Habitat Magazine Sets Out For Site Redesign

In late 2015, Habitat Magazine was quickly adopting new forms of interactive media to drive audience engagement to their website, Habitatmag.com. Editors were creating podcasts, the site featured Board Talk, an active community forum, and the company was developing a separate e-learning platform. With the ever growing use of social media, the website—which was powered by eZ Publish since its inception—was becoming increasingly popular. Publisher and Editor in Chief Carol Ott decided it was the right time for a complete redesign. She also wanted to migrate old print issues into an easy-to-navigate archive so visitors could discover more content and enhance the digital experience. 

Ott had been working with the agency Mugo Web, a Vancouver-based eZ Partner, for several years, and she was confident they were the right match to manage the site’s transformation.

“We’ve had a relationship with Mugo Web since 2010,” Ott said. “They provided maintenance and support services for our site, so it was an easy decision to use them for this project. They are experts with eZ’s content management software.” 

About Habitat Magazine
Habitat Magazine is an American real estate magazine founded in 1982 aimed at New York City co-op boards, condominium associations and related professionals such as attorneys and managing agents. The print magazine focuses on the needs and concerns of co-op/condo boards in the metro area, while its website adds features of a more general interest for co-op/condo board directors, residents, buyers and sellers. 

Establishing Clear Goals For The Project

After a collaborative planning process, Ott and the Mugo team defined a set of objectives for the project, including:

• A modern, responsive front-end design to improve the brand’s identity, cater to mobile users and entice prospective advertisers. 

• A more efficient way for editors to create and publish content through flexible, modular page layouts that they could change without developer support.

• Migration of older magazine issues dating as far back as 2002.

• A centralized user authentication system with the ability to easily move users between the different subscription levels. 

Habitat's new website and its popular community forum, Board Talk 

Design and Implementation of Habitat’s New Website

Habitat hired an experienced designer recommended by Mugo Web to define the front-end look and feel of the site. Meanwhile, Mugo was in charge of all the work behind the scenes—improving functionality on the back-end of the site as well as migrating content and adding new paywall features.

“The most time-consuming part of our digital transformation was deciding how the website would  look,” Ott said. “The relationship with Mugo Web was fabulous. They had worked with the designer before and we were satisfied with the work. It was a painless experience and we were in constant communication.”

Giving More Control to Editors

To facilitate creating and publishing content more efficiently, Mugo Web implemented the eZ Flow extension on the back end of eZ Publish. With eZ Flow, editors can define multiple “zones” within a page. In each of these zones, editors can create “blocks” that contain particular content such as articles and videos. Using eZ Flow, editors can control the placement and flow of content on a page without burdening IT.

“What took an hour to post before now takes a matter of minutes,” Ott said.

With eZ Flow, Habitat was able to streamline maintenance of the home page. Featured content begins its journey at the top of the page in a slider and over time moves further down the page as new content is added.

“eZ Flow simplifies how Habitat’s editors manage the front-end of the site and the feature enables content to be in constant rotation with minimal maintenance,” said Peter Keung, Managing Director of Mugo Web. “Editors can focus on what they do best—creating new content.”

Habitat Magazine's home page features an innovative article slider. Implementing eZ Flow, new content migrates to the bottom of the page over time. 

Migrating Habitat Magazine’s Archives

Ott decided to migrate over 14 years of Habitat’s print back issues into eZ Publish. The archive had previously been hosted on a separate database. Because of
eZ Publish’s flexible semantic repository, it was a straightforward process for Mugo to define the right fields for the articles and migrate all the content.

Habitat’s website now has integrated all the articles of the magazine dating back from 2002 to the present day, and users can easily search and access articles and issues from the archive.

Users can easily search the archive for pressing issues in the greater NYC area real estate community. 

User Authentication and Paywall

Habitatmag.com has multiple levels of subscriptions for users who are interested in accessing older content on the site. One can buy a daily or weekly pass to the archive of back issues or subscribe for yearly access. Originally, print, digital and board talk users were in three separate databases. Metering and content delivery was handled by separate systems and the archive of old issues was managed in a separate application from eZ Publish. This fragmentation made it difficult to manage all users in one place and easily upsell them on higher levels of content.

“eZ Publish not only serves all of the content, but also knows the user’s subscription level, making it possible for Habitat to upsell users to higher subscription levels,” Keung said. “Since the conversion of the user level is, in simplistic terms, a property on the same user account rather than a group of separately managed user records, it is a much more efficient process.”

Mugo Web resolved this issue by integrating all users into a single database hosted by Habitat Magazine’s circulation fulfillment company. The registration of users is done on the print fulfillment company side and the user is sent back to habitatmag.com, where their credentials are verified via the fulfillment company’s API. By migrating all content into eZ Publish, the CMS now takes care of all the metering and content delivery.

Habitat's readers can choose from a variety of subscription options. All of the user data is managed centrally and integrated with eZ Publish CMS for metering and content delivery

Better Advertising Experience

Habitat Magazine’s advertising revenue comes in part from banner ads on the website. Prior to the redesign, Habitat used a third party system to present the site on mobile devices, and had to juggle separate ad sizes. The responsive redesign has simplified matters significantly, and now allows advertisers who have purchased banner ads on certain sections of the site to appear on the mobile version also.

There are many other revenue-generating parts of the site: the business resource guide, issue preview videos, Ask the Expert videos, and podcasts. Many of the advertisers are professional services firms and raising awareness of their brand is of utmost importance to them.

“Advertisers were very satisfied with the new look of the site,” said Ott. “Our advertising strategy is based on building relationships with the readers and increasing our advertiser’s brand awareness over time.” 

Habitat Magazine is a classic New York story, providing valuable content to an interesting and specialized market.  It was a great experience upgrading the site to meet the publisher’s goals and position them well for continued evolution. They’ve really taken advantage of eZ’s content management system.

Peter Keung

Habitat Magazine’s website provides condominium and co-op owners a one stop shop to interact with other owners as well as learn about the latest happenings in the NYC real estate world. 

Next Steps

Habitat Magazine recently launched an e-learning platform. Ott plans to offer various courses to the community, educating co-op and condominium board directors, owners and first time buyers. Habitat also offers unique forms of content, from sponsored podcasts to newsletters and videos. With a future proof website running on eZ Publish, Ott has the flexibility to deliver and promote more digitally relevant content on the site in the future.

I am very excited for Habitat’s continued growth as we launch new products and digital offerings. We are proud to serve the New York real estate community and provide a great customer experience. eZ and Mugo Web have helped us manage our content wisely and ensure we are prepared for the future.

Carol Ott
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