Years of Partnership Realized
Building a site—and a partnership—over five years of work, across dozens of projects.
Building a site — and a partnership.
How do you take 130+ years of print content and turn it into a partnership over five years in the making?
Ask The First Church of Christ, Scientist, who came to Blend looking for help to establish a new digital subscription product comprised of over 100 years of magazine content. This ground-breaking eZ Publish initiative has since led to dozens of other projects over the past half-decade, from mobile retrofits to a full-scale redesign of their flagship site.
It all started with publications.
The First Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston, Massachusetts (better known as “The Christian Science Church” and publisher of nationally-known news outlet The Christian Science Monitor) is world headquarters of the Christian Science Church. With more than 400 employees at its Boston campus, the Church shepherds the activities of its members and churches along with publishing a wide variety print and digital media in over 15 languages.
Just prior to meeting Blend, the Church decided to digitize 130 years of content comprised of over 275,000 articles and make it accessible to its members via a new web-based subscription product. In parallel, the Church embarked on an initiative to develop an overarching unified web presence that would simplify the visitor’s experience with a holistic presentation of its diverse set of web properties.
Our goal in working with The First Church of Christ, Scientist was three-fold:
- Establish a consistent web identity across all Christian Science properties.
- Develop a new site for the flagship property, ChristianScience.com.
- Develop new sites for the print publications Journal, Sentinel and Herald, thereby ushering them into the new world of web-first publishing.
A new flagship.
We began by taking the Church’s flagship property ChristianScience.com — a standard WordPress site with a patchwork of sub-sites and one-off blogs — and reigned in their siloed initiatives within a new site map and design. From there, we were able to take the overarching strategy to determine site users and the editorial process needed to reach them.
And reach them we did. Through an initial report after the redesign of the main Christian Science site, we saw a marked increase in new visitors, and traffic was funneled toward better, more relevant discovery content — much more than in years past. What's more, we drastically decreased the size and footprint of the site, going from roughly 8,000 pages to just 600, all with only a 4% decrease in total page views. Consolidation, better direction, and audience service: three steps toward a more usable site.
While this strategy focused on the main site, it was done understanding that all decisions would need to fit in with the migration and design work we had already done for the Journal, Sentinel and Herald. And thus a partnership was born.
A partnership five years in the making.
Instead of focusing on individual projects or tasks, we focus on the relationship between the two organizations. “We want to solve the problem, with an eye to the future,” says Joe Kepley, Blend’s chief technology officer. “We want to act in their best interest — not just get invoices paid.”
This relationship has lead to years of innovation. Together, Blend and the Church have moved four major print publications and its flagship property to eZ Publish along with the following projects:
- Integration of live audio events
- iTunes and Concord integration within ChristianScience.com and its publiations
- eZ Publish training to 20+ editors
- A fresh redesign of ChristianScience.com
- Editorial workflow innovations within eZ Publish
It’s a work in process, and one that gives us the kind of next-level challenges we thrive on. With a visual identity that covers the multiple properties without looking identical, each site is poised to become a unique part of the cohesive whole. We started with the basics, and we have gradually built the site ecosystem — and our own relationship with the Church — project by project, year by year.