ALM relaunches as a portal

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Late last month, ALM Media relaunched its website. The changes included an updated design and additional social networking features, but the biggest alteration is the new role now plays within the ALM online portfolio. Prior to the relaunch, was a destination site that hosted its own content and, secondarily, a portal that directed users to other ALM properties. “Now it is much more of a portal,” said ALM's Jill Windwer, VP-digital products and

Digital Directions: What is the thinking behind the new strategy?

Jill Windwer: Instead of driving traffic to—which tends to attract the largest and broadest audience of all our websites—we are driving traffic from to the ALM site where the content originated. As before, has a team of editors who gathers content from the ALM network throughout the day. They also choose stories from outside ALM for a “More Stories From the Web” section, which is new for this site.

We're not doing this only to drive traffic [to ALM's newspaper and magazine sites] but also to raise awareness of all things ALM. We want to highlight our research, books, events, job site, continuing legal education and all the other things we do. We have 400,000 unique visitors a month to, and we want to expose them to everything we have to offer.

DD: What are some of the major changes on the site?

Windwer: We updated to take advantage of all the social features our community likes, so you've got a box listing the “most viewed” and “most commented” stories, a box with the “most mentioned” topics and Twitter links. We also feature many more posts from the Blog Network. When a user clicks on a headline or term in the “most viewed,” “most commented” and “most mentioned” lists, they will be directed to the originating site.

Previously, the content on was free but, within our network, we have three levels of content—free, free-with-registration and paid content. will now pick up all of it. The stories with red key icons require you to have a paid subscription to that site. Theoretically, will generate revenue by getting more paid subscribers on other sites. Also, we have what we call site licenses where [the licensees] can access all the ALM content in one place through and pass through regardless of the free or paid status of the content.

DD: Was there any change in your content management system?

Windwer: No, it's the same Fatwire CMS we have been using. We designed the site in-house. As we go through [subsequent] site redesigns on the network, you will start to see others with the same look and feel as

One of those changes will be the navigation. We removed the navigation that was previously in the left-hand column. Now, when users go to the main navigation bar directly under the logo and they hover over one of the words, a drop-down menu will appear. We also have some new ad configurations, such as a square ad on the upper-right corner of the home page that replaces a long, thin skyscraper. The new one is completely above the fold, which is a premium position for advertisers. Finally, we are beginning to roll out a big, beautiful footer on every home page that will act as a site map for all of ALM.

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