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Case Study

Homemag.com: The Advantages Control and Flexibility

Home Magazine, published by Hachette Filipacchi New Media, is the premier publication for the American homeowner. With articles and features on architecture, remodeling, decorating, and landscaping, it keeps its readers abreast of the latest developments and sources within the home-improvement field.

To produce a Web-published version of the magazine (www.homemag.com), Hachette sought an Internet infrastructure tool to dynamically create, manage and maintain frequently changing content. It needed a solution that offered:

complete control over site processes for creative and business staff;

flexibility to respond quickly to content changes or updates --- both editorial and advertising;

efficient architecture for site management with limited staff resources (one editor, one online producer);

ease and simplicity of interfaces for multiple site contributors locally and in several outside locations.

"In magazine publishing, there's a certain degree of unpredictability that requires us to add or remove content on a moment's notice," says Susan Glines, the director of homemag.com. "For example, a feature may need additional information or photos to make it more timely, or an advertiser might have immediate changes to a banner that appears in several places across the site."

Hachette evaluated solutions from Vignette, Interwoven, Eprise, and World Web Net, but none provided the control or flexibility that the homemag.com team required. "Changes to templates necessitated vendor involvement, which typically means longer turnaround times," says Glines.

VERSIFI: The Perfect Fit

Hachette chose VERSIFI because it provided the desired level of control, as well as flexibility, efficiency and ease of use. And VERSIFI's Web-driven database allows Hachette to distribute and re-use content among other print publications and Web sites it produces. "The application breaks content into versatile components, which enables us to seamlessly automate custom changes for holidays and other special occasions," says Glines. "We're impressed by how much of the actual site content creation is point and click. This design empowers our small non-technical staff to make site changes quickly and accurately."

Production began on homemag.com in May of 2000, and the site went live in early November. After just one training session, the homemag.com editor -- who has limited online development experience -- began building most of the templates and pages herself, based on the design of Fusion Inc., a VERSIFI business partner. "That's a real testament to the ease of use of this system," says Glines. "Templates can be easily manipulated and the browser-based tool lets us view updated pages instantly. This is key for us in building pages on the fly. Other systems don't always accommodate this."

An added benefit for Hachette is that VERSIFI is extremely cost-effective. "VERSIFI is not only priced very competitively, but it also helps us control our budget since we don't have to spend as much for programming support, compared to other solutions. And when you factor in the functionality, we have a real competitive advantage both in investment and time to market."

The homemag.com templates were designed with an eye toward a clean display of content and a fast rendering of pages. The site contains three main sections, with archives: "Spaces," which presents features according to parts of a home; "Buyer's Guide," which highlights products; and "Home," which showcases entire homes and offers decoration tips.There's also a search function, a forum, chat rooms, and subscription options for the print version of the magazine and an e-newsletter.

Down the Road

Like any Web site, homemag.com will evolve to provide more for its audience. Among the next features planned for the site are personalization for subscribers to build their own "e-rooms," and audio and video to accompany the articles. VERSIFI will accommodate these plans with components for both features.