armed with this information we can give intelligent recommendations that are far more likely to catch users’ imaginations. And best of all, it ‘learns’ and improves as more and more people use the site.
Scalable cloud hosting
Windows Azure was chosen to host the website, since it gives the flexibility to scale capacity up and down to meet demand. Azure is an ideal hosting environment for Kentico EMS, which was one of the first content management systems to natively support the platform.
How did it go?
We've seen a considerable increase in reader engagement, summarised by some impressive analytics:
- 55.59% increase in page views
- 65.41% increase in pages per visit
- 59.64% increase in average visit duration
- 14.21% increase in traffic from organic search
And the new mobile / responsive solutions has led to:
- 38.17% increase in pages per visit
- 27.13% increase in average visit duration
Furthermore, the project won "Best Mobile Site" in the Kentico Site of the Year awards.
What do Pan Macmillan say?
James LuscombeHead of Web Development for Pan Macmillan
"Mykindabook.com (MKB) needed a major overhaul as the old site no longer suited its target audience. The old CMS was not flexible enough for the content or features demanded by a vibrant teen website. Distinction worked with us from the beginning, inputting into the rebranding process, and IA workshops providing wireframes for the design agency to use.
This project was run almost in tandem with the picador.com project and was built upon the same core community framework; it is a testament to Distinction and their project management that both projects went so smoothly.
The website has been a huge success not only for users, SEO and the MKB team, but in the wider Macmillan global group. We are now beginning the first global version of the community platform as a direct result of MKB, which means Kentico is being adopted more widely in Macmillan."