News and community platform
Writers & Artists is an authoritative resource that unites representatives of the publishing industry into a single community: writers, editors, agents & publicists
We were approached by a client representing the international publishing house, Bloomsbury PLC, to assist in the redevelopment of the Writers & Artists website. The site was to be, not only the digital version of the Writers & Artists Yearbook, but also a complete eco-system for representatives of the literary community. Through it, users could; find expert advice articles, listen or watch interviews with authors, partake in writing competitions, join a lively & engaged community of those with similar interests, and perhaps even buy an editing service, to help them with the stage of the writing journey they may be on.
Analysis and suggestion
After an in-depth analysis of the business requirements, we decided that the core technology would be based on the Drupal CMS, with a series of customised modules, developed to support specific parts of the required functionality. This approach allowed us to be more efficient in some areas of the project, which in turn allowed us more time to focus on the more complex functionality. Resultantly, we could deliver all the required functionality to a highly customised level & standard, which we continue to support and maintain to this day.
Functionality & design
The site was developed to service a community based on a specific interest, in this case literary, artistic and creative arts. Through declared special interests and related subscriptions, the site served, or made available, content specific to the user’s interests.
Different content can be accessed based on subscription level. Much of the site is free to access, but some core information such as company listings (for Literary Agents, Publishers and Marketers) requires the user to pay for a subscription to access.
Users have the option to create a personal account on the site. In doing so they can interact with forums, contribute to discussions, receive feedback on their shared works and connect with like-minded creatives or groups with interests similar to themselves.
A Writer’s tool is words and information. As such the site contains a lot of rich content in many different formats to provide the user a wealth of insight into the writing process. Accordingly, we developed the technology to support elements such as: articles, blogs, videos, discussion threads, a glossary of relevant terms as well as multiple user-generated content channels. With so much content available, one of our main tasks was discoverability and implementing a UI that would assist the user navigate all of the available content and quickly find information pertinent to them. The logical UI and clear signposting was assisted further with the implementation of an advanced search functionality on the site.
In addition, the user can purchase ‘Editorial Services’ through the site. These are personal training modules where the user can share their writings with editors and agents from within the industry. We developed custom modules for these services which covered the whole process, from payment & purchase, through document sharing and chat functionality, to completion and final document creation – all of this is achieved within the specific workflows we created for each service type.
In order to encourage engagement and contribution on the site, we also created a ‘Rewards Points’ functionality, whereby users are rewarded for engagement through the provision of reward points that, cumulatively, unlocked specific discounts on books, services and other products sold on the platform.
With such an interactive site, with such an engaged community active on it, we felt that communication needed to be as instant as one would expect from a social media channel. Consequently, we implemented a CometChat integration to manage messaging. This core module supports both peer-to-peer and peer-to-group messaging in real-time. Public groups can be joined by a user, or the user can set up or be invited to a private group, but all groups employ this chat functionality, resulting in immediate and highly secure communication.
In addition to the online interaction, the Writers & Artists team also provide many in-person events across the UK & Ireland. We therefore developed the functionality to allow a user to search for events near to, and relevant to, them. Upon finding an event, they can book a place and pay for their ticket and, upon doing so, are immediately added to a group on the platform to make connection and get updates prior to the event taking place.
In order to help users remember content that is suitable for them, we developed the functionality to bookmark content. This allows users to quickly go back to content they have found without having to search the site for it again. In addition, users can add notes to any content type, thus increasing the personalisation of the experience and adding value accordingly.
Finally, we developed significant administrative functionality. The team at Writers & Artists can import/export content, view statistics on site usage, report on financial performance, manage content and mail the user base directly, in a number of ways, thus increasing understanding of user behaviour and managing the community as effectively as possible.
As a result, we created a modern, engaging and state-of-the-art web resource for this niche and growing market. Our team was engaged in all areas of the project, from design and UI, through the development cycle, on to test and release, and we continue to support the site to this day. Through the development of functionality to support significant content volumes, multiple user roles & subscriptions, personalised accounts, e-commerce & reward points processes, forums and real-time chat tools, we delivered a high-end solution applicable to those wishing to build a platform to service a community with a specific interest.