Digital Media Publishing - Case Study


Winsight Media serves three industries - convenience retailing, restaurants and non-commercial foodservice. They provide audiences access to industry market intelligence with a portfolio of print and digital assets, world-class events, and Technomic’s channel-relevant strategic insights.

Together, these three industry segments account for $1.7 trillion in annual sales, 1.2 million operational sites and 15 million jobs. 

Winsight’s digital assets include multiple audience facing websites, newsletters, email, and social touch points. 

Various Things Live is a website and application development company based in Chicago that specializes in Drupal design and development.

The Challenge

Regarding digital, Winsight wanted to take audience engagement to the next level. They wanted the ability to interact with users in new and exciting ways. Tools, infrastructure, and designs needed to be upgraded, to allow Winsight the improved ability to “efficiently” implement new ideas and strategies quickly. 

Winsight was looking to accomplish a number of improvements, redesigns, new products, and brand launches within their digital publishing properties. The initiative was needed to be accomplished over an extended period of time, encompass multiple sub-projects and would provide Winsight editors, web production, audience development, and sales teams with improved cutting-edge products and tools.

The need was for more flexibility when publishing content and creating interactions with their digital-savvy audience. While at the same time, better positioning Winsight for the future with new digital tools, products and strategies, so they could adapt faster to changing market or business conditions.  

There was an additional requirement for integration of an outside Drupal design and development team to accommodate the timeline, and add additional skillsets, as needed. The additional team would be integrated with the in-house team and would provide guidance, expertise, and assistance on a variety of project topics.  Project information needed to be available to all stakeholders in an online real-time environment and managed in a customized agile environment.

Understanding of Winsight’s existing data architecture, content types, tagging, and taxonomies was a must with regard to working on issues of data migration, features development, and structure improvements. In addition, the back-end database was becoming more critically needed for enhanced understanding and insight analysis. Data structure needed to be updated and refined to better support a more robust data-driven decision support capability in understanding the user and anticipating their needs.

Both front and back-end UIs needed upgrades with capabilities that would be intuitive, modern and seamless in enabling more “speed” when testing and innovating new and creative ideas. Improvements to customer engagement and maximizing revenue opportunities would be an ongoing sustainable activity. 

Our Solution

The first task undertook was the understanding of the combined team dynamics and appropriate agile project methodology. Various online team collaborative communication tools, e.g. Jira and Slack, were implemented to facilitate and optimize communication on all the different aspects of the project.

Communication, transparency and honest candor between the combined team were key drivers in the successful planning, executing, and launching of all the different components. 

The clear and thorough understanding of the goals and requirements enabled predictability in VTL delivery and performance, over the last couple years with Winsight. Partnering with them on multiple projects, we’ve worked consistently on communicating real-time updates, maintaining change logs, helping prioritize tasks, and providing new and creative ideas and solutions.

Most of the Winsight projects involved a Drupal CMS, though not all – only when requirements dictated. Drupal is a robust framework and continues to improve and evolve as a premier digital publishing solution. 

The VTL and Winsight team collaborated in reviewing, analyzing and working with the data structure and taxonomies to clearly understand the opportunities and limitations provided. This understanding enabled better and smarter ideas and plans that led to the positive business outcomes described below.

Standard Drupal modules, like Paragraphs, were used in new and creative ways to build flexible and re-usable components. VTL’s deep understanding of Winsight’s data design and information architecture was instrumental in migrating, integrating and tagging of the content catalog.

Media, images, and other page elements needed to be responsive based on the different devices content could be consumed on. The Paragraph module gives you cleaner data structures so end-users have more editing power. It offers a rapid and straightforward workflow for content editors to take control over the flow of content.

Design and user journeys were modernized and simplified for a more appealing and engaging experience. The presentation layer and front-end work were innovative uses of CSS, HTML5 and the JavaScript described as “JavaScript candy”. The result was a system that let the content prescribe the best presentation rather than forcing the content into fixed preset layouts. ​

400% growth in traffic – 2X growth in engagement

The Results

Over the last 2 years Winsight has improved their user engagement with new digital capabilities and designs, as they are truly a company that understands the transformation reshaping the media industry. 

They have experienced phenomenal digital growth and are positioned well going into 2017. They have shown 400 percent growth in traffic and 2X growth in engagement. Time spent on their sites and page/views per visitor are at all-time highs.

Besides all the sites having record breaking months in terms of traffic and engagement, each has also significantly increased their social fan base and reach through a multifaceted digital and content strategy. 

More news and insights can be delivered through the rebuilt state-of-the-art websites, with their simplified designs, easier navigation, and improved data structure. Flexible and efficient web production put the power back with editors and the web production team to drive audience development.

“Production clicks” to enter, edit, and tag content have been streamlined and now enable improved tracking of user’s behavior and interests. The web pages can be laid-out and assembled as the creative editors and production staff desire to increase audience engagement, while the IT staff focuses on other initiatives.

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About Us

VTL is a leading interactive design, development, and technology consulting firm that assists organizations with user centered design (UCD) and website development solutions. What sets VTL apart from other agencies is that we provide an optimal blend of strategy, user experience, technology and creative expertise to deliver exceptional solutions that combine the best in form and function.

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