During the entire project, the most important issue for us was to teach the client about the latest digital trends and guide them through their daily use. We couldn’t stress enough how important the user experience (UX) was if we wanted to have an large audience reliable and regular, loyal readers.
Project Background and Description
Pannon RTV is a media house from Subotica, Serbia. It consists of two parts – a TV station and a radio station. When we took on the project, the existing news portal was out of date, so it was imperative for them to get a much-needed refresh and a greater focus on their web presence.
The news portal was never carefully planned and it has become outdated over time.
It was done ad hoc in WordPress using a pre-installed theme, which was clogged with more than 40K of articles.
We faced a few challenges right at the beginning of the project:
- How were we to properly plan the website structure?
- Which technology should we choose?
- How could we design a proper interface for the editors?
Having identified the key problems, we realized that it was necessary to change the server infrastructure. Believe it or not, the previous site was hosted on a shared server, so the website was extremely slow every day - sometimes, it simply failed to work due to overload.
Project Goals and Objectives
We were careful with defining the goals in the beginning, but in order to achieve even the bare minimum of change, we knew we needed to perform the following tasks:
- change the website platform to Drupal
- create a clean website structure
- create a brand new design
- maximize the user experience
- migrate all the old content
Process and Solution
We’ve explained to our client that the key to success lies in making the right first steps - spending more time on planning the structure and the UX rather than rushing the development phase.
During the research phase, we studied the largest news portals, as well as some of the smaller ones, so that we could identify what option were going to work in our case and what was not.
Of course, there were some challenges along the way - we needed to convince the client that they would need to give something up from their brief if they wished to see any significant success. In the end, all parties agreed on the most crucial parts and we continued with refining the wireframe.
Following the approval of the wireframe, the creative team began working on the first designs. After several versions and iterations, we came up with a great final result. We all felt that everything until this point was absolutely worth it!
There were three key sections that needed our special attention:
- Article Page
- Front Page
- Featured Articles (Header Section)
For the article page, we decided to place a large lead image at the top, adding a thin sidebar next to the article body with the publishing date, author information, and share buttons.
As for the featured articles on the home page, we wanted to drop the traditional slider and put the emphasized images and titles of the three featured articles, with a live feed of the latest articles, on the right side.
And here’s the result: the look and feel of the new homepage are clean and simple. Based on the Google Analytics data, the users started to use every section of the website immediately. It feels good to know that all the time spent on planning the new site paid off!
Once we had completed the design and received the approval from the client, we immediately started with the development.
Pannon RTV is now a Thunder-based website. Thunder is a Drupal distribution sponsored by Burda Media. We opted for Thunder because it is a clean, simple and well-crafted Drupal distribution with some killer features for desktop publishing. Some of the features include:
- regular maintenance and updates
- paragraphs module for the editorial experience - it rocks!
- mobile preview - a cool and easy way to check if everything’s alright with the mobile and/or tablet view
- Liveblog, Facebook Instant Articles, Focal Point for images, Blazy for image loading and better UI
- it is based on Drupal 8
Looking back at the timeline of the project development, we believe that we have successfully accomplished our primary goals. More improvements are planned for the future, but for now we are more than happy with the accomplishments of the initial stage.
- The new website is a brand new Thunder distribution based on Drupal 8.
- The look and feel of the website is completely changed, the user interface is easy to navigate, people are finding it easy to navigate and locate what they originally intended to read and we are getting quite positive feedback on the UX.
- We have successfully migrated over 40K pieces of content.
Let the numbers speak for us:
- 210% increase in average visit duration
- 15% decreased bounce rate
- 60% increase in number of returning visitors