Hobby Farms, a tastemaker in the small-scale farming scene, was in dire need of a fresh coat of paint.
The publication (both print and digital iterations) had been in production for well over a decade when I took over as the editorial director for the digital arm of Lumina Media in 2014. So it wasn't entirely surprising that website I inherited was a clunky mess attached to a terrifying home-grown CMS. (When I say terrifying, imagine doing FTP uploads as part of your editorial process in 2014. I still cringe involuntarily thinking about it.)
In 2015, as we started having discussions about what Lumina's site standard should be across the company's then-16 properties, our product lead and I met with a UX specialist to create requirements for modern, mobile-friendly wireframes. Hobby Farms would be the first Lumina property to use these designs.
The project, which came to completion in March 2016 (development started January 2016), required the following content elements:
- Designing taxonomies that were up to 2016 SEO standards.
- Migrating all content from the ancient CMS into Wordpress, and vetting the quality after.
- Also migrating and vetting all content from UrbanFarmOnline.com (a small urban farming site we maintained despite the title being out of circulation print magazine-wise) and carving out an urban farming section on the new Hobby Farms site.
- Creating a section for content from Chickens, a print magazine in the Hobby Farms group of brands.
- Developing a new editorial calendar for regular online production: this would include a frequently-updated "trending" section for small farm-centric news items and videos that would be distributed on social media.
These were ambitious goals in addition to all the dev and design work that comes with launching a site on a tight schedule, but despite multiple migrations (to solve for missing images or authors, etc.) we launched the site in record time.
The taxonomies alone were an elaborate project. We went from a handful of poorly-named sections to 13 heavily-researched level one categories (with the help of a SEO consultant), with over 100 targeted level two categories mapped to these. And once they were in place, thousands of articles had to be mapped by hand (automation could only do so much).
Like all sites, it continues to be a work in progress, but the current incarnation is still light years from what we were handed. More importantly, it allows us to better showcase our editorial work -- a mix of how-tos for hobby and urban farmers, columns featuring snippets of farm life, recipes and DIY projects, tips for seasonal planting and more. See the most current Hobby Farms digital content here.
And just for fun, here are some recent covers (2016, 2017) from the print magazine: