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IDG unveils Computerworld.com redesign

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After several months of intense preparation, IDG's Computerworld.com is on track with its relaunch.

"Yes, it looks visually different, but what's really different is underneath," said Martha Connors, VP-general manager, online at Computerworld. "We've done a very sophisticated `rearchitecture' of the site and developed a content management system that is really at the core of our new approach." (At press time, the redesign was scheduled to debut on April 30.)

Recognizing that timeliness is a key attribute of the Internet, the Computerworld editorial team has been reoriented so it can be the first to break news in the enterprise IT space. More than 20 editorial staffers have been dedicated to Computerworld.com, up from a half dozen in 2005.

The editorial team is supported by a home-grown content management system that enables them to post stories to the site within 15 minutes, a much shorter lead time than previously. Moreover, a new site design supports the new content approach.

The new site, co-developed with strategic marketing and technology firm Decision Counsel, uses a content management system from Interwoven and a search platform from IBM unit Iphrase Technologies.

The editorial workflow begins with the posting of a new story on the Web site, which is updated in near-real time as the story develops. Site vistors are invited to make comments or respond to polls, and blogs are linked in to provide the audience's perspective quickly. Stories being written for the upcoming print edition thus can focus on analysis and reactions.

From a technical standpoint, Connors and her team put a premium on contextualization to improve the site's usability for its audience and advertisers. People searching for relevant keywords on such engines as Google and Yahoo! will likely find Computerworld results near the top because of the site's new automated "metatagger." "Where editors in the past have had to tag the stories themselves, with some people doing that better than others, this system generates 100 or more metatags relating to an article that editors can look at and choose [from]," Connors said.

Meanwhile, the search box on the site will provide a much more inclusive set of results to users, including white papers, special reports and vendor webcasts, along with editorial content from Computerworld and its sibling IDG sites. Plus, the deeper contextualization will enable Computerworld to serve ads alongside the most relevant articles based on keywords.

"Readers use the Web differently than a magazine," Connors said. "They are seeking information, and some of the information they want and need comes from vendors."

A Computerworld IT Management Study last fall indicated that IT white papers, IT vendor sites and IT Web sites are as important as IT trade publications when IT executives want "to get smart on a particular issue." (All four sources fell within a range of 65% to 69%.)

Visually, the site design has been dramatically overhauled. The Computerworld logo is centered in a bright, taxi cab-yellow band rather than floating in white space at the upper left-hand corner of the site.

"We chose a very bold color as a signature," Connors said. "People either love it or hate it; there's no in-between, and that's what we wanted. So many people come to a site from a search engine that you need to let them know where they landed. We want people to recognize the site and keep coming back to it."

The horizontal navigation tabs that used to run in two blue bars below the logo have been replaced with one slim gray bar running down the left-hand column. "We're very topic-oriented, and we want people to be able to see the breadth of topics we cover," Connors said. M

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