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NÖN Niederösterreichische Nachrichten





A few years ago, in 2015, the Lower Austrian Press House appointed STRG to overhaul the portals of and and bolster their technical relaunch, combined with an exchange of the Content Management System (CMS) with the semantic STRG.cms. We worked closely with the NÖN online team, and the implementation started after a comprehensive conception phase. In June 2016, the successful relaunch of both portals and took place, and in 2017, the portal was also re-launched using STRG.cms.


Both portals, and had already been subjected to a complete relaunch in 2014, which had a positive impact on growing unique client values. However, when the time came to implement a modern content architecture, we found that we were restricted due to the limited technical means made available to us. The time-to-web was undeniably taking too long for a medium that relies on the continuous stream of news, and data-driven publishing was limiting. For these reasons, the Niederösterreichische Pressehaus had to bring their digital projects to a completely new technological level. In STRG, they found a provider who could help carve the way into the world of semantic web and data-driven publishing.

Peter Hofbauer, chief digital officer at NÖN / BVZ Group, explains their goals:

“We wanted to take a big step forward with advanced technology and further optimize our portals to cater to our users and business customers. Also, our aim was to collect the results from our user survey – sent to a sample of more than 3,500 participants – following the extensive analysis. By improving the page’s performance, we enhanced the user experience. We also created a space for the greatest possible flexibility for innovative forms of advertising and content marketing, which were our main goals in this project.”


In the first step, all areas of the web portals were subjected to a fundamental analysis. The focus was on maximizing the flexibility to be able to adequately respond to the respective regional and subregional news situations on all channel pages and to be able to offer the user appropriate, additional content on the article pages and other landing pages. To increase the time spent on the portals, this flexibilization could be mapped in STRG.cms so that the workload for the editors gets reduced long-term.


The basic design concept for the web portals and has been developed by the NÖN Graphic and has already proven its efficiency after two years in use. This basic concept has explicitly been refined on the article pages by our Art Direction, and it was further expanded in such a way that the content and its design elements are enhanced and well-positioned.


The daily data, images, multimedia files, different feeds from multiple sources in real-time, and the online editorial can be improved and converted into content elements in just a few simple steps. On the other hand, the most decisive content sources are the exports from the editorial system required for the print issues of NÖN and BVZ, as well as articles and images created by the individual editorial teams in the regions. The multichannel strategy pursued by the STRG for years feeds all elements of the content repository—in addition to the right placement in the portals—to a wide variety of output channels, such as newsletters, social media, and e-papers.


The less-than-ideal URL structure of the legacy portals and was a major motivating factor for the technical relaunch. The main challenge we were faced with was not to cause a temporary decline by changing the URL structure in the rankings of the search engines after the relaunch. Together with the Niederösterreichische Nachrichten, we developed a structure that takes the requirements of SEO into account, the interval content, and the regional dimensions to keep it consistent and obvious for the user.


An essential tool for a gentle transition, from the print world to the digital experience is an e-paper solution for the Niederösterreichische Pressehaus (available as a paid product). For each of the 35 regional editions of NÖN and BVZ, there is a weekly e-paper edition. In the STRG.cms an enrichment of the E-Papers takes place through online content and a payout into the e-paper provided by Fa. Open Research Solution. To allow synchronization of the ERP system of the NÖN and the STRG.cms, we set up a bidirectional interface. Moreover, we set up and completed the different payment processes for one-time payments and subscriptions processed on the website.


For this project, STRG.cms has been customized in many areas to best support the 35 Regional Editors, the Central Online Editors and the Sales Team in their work, and to enable a flexible and productive way of working.


The first step was to create the data models for the project-specific object types. These include many different types, such as agency feeds, quizzes, sweepstakes, videos, and event and ticket feeds or job offers. They indicate the rich, complementary content offerings on the portals. The STRG.cms is a true multichannel and multi-portal strategy: there is a content and media pool that can be used by all portals, and channels can be filled. The filling takes place either manually or rule-based – per the specific requirements of the editors. The rights and release processes of the editors are also mapped via the STRG.cms and optimized to minimize stereotyped work steps to save the editor’s valuable time to be able to use the actual content creation.


NÖN-Tech-Team primarily developed the mobile-optimized version. The STRG team set up a separate, “mobile” grid in the content management system to allow the filling of the mobile portal with content from the pool easily.


NÖN offers the user no less than 28 regional issues; for the BVZ, there are another 7 issues. These outputs were mapped as separate channels in STRG.cms, but have a similar structure in many areas. Being able to roll out similar structures on some or all regional channels – while being flexible enough to be able to make specific changes for individual regions when needed, was one of the main challenges in this project. The STRG project team, led by Eugen Lindorfer, has considerably expanded the grid system of STRG.cms for NÖN, to offer the user manageable regionally relevant content, especially on the article pages of the regional channels. Thus, the content of information on NÖN increases and extends the users’ retention period on the portal.

Based on the regional structure of NÖN, we significantly expanded the technical implementation of the regional concept, and it can now also map regional “life worlds” with granularity down to individual municipalities.


During this project, STRG also took over the planning and setup of the hardware, as well as the ongoing maintenance and system administration. The high-availability cluster system “DRBD,” which has been tried and tested in the STRG for a long time, has proved particularly advantageous here. Together with the “SpunQ.FS” file system developed by the STRG, this ensures the uninterrupted operation of the web portals. Another challenge the system administrator had to deal with was the simultaneous requirement of short caching times (to ensure timely updates when the message status changes). With short server-side delivery times, this is where the STRG has been relying for a long time on the use of the open-source HTTP accelerator “Varnish,” which ideally fulfills both requirements with its “Grace Mode”.


Friedrich Dungl, (now fmr) Managing Director of the Niederösterreichische Pressehaus, was pleased to note:

“From my point of view, numbers are the key. But outstanding numbers can only be achieved if, at the same time, the satisfaction of our readers increases with the offer. So far, we can see how the Visibility Index has increased significantly. The crawling keywords have already grown by more than 30%, and the traffic on the portal speaks this language. “After the relaunch, there were no burglaries; the improvements were immediately noticeable.”

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