A region-wide publishing group with a 150 year history, DnG Media came to us to develop DnG24, their digital presence. Their incumbent site was a custom build CMS which required manual administration and slowed down their workflow, resulting in sporadic updates and a very low traffic rate.
Our challenge was to construct a digital platform which required minimal updates from the editorial staff, syncing with social platforms and providing a paid advertising system to cater for the local business market – with a 12 week timescale to carry out the project.
Prior to commencing work, we arranged a consultancy session with DnG to allow us to accurately assess their requirements without incurring large costs or tying them in to a project contract. We worked on-site to meet with the editorial team and discover how they worked; from this, we were able to determine that their publishing system supported story exporting via FTP/XML – perfect for publishing to the web without interrupting user workflow.
Based on this research, we put together a comprehensive proposal for taking DnG’s content into the digital realm. Our proposal involved automatic publication of story assets – copy and images – into a customised WordPress install, with support provided through a custom shortcode for WordPress features such as tags, drafts, embargos, and story placement on the new site. Our proposal also covered development of a Breaking News system; takeover, MPU and banner advertising; and automatic social sharing for all stories.
Our proposal having met with approval, we worked with DnG’s internal development company – Conformedia – to integrate our two systems to work together seamlessly, while our design team worked to put together a fresh look and feel for the site – both mobile (a heavy-usage platform, we predicted) and desktop versions. We then followed an eight-week development schedule to build the new site, feeding back to the client via weekly update meetings, before cross-platform testing the full site internally.
In order to populate the site and monitor real-world performance, we spent a fortnight live-testing with the editorial team. This allowed site admins to get into the habit of publishing stories to the web, using the options shortcodes, and learning to use the more advanced features of WordPress as well as providing additional feedback to our team.
DnG24 launched at the beginning of May 2015 – just before the General Election, which became the first Breaking Story to appear on the site (with a little help from our team on the night). Audience figures doubled immediately, with a print campaign also helping move the site up the rankings. It’s now providing a first-class news resource for the Dumfries and Galloway region, with strong advertising sales for the company supported by a fast-growing user base.