Penton website redesigns push community, mobility

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The Penton Technology Group launched redesigned Web properties for SharePoint Pro and Windows IT Pro in March, updating the infrastructure to accommodate an increasingly mobile and social audience. “Our two big goals were to improve the user experience and to improve the environment for our contributors to post content and respond to social activities,” said Peg Miller, group publisher. “We've tried to allow better community engagement and [to] focus on things like the functionality around commenting on content and enabling social interaction.” The new sites feature an integrated Twitter feed on each page, as well as commenting opportunities on individual articles or blog posts. Readers can correspond with popular bloggers as well as an extended reader network. Those online conversations can rapidly increase the reach of the publications, Miller said. A streamlined content feed on the front page incorporates diverse elements that were once spread across the site. Blog posts, articles, webinars and white papers appear in the same feed, providing a mix of free, premium and sponsored content. “We've brought those together into our primary database so people can find the content ... they are interested in,” Miller said. The presentation of premium content is part of a larger e-commerce strategy. “We're trying to make a more seamless experience so that we're enabling the buying process,” she said. “We're exposing premium-content opportunities on the Web and then through targeted email outreach based on behavioral activity.” The presentation reduces clutter, and sponsored content—clearly labeled—performs better in context, Miller said. Penton will also roll out medallion ads that will be anchored into relevant content. “It doesn't detract from the user experience,” she said, “but it gives advertisers an option to have a very relevant advertising opportunity.” The overhauls corresponded to feedback gained through communities active on the sites as well as through structured surveys. The percentage of mobile traffic on the website has climbed into the double digits, Miller said. Penton layered both proprietary and off-the-shelf technologies to build a platform that is easier to navigate and access via multiple devices, she said. The changes coincide with new Microsoft product releases that have increased demand for content among the audience of information technology professionals that the brands serve. The March releases are just the beginning, Miller said. “The goal of getting a site redesigned and onto a new platform is really about setting the baseline to move forward,” she said. “We'll continue to make enhancements. We have all kinds of aspirations—more targeted behavioral work, better tracking of what we are doing, looking at analytics and tying that back more deeply. The real work begins now that we have the site framework.”
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