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Going beyond pageviews: Our State modernizes its website with Web Publisher PRO

Our State is known for celebrating the very best of North Carolina, with stunning photography and classic storytelling. It’s the kind of regional magazine that people like to display on their coffee tables and talk about with friends. With a history that dates back to 1933, Our State has cultivated an upscale aesthetic, and it has a dedicated base of loyal readers.

While Our State’s print edition has evolved to keep up with the times, its online presence had been overlooked for many years. By 2019, it was time for an update. Web Publisher PRO was brought in to help modernize Our State’s website, with a fresh design and a stronger back-end that would support customization and new brand-building features.

“The magazine itself has a very distinct look and feel. There is a lot of wonderful photography, but it was hard to get that to translate to the web,” says Our State Digital Manager Jeremy Markovich.

Together with the help of Web Publisher PRO, Markovich spearheaded the project.

The magazine had not done a website redesign since 2015, and although the website was mobile-friendly, it was lacking in a number of other areas. The website’s age created limitations on what Our State’s staff could do when it came to customizing the look of online articles and other web content. Outside of the design, Markovich says it was important that the website could be developed with search engine optimization in mind.

“I was responsible for figuring out how we translate this great 80+ year old publication, whose print subscriptions have actually been increasing quite a bit over the last six months to a year. How do we translate that to online? How do we bring that to life in different ways that people might encounter digitally?”

The Partner

Deciding that it was time for a website refresh was only the first step in the project. Markovich recounts looking at CMS providers that seemed too expensive and agencies that took too much of a holistic approach combining marketing and strategy. That wasn’t what Our State was looking for.

When the time came to decide on a company that would build out Our State’s new website, Markovich was introduced to Web Publisher PRO. He was impressed that Web Publisher PRO could handle the redesign of Our State’s website and also be there for support on an ongoing basis.

“We needed a really good redesign, but also we needed a really good partner. Having that, and knowing there is a team of people in place, is what we were looking for.”

With the right team, Markovich and his partners at Web Publisher PRO got started reimagining Our State’s online persona.

Our State website design

The Process

The first decision was an easy one — Our State would stick with WordPress. As the most popular platform for digital publishers, WordPress could support Our State and offer the functionality that the magazine needed from a content perspective. Our State’s existing site needed to be brought up to date and customized to get the most out of the WordPress platform.

Having cleaned up the back-end of Our State’s website, Web Publisher PRO’s team started finding solutions to optimize page load times and SEO, so Our State’s articles would rank higher on search engines like Google and Bing.

Brand Identity

The design that Web Publisher PRO came up with is a visual refresh that matches with the Our State brand. It takes advantage of white space and leaves ample room for large, high-resolution images. The new website design also showcases popular features from the print magazine. The website design takes full advantage of video, podcasts, newsletters, and other features that Our State can’t offer to readers through its print edition alone.

In addition to matching the publisher’s overall brand aesthetic, the new website includes some behind-the-scenes features that will allow Markovich to continue expanding in the future, as the needs of his team evolve over time.

“We have a good base to start on, but in the future as we staff up, we will have a good place to go, as well.”

Beyond Pageviews

Web Publisher PRO’s new website design has led to an increase in pageviews, but that isn’t all that Our State was looking for in this project. Markovich says he was hoping to see an increase in time on site, as well. It’s important that people are browsing more than one page, and that they are staying on the Our State website for long enough to read the articles and enjoy the long-form content.

“When people encounter us online, they may not know the magazine. The website is their first introduction.”

Knowing that the website could be a reader’s first look at the publication meant choosing a design that matched the aesthetic of Our State’s print edition. The final design that Web Publisher PRO came up with is cleaner, lighter, and airier. It connects with Our State’s print publication and ensures that people know what the brand is all about.

During a time when many media businesses are struggling, Markovich says Our State is holding steady. Web traffic is solid, and subscribers are up. He attributes this largely to the new website and anticipates seeing even more growth moving forward.

“There has been a lot of shifting around because of the uncertain times we’re in, but I think having an easy platform and getting people involved is helping us, so that has been a solid thing.”

FROM THE CLIENT

Jeremy Markovich

“We needed a really good redesign, but also we needed a really good partner. Having that, and knowing there is a team of people in place, is what we were looking for.”

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