â€śI think this relaunch gives us a competitive advantage, especially since itâ€™s not the only thing weâ€™re doing,â€ť said Michelle Gray, associate publisher of Light Reading. â€śWe are also investing in new products and editorial. We post three to five original news analysis stories every day, at a time when competitors are cutting back.â€ť
Other new initiatives include the upcoming debut of Light Reading Asia and Light Readingâ€™s first virtual trade show, both scheduled for next month.
Warren Hultquist, director of Web operations at Light Reading, said the site relaunch plans were hatched early last year, prior to the economic meltdown. He said the group was able to take advantage of in-house resources and experience to proceed despite the downturn.
â€śWe are using a new home-grown publishing platform that we tested with the launches of two smaller sites, Internet Evolution and Contentinople,â€ť he said. Contentinople and Internet Evolution were new Web brands when they debuted in 2007.
One advantage of the new platform, Hultquist said, is its performance. â€śWith the old platform, we had a lot of legacy code that over time slowed things down,â€ť he said. â€śNow, itâ€™s much snappier.â€ť
The site has been redesigned to eliminate the visual clutter of a home page that included tinted boxes. The revised home page has a white background, is wider and has more space between the various elements.
Site navigation has been simplified with a set of tabs keyed to topic channelsâ€”such as broadband, ethernet, mobile and securityâ€”at the top of the home page above the logo.
â€śOne of our design goals was to give more obvious priority to specific things,â€ť Hultquist said. Light Reading TV is one of those. An LR TV box is now placed in the upper-right-hand corner of the home page, and a slider allows the user to browse thumbnails of 10 recent videos without leaving the page.
Another priority was to showcase and increase audience participation. While the site already had user comments and message boards, it now allows users to set up personal profiles, rate content and sign up for e-mail alerts that let users know when another user has responded to their comments.
The new site structure also gives additional flexibility to Light Reading clients. â€śWe can get more creative with lead generation, for example, by customizing registration questions for clients; and we can also make changes very quickly,â€ť Hultquist said.
â€śWe now have more opportunities to give advertisers home-page exposure because of the wider format,â€ť Gray added.
On story pages, rich media ad units called â€śvirtual channel adsâ€ť are positioned at eye level with related editorial content. â€śThe virtual channel is not a flat ad unit,â€ť Hultquist noted. â€śIt includes assets, like white papers, that the client can use for lead generation. We can now place these ads at the top of the page, just to the right of the headline of the story the user has selected so that they are targeted contextually.â€ť
Light Reading, an early Web-only b-to-b media site, was founded in 2000 and acquired by UBM in 2005 for $27 million. Unstrung, www.unstrung.com, was included in the deal. The group also includes Cable Digital News, an online b-to-b site acquired by Light Reading in 2006.