Penton Media revamps Web site to focus on its people

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Earlier this month, Penton Media unveiled a redesigned corporate Web site that departs dramatically from its previous approach, as well as those of most other b-to-b media companies.

Rather than magazine covers, Web site screen shots and blocks of text explaining the breadth of the company’s products and services, the new emphasizes people, with black-and-white silhouette photos of the company’s market experts stretching from the top to the bottom of the screen.

Next to each photo is a giant headline within a bright magenta band that links the person pictured to his or her market with words such as “David knows food,” “Forrest knows agriculture” and “Rita knows garbage.” Beneath each of the market experts is the new corporate branding message: “Penton knows business.”

“The ‘Penton knows business’ message and promoting the overall theme of expertise is relatively new,” said Bethany Weaver, Penton’s corporate communications manager. “We plan to promote this message through several new communication pieces in the months ahead. While we don’t want to give everything away just yet, Penton is going to be placing a strong emphasis on promoting individual experts throughout the company.”

The people featured on the home page will be rotated every few months, she said.

“The organization of our new Web site is meant to enable people coming to the site to get a quick look at what our capabilities are through the experts who do the work,” said Warren Bimblick, senior VP-strategy and business development at Penton.

Brands are organized by market because “it is next to impossible to identify hundreds of brands in a logical manner other than through markets and the anointed market leaders,” he added.

As a practical matter, Penton wanted a new Web site that didn’t require frequent updating. “The old site, with its focus on static cover images, was always out of date,” Bimblick said. “This design will not be.”

The redesign is not merely a home-page face lift. The entire site was rebuilt by digital agency Huge Inc. on the DotNetNuke open-source platform. Huge Inc.’s clients include Ikea, iVillage, JetBlue Airways, Readers Digest, Reuters and Time Inc.

Beyond the corporate home page, brands are organized into16 markets, each with its own page. Each of those pages features a silhouette photo of the person who leads that market group. Farther down the page are logos, summaries and links for each brand in the group, including events and online-only products as well as print magazines.

“Our objective was to organize our brands and products in a manner that helped the user find specific products and information in as few mouse clicks as possible,” Weaver said. “We didn’t think it was in our users’ best interests to duplicate product information on the corporate site but rather to quickly and efficiently direct our users to the source,” such as the brand’s Web site, media kit or buyer’s guide.

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