Feb, 11 2016

St. Louis Homes & Lifestyles Magazine

Client

St. Louis Homes & Lifestyles is a local female-owned publication that features urban and suburban homes, outdoor living spaces and communities unique to the St. Louis area. Geared towards the luxury home enthusiast, each issue inspires creativity with stunning local homes, current design trends, and remodeling projects.

The magazine’s website, www.stlouishomesmag.com, serves as an interactive magazine. It is the publication’s online home for content, inspiration, and connection between readers and experts.

Challenge

After finding us in an internet search for local Drupal experts, St. Louis Homes & Lifestyles came to Blayzer for help with their previous website. The list of problems was long and growing, encompassing everything from design and programming to content management and marketing integration.

  • Not mobile-friendly – an absolute must!
  • Not content-friendly – content wasn’t updating in real time
  • Not user-friendly – content was hard to find and navigate due to the underlying database structure

Strategy

After taking a closer look under the hood during the process of putting together an accurate project bid, Blayzer’s web development experts confirmed that all of the reported issues could be attributed to one main problem with the website:  it wasn’t modern. It was running on a now-outdated version of Drupal with old code and a lagging infrastructure.

When a site reaches this point in its lifecycle, there is no reasonable amount of “fixing” (designing, patching up, plugging in, or adding on) that can truly solve the problem. The best solution in these cases is to rebuild the solution. This was Blayzer’s strategy for St. Louis Homes & Lifestyles.

First, we went with a clean, elegant design look that allows the magazine’s photographic content to take center stage. Once we had settled on the home page design and internal feature layouts, our developers got to work on building the website in the latest and greatest version of Drupal, the client’s preferred content management system. With the development of the site we created a number of custom features specifically for St. Louis Homes & Lifestyles.

Home Page

First we created the home page with multiple customizable rows that pull information from various content sections on the site – articles, galleries, experts, and more.

Galleries

Speaking of the galleries, the image view function there is custom, too.

Social Media Integration

We integrated social media buttons and feeds throughout for easy flow of users between the site and Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

In-Site Blog & Website Content Organization

We added an in-site blog to maximize SEO power and optimized the organization of articles and content. Users can now easily find and navigate content by type, category, and magazine issue. This underlying database development is what helps the site achieve its goal of interactivity.

Admin Panel

Last but not least, we equipped the site with a robust custom admin panel that allows St. Louis Homes & Lifestyles staff to quickly and easily add and organize content in real time. Of course, we also provided hands-on training to teach the team members how to use the new site.

Solutions

The St. Louis Homes & Lifestyles rebuild utilized solutions from nearly every department in our shop:

  • Strategy – Audited previous solution and architected a plan to update
  • Design – Fully mobile-responsive website design
  • Development – Complete Drupal build with custom homepage, galleries, content structure, Ask an Expert, social integrations, and admin panel

Results

Here’s what Blayzer delivered for St. Louis Homes & Lifestyles:

  • Fully customized Drupal website that lives up to the name of “interactive magazine”
  • Mobile-friendly for users on smartphones, tablets, phablets, and more.
  • Custom home page with feature rows that easily link to content categories, galleries, expert listings and more
  • Custom photo galleries with fast loading images for a beautifully smooth user experience
  • Better content organization to maximize user engagement on the site as they flow from one item to the next
  • Custom Find an Expert feature to connect readers with design and contracting professionals
  • Easy admin panel for adding and categorizing content in real time
  • Full social media integration throughout the site – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & Pinterest
  • Integrated on-site blog with subscription capability
  • Client training and coaching to teach admins how to use and manage the site

Project Images

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