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EE Times Group revamps website, online strategy

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An overhaul of the EE Times website (www.eetimes.com), which was relaunched Monday, reflects management’s decision to take a leap forward rather than make incremental changes, said Paul Miller, CEO of United Business Media’s EE Times Group, which is based in San Francisco. Rather than waiting for the economy to get better, “we decided to create optimism,” he said.

“We have millions of dollars of Web revenue, and it is our best profit-producing vehicle,” Miller said. “So the website is the ‘shop window’ for our brand.” The EE Times Group gets the majority of its revenue online. The revenue breakdown for the group is 48% digital, 42% from live events and 10% print.

“There are still a lot of worries,” Miller said about the broader economy. “We’ll have to fight for business like we always do, but we have renewed pride in our brand.”

In the new structure, EE Times has become the umbrella brand for a portfolio of formerly separate websites covering electronic engineering and design, including Designline, Embedded.com, Planet Analog and TechOnline. “The audience was very enthusiastic when they heard we could bring all these websites together under a common navigation,” Miller said.

One of the primary goals of the redesign is to combine EE Times journalism with user-generated content. EE Times recruited 80 engineering professionals who will be compensated to moderate and facilitate discussions.

“They have numbers to hit in terms of posting, keeping discussions going and responding to people,” Miller said. “They’ll get a small stipend at the end of the month.”

The redesign also includes a section called EE Life, where engineers can engage in discussions, respond to blogs and post videos of personal inventions. One engineer posted information about his air-powered french fry cutter.

In tandem with the relaunch, EE Times is implementing an expanded effort in the new-product information arena, where traditional engineering brands are facing new online-only competitors such as SupplyFrame. EE Times has partnered with Silicon Expert, which helps users search for parts by part number. EE Times recently hired former EE Times editor Brian Fuller to develop and lead a new-products strategy that will include user-generated product reviews and ratings.

“We’re bringing back someone who has been a thought leader in this industry for more than two decades to lead our product coverage strategy into the Web era,” Miller said.

Underlying the new EETimes.com is a proprietary content management system built from scratch by more than a dozen full-time developers. This move is contrary to the current trend in business media where open-source software and third-party CMS offerings are often used to build websites.

“This is something that definitely could have been done more cheaply,” Miller said, “but we didn’t want a cookie-cutter website. And we wanted to do some unique things.”

Miller also explained that the investment in the development team give the EE Times Group “the capability and capacity in-house to create custom solutions for marketers.”

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