NEW YORK—Hearst Magazines is aiming to improve its digital strategy through the integration of HTML5, the company announced plans early Tuesday to implement the platform on the majority of its websites through out the fourth quarter of 2011 and into 2012, according to Mark Weinberg, vice president of programming and product strategy for Hearst Digital Media.
The platform’s integration with the brand has begun with a complete redesign and relaunch of GoodHousekeeping.com, which was once named one of the worst magazine websites on the Internet. The newly revamped site, which went live five days ago and was designed over the last year, is now compatible with the majority of all commonly used devices.
“This project forms the basis for the kind of site structure that we expect to roll out to the rest of the network over the next six to 18 months,” Weinberg told reporters during a walk through of the new website in the Hearst App Lab. “We have a number of sites that we’re in the process of redesigning and relaunching now and they will be relaunched fundamentally on the same kind of code base of HTML5 and they will designed to be multi-platform. The kind of innovations we’ve baked into the Good Housekeeping relaunch will drive where we go with the rest of the network sites.”
According to a spokesperson for Hearst, the titles acquired in the Hachette deal will be the first properties to undergo the change, with the company’s staple brands to follow.
“This project has allowed us to create a number of formats, templates and essentially code bases that we can now apply to future redesigns and upgrades to all the sites in the network,” he said. “Our plan is to [upgrade] as quickly as possible because we really believe in this multi-platform access feature.”
The Good Housekeeping website was one of the first digital portals that was designed and built for the Hearst network and was “badly in need of updating,” Weinberg said, which is why the publisher selected the brand to be the first with HTML5 integration.
“This was a great opportunity for us to go from sort of a state of affairs that was performing well but not particularly functioning all that well for us, to a state of the art website,” he said.
The Good Housekeeping website, with the new platform, can now be displayed and function well on almost every platform, which includes traditional computer browsers, mobile devices and tablets.
Some of the new features of the website include all of the Good Housekeeping Research Institute’s product reviews and test results—about 1,200 are currently available and by the end of 2011 around 3,000 will be accessible. Over time, all of the reviews in the archive will be integrated, which are offered to users for free through a new navigable tool.
This is also the first version of GoodHousekeping.com that is completely integrated with social networking platforms. If a user comments on an article it will also be posted on the reader’s personal Facebook page, an attempt to drive traffic to the site.
Google’s +1 social networking buttons are also integrated in the new site.
GoodHousekeeping.com also has new categories like “Holidays” and “Product Reviews” as well. A new promotional player, or rotator, is featured on the site’s homepage and is now highly functional in the new format.
“This slide show or rotator is touch enabled, depending on the device you’re using, and that’s one of the things that’s wonderful with HTML5,” says Eric Gillin, group director for Hearst Digital Media, who spent about six months on the sites redesign. “We can use HTML5 to have it work the way we would like it to work depending on the device the reader has.”
The touch screen enabled promotional player is one of the features that will begin to roll out across the network of Hearst sites in the near future. Overall, the new platform provides a greater fluidity between the magazine’s website and its apps.
“The site is based on HTML5 which is more comprehensively used in this site than practically any other media site that we know of,” Weineberg said. “This site has boldly gone into a design that is based on HTML5—this creates for us for the first time a site that is fully multi-platform.”