Significantly improving the life of editors through technical redevelopment of the client's corporate website.
Pan Macmillan is among the largest general book publishers in the UK. It is part of the Macmillan group which was founded in 1843, and is now one of the largest and best-known international publishers in the world, operating in over 70 countries worldwide. Macmillan is known for its high-quality academic and scholarly, educational, fiction and non-fiction, and reference publishing.
We are delighted to have worked with Pan Macmillan for many years on numerous projects, including Picador, The Gruffalo and Dear Zoo & Friends. All of them have been hugely successful thus far, and we were very much looking forward to working together again.
Goals and objectives
Pan Macmillan's old website was developed in a way that would prevent its editors to make changes and quickly react to an unexpected situation. Therefore, they approached us with the task to redevelop their current corporate website in order to simplify the way it operates and allow more editorial control. While the firm was satisfied with the look and feel of their existing website, the changes that needed to be made were largely technical, focusing on cleaning up the backend of the website and making it easier for editors to create content. The design was to remain largely the same, with only a few areas that needed amending to match the new functionality.
The key areas for improvement across the site were:
- Data Collection - Pan Macmillan wanted to use this site to understand their readership so they could provide relevant authors and books.
- Brand Awareness - Driven by engaging content, Pan Macmillan hoped to increase awareness through blog posts and engagement with posts.
- Assisted Discovery – Pan Macmillan aimed to allow users to discover great new books and authors, as well as emphasise books as a form of great entertainment.
- Automation – The editors were entering the same content in several areas across the site. They wanted the content to be driven from a single source of data.
- Unique URL - all content has a unique URL and this drives searches to relevant content and target users’ queries.
We started by undertaking an extensive and detailed discovery phase. Given the fact that this project is largely of a technical nature, the first stage was to spend time analysing and planning the redevelopment.
Following our initial investigation, we proposed to build the website from scratch using Kentico 8.2., in addition to integrating with Biblio, Exact Target and Vista. This allowed us to embrace the latest Kentico version, including the new ecommerce features. Kentico was the natural choice for this project, as it already offers much of the functionality required, for example, we could ensure an effective use of A/B split testing, content personalisation, marketing automation, and so on.
Through a series of internal website review sessions, and onsite workshops with the Pan Macmillan team, we identified the key areas that we needed to work on in order to reach the primary objectives of this project. In order to meet the ‘ease of editing’ key objective of the project, we aimed to use the minimum number of different page templates, document types, web parts, and widgets to meet the requirements.
We created the following functionalities:
- Find Your Local Bookshop - this is an external link allowing users to visit and utilise the Booksellers Associations bookshop search.
- SoundCloud - this takes the URL of a SoundCloud recording and inputs it onto the website using the default SoundCloud widget.
- Newsletter Signup - this allows an anonymous user to enter their email address and subscribe to an author or genre newsletter, dependent on the page they are on. For logged in users, a subscribe button is provided.
- Book Summary and Book Extract – these include title, cover image, extract, number of pages, "find out more" links as well as other functionalities.
- Related Books - this displays a list of book covers, related to the current book, each of which links to a book detail page. On this widget, the user is able to purchase the book through both Pan Macmillan and partner retailers.
- Book Carousel – this displays a list of book covers, organised by genre, tag and series, which links to a book detail page.
- Events Summary - this shows the details of a specific event, including button to signal attendance, location, image, title, event time and date.
Pan Macmillan has a number of people inputting content and the goal was to make it as easy as possible for them to do so. To enable this, we had to fundamentally change the way content is used in the website. Almost all new pieces of content are now added to as a blog post and are categorised as the most relevant subject or audience page. There is now the ability to tag book and author blog posts, and a snippet appears on these pages as well.
We also had to account for the fact that a lot more content would be added in the future, meaning we had to ensure the best experience for users. We decided to improve the search capabilities within the site. It will be now much easier for users to find what they are looking for by using the 'quick search' web part. There is a suggestive and advanced search that highlights content to the users upon their input into the text box. Furthermore, results will be automatically sorted by relevancy.
The website was designed and built to facilitate Pan Macmillan's plans to implement an ecommerce functionality in the future, moving it into the core Kentico module.
The new site is fully mobile and tablet friendly using a blend of responsive and adaptive design.
The website is now easier to edit and more cost effective to build new enhancements. Code is structured so that multiple developers can work on it.
What do Pan Macmillan say?
James Luscombe Web Operations Director
The redevelopment of the Pan Macmillan site has enabled us to understand our audience and provide them with content that they are most interested in. This has meant we can engage with our readers much more. As well as this, we are now able to display new content to facilitate the discovery of new books and authors.