Why Better Homes & Gardens Is Going Mobile-First
New site, new strategy for the core Meredith brand.
Better Homes & Gardens rolled out a new website this week and, with it, a new mobile-first strategy.
If you think mobile shouldn’t be a priority for the brand because of its core demo, think again. It's gaining huge traction through that channel, and the brand reports that almost half of its audience (49 percent) is under the age of 44.
With an emerging younger demographic and technology changing fast, the brand decided it was time for a change in order to expand its average digital audience of 9 million monthly unique visitors. Here, Folio: talks with Lory Stewart, general manager of digital at BHG, to learn more about the relaunch and the brand’s strategy.
Folio: First, how long was the old site active?
Lory Stewart: Probably five years now, obviously we’ve made some enhancement throughout there but not a big change with the design.
Folio: So what was the goal with the new build?
Stewart: Our goal with the new website was to have a more modern design that showcases the BHG imagery. We wanted to improve our mobile experience, improve the user experience around content discovery; daily content programming and we wanted to increase the page speed to make our users happier. So those are kind of the bigger goals that we had for the new site.
Folio: In terms of more granular features, is there anything new that you’re excited about?
Stewart: We’ve moved more to a modern usability feature so we have infinite scroll on our channel and category pages, more card layout, we’re better serving our content so videos, articles, slideshows, blogs, all of our content is going to be surfaced higher on the page so it gets to the user right away. The channel and category pages are by far our biggest change with the infinite scroll and card-type layout.
Folio: What needed to change with the UX?
Stewart: Our mobile environment wasn’t that great so we really focused on improving the mobile site experience with a responsive design. As I’ve said before we’ve moved to the more usable features by surfacing the content so we’re really thinking of mobile first.
Folio: What kind of data were you seeing from your users that led to a mobile-first strategy?
Stewart: Over 50 percent of our users are coming through mobile devices today and our mobile visits have nearly doubled since this time last year.
Folio: Did you also survey your readers or look for any kind of feedback from power users or was this all based on internal ideas?
Stewart: No, we get lots of emails from our readers so we take that into account. Also, we have our social users who are responding to us and then we also have focus group data. All that stuff helped with the new site concept.
Folio: Did you build this all in-house or did you work with a third party?
Stewart: We built it all in-house. We have a product centric organization that works in an agile environment. We have a dedicated Scrum team, we have a dedicated testing and design team, and we have great collaboration between product and technology, our editorial brand, advertising and design. All of these groups were really intimately involved in the refresh process.
Folio: Did you launch anything new or cooperate with advertising partners on getting the best viewability, better products for advertisers on this site?
Stewart: Yes, we integrated our advertising placements across our core pages more. We have our ads integrated within the card layout; we’ve eliminated the right rail on core pages and really integrated it within the content. Native is big for us, so getting native placed within all the different types of content. Obviously increased ad viewability was a big thing for us too.