About the project
A few years ago, in 2015, the Lower Austrian Press House appointed STRG. to overhaul the portals of noen.at and bvz.at 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 noen.at and bvz.at took place and in 2017, the portal nitelife.at was also re-launched using STRG.CMS.
Both portals noen.at and bvz.at had already been subjected to a complete relaunch in 2014, which had a positive impact in growing unique client values. However, when the time came to implement a modern content architecture, we found that were restricted due to the limited technical means made available to us. The time-to-web undeniable was 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 onto 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 in the technology and to further optimize our portals to cater to our users as well as our 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. Improving the page performance and user experience, as well as the greatest possible flexibility for innovative forms of advertising and content marketing, were our main goals in this project ”
REVISION OF THE INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE
The first step in all areas of the web portals was 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 situation on all channel pages and to be able to offer the user appropriate, additional content on the article pages and other landing pages. In order to increase the time spent on the portals, this flexibilisation could be mapped in STRG.CMS in such a way that the workload for the editors is overall reduced.
The basic design concept for the web portals noen.at and bvz.at has been developed by the NÖN Grafik and had 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 so that the content and its design elements are enhanced and well-positioned.
OPTIMIZING DATA INTERFACES
The daily data, images and multimedia, feeds from multiple sources in real-time, and the online editorial can improve and converted into content element 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 CTRL for years feed all elements of the content pool – in addition to where is the right placement in the portals – to a wide variety of output channels, such as newsletters, social media and e-papers.
SEO CONCEPT AND URL STRUCTURE
The less than ideal URL structure of the legacy portals noen.at and bvz.at 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 into account the requirements of SEO, the interval content and the regional dimensions to keep it consistent and obvious for the user.
An essential tool for bringing users gently from the print world to the digital world is an e-paper solution for the Niederösterreichische Pressehaus, which is available to users as a paid product. 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, a bi-directional interface was set up. Moreover, we set up and completed the different payment processes for one-time payments and subscriptions done on the website.
For this project, CTRG.CMS has been customised 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 and sweepstakes, videos, but also event and ticket feed or job offers. They indicate the rich, complementary content offerings on the portals. The STRG.CMS is a true multi-channel 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.
MOBILE OPTIMIZED VERSION
NÖN-Technik primarily developed the mobile-optimized version. The STRG set up a separate, “mobile” grid in STRG.CMS for the filling of the mobile portal from the content to allow pool easily.
CHALLENGES IN THE PROJECT
REGIONALIZATION, FLEXIBLE CHANNEL PAGES AND WORLDS OF LIFE
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 CTRL.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 regionalised relevant content, especially on the article pages of the regional channels. Thus the content of information of 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 a granularity down to individual municipalities.
HIGH AVAILABILITY AND CACHING
During the course of this project, CTRL also took over the planning and setup of the hardware, as well as the ongoing maintenance and system administration. The use of the high-availability cluster system “DRBD”, which has been tried and tested in the CTRL for a long time, has proved particularly advantageous here. Together with the “SpunQ.FS” file system developed by the STRG, this ensures uninterrupted operation of the web portals. Another challenge the system administrator had to deal with was the simultaneous requirement of the short caching times (to ensure timely updates when the message status changes). With short-server-side delivery times, this is where the CTRG has been relying for a long time on the use of the open-source HTTP accelerator “Varnish”, which ideally fulfils both requirements with its “Grace Mode”.
BEFORE AND AFTER
As early as July 2016, Friedrich Dungl, 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 clearly. “” After the relaunch, there were no burglaries – the improvements were immediately noticeable. ”