SBC Magazine Website
Structural Building Components Magazine (aka SBC) has served the component manufacturing industry and the members of the Structural Building Component Association for more than a decade. This almost-monthly trade journal has a strong reputation as being the place for component manufacturers and others in the industry to go for the latest news on innovation, education and just plain cool projects. There was just one problem….the magazine’s staff was so busy turning out fabulous print editions that SBC’s website got left in the 20th century and was in desperate need of a facelift.
Enter Pushing7. Ben helped SBC staff determine three primary goals for the site. The design needed to be clean and easy to navigate with lots of white space – it was time to declutter! Features that would build a stronger sense of community within the industry were necessary to bring readers online and invite them to dialogue about current issues. And finally, the site needed to bring readers closer to information from the magazine’s advertisers by interspersing advertising throughout the site.
For a site of this size (2000+ plus pages), a robust content management system (CMS) was a must. A primary use of the site by SBC readers is to reference news and articles online, so both current article features and industry news took a prominent place on the home page. The CMS allows for quick and easy editing by SBC staff, saving them time and energy, and creating flexibility with content they were never able to enjoy with their old site. For example, content scheduling features make it possible to automatically publish or unpublish content on specific dates, which allows editors to post new content on the site and review it in context before making it available to the general public. The archives of past issues, featuring an iTunes style magazine cover browser, is easier to navigate and the search feature provides options to search by type of content as well as by category.
“The new website features we are most excited about allow our readers to comment on articles and participate in polls,” commented Sean Shields, one of SBC’s Managing Editors. “Plus, a new industry forum called ShopTalk provides a place for readers to dialogue about important industry issues.”
Last but not least, the site brings readers closer to information from the magazine’s loyal program advertisers by interspersing their ads throughout the site, with links directly to their websites. The site allows each ad to be weighted according to an advertiser’s frequency in the print addition, so that the site’s largest supporters get a proportionately larger number of impressions than smaller sponsors. Advertisers will also have access to statistics about their online ads. The same system is also used to track classified ads that are published in the magazine.
In addition to achieving the three primary goals, Pushing7 incorporated a number of interesting features into the site’s architecture to address additional needs of the SBC staff. Here are a few examples:
- An accordion menu feature for the secondary navigation allowed us to include a large number of secondary menu navigation links into a relatively small amount of space. This helped keep the design from feeling cluttered while adding some interactivity to the site at the same time.
- Each month, the magazine publishes up-to-date information about building permits and housing starts in the US and Canada. In addition to reducing the time required for the client to update the data, we automated the data visualization process by utilizing Google’s chart tools to present the data as interactive charts on the site. This approach also makes it possible for the client to provide real-time results for user polls and surveys .
- Another important feature for SBC was the ability to define multiple user roles for their site users. The site included a custom feature that allows users to authenticate with an external user database and assign roles based on the results. This enables the magazine to provide customized content targeted specifically to different user groups within their industry.
In the end, a regular visitor to the site sums it up best: “SBC Magazine is the best source for information for the structural components industry. Their new website makes it that much easier to access the latest stories and industry news items, and also provides a new way for us as a community to discuss current trends,” said Jesse Lohse, President of Rocky Mountain Truss (Havre, MT) and 2012 Marketing Committee Chair for the Structural Building Components Association. Mission accomplished.