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McGraw-Hill’s GreenSourceMag.com relaunches

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McGraw-Hill Construction’s GreenSource is officially unveiling its redesigned Web site this week.

“This is the third evolution of GreenSourceMag.com,” said Dora Chomiak, senior director of product development, digital media and eCommerce for McGraw-Hill Construction. “GreenSource originated as an aggregator of stories related to sustainable building.” The GreenSource quarterly magazine and its companion Web site were launched in May 2006.

The redesigned Web site went live in early July in soft-launch mode, with official launch announcements going out this week. When a site is offering community functions, a soft launch period is critical for building initial user-generated content and dialogue, Chomiak said.

“We’ve added community-Web 2.0-social media tools that allow users to do several things—comment on specific stories, rate projects, recommend pieces of content, contribute photos of their work and set up profiles for themselves,” she said.

An e-newsletter companion to GreenSource will debut later this month. It will include highlights of the user-generated content from the site and will link back to various Web 2.0 features.

Many of the community functions of GreenSourceMag.com are designed to be shared with other sites within the McGraw-Hill Construction group, which includes Architectural Record, ENR and the Sweets Network. However, only two of the sites in the group, those of Architectural Record and GreenSource, have launched redesigns that fully integrate the Web 2.0 tools. Architectural Record’s Web site was relaunched in early May.

“Our whole industry is heavily dependent on different professions working together,” Chomiak said. Therefore, the GreenSource Web site links to some community features that will be shared—including photo galleries, forums, user profiles and continuing professional education—while retaining certain functions, such as commenting on or recommending articles, on its own branded site.

The technology that runs the site’s new community tools comes from Pluck, a hosted social media solution that uses widgets (very lightweight applications) to embed the community capabilities directly into a publisher’s site.

The Pluck functionality automatically brings various community features to GreenSourceMag.com editorial pages. These include recently posted reader photos, recent forum discussions and recently updated user profiles.

The relationship with Pluck also includes access to its Blogburst blog syndication network. Chomiak said GreenSource editors handpick blog posts, and readers view them on the site rather than linking off the site.

Two other goals of the redesigns of the Architectural Record and GreenSource sites were easier navigation and more compelling advertising positions. One example of a new ad position is the large leader board above the sites’ logos. The sites now have one horizontal navigation bar across the top of each page.

There are also more linkages between GreenSourceMag.com and Architectural Record.com. “The underlying structure or bones of the two sites are similar so that we can share content back and forth easily and move people around,” Chomiak said.

GreenSource and GreenSourceMag.com are published by McGraw-Hill Construction and two “supporter” organizations, the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) and BuildingGreen Inc., an independent, Vermont-based company that produces subscription-only publications in print and online, as well as a product directory.

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