The Reader's Digest website is displayed on a tablet on a wooden desk alongside a closed notebook.

Developing a Contemporary, Mobile First Content Solution

Reader’s Digest has been a trusted magazine and staple in American homes for nearly 100 years. With a global reach spanning 70 countries, it is also the largest paid circulation magazine in the world.

Reader’s Digest embraced the web in 2000 and began publishing select articles online at RD.com. By 2006, the publication was reaching more readers with household incomes of $100,000+ than Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, Business Week and Inc. combined.

However, the RD.com digital experience was lagging. Mobile traffic on their flagship site had been growing faster than desktop for some time. Not only was mobile consistently representing over half of the site’s traffic, mobile views were spiking up to 90% for some specialized content. Almost three years old, the former site had not been optimized for mobile and the impact was clear: visitors weren’t sticking around, Google was close to penalizing SEO for non-mobile optimized sites, site load time and uptime was poor, and ad revenues were disappointing. RD.com needed a major overhaul to compete in a mobile-first world.

Oomph’s efforts to assist Reader’s Digest revolved around three components — a full redesign leveraging responsive design best practices, an under-the-hood overhaul of the existing RD.com content management system implementation, and major upgrades to the overall infrastructure and engineering workflows.

Three identical mobile devices are shown with different portions of the Reader's Digest website visible on their screens.

Results

Working in a mobile-first and article-first methodology, Oomph’s design and user experience team designed the new site from the inside out, completing a high fidelity prototype of the site’s most visited page template: the article page. As with most successful digital properties, the article page is truly the new home page as more visitors land on an article as a starting point from SERPs and social. An article-first approach helps solidify the crucial aspects of the site — the reading experience, circulation links, ad placements, sharing tools, and design patterns that can heavily influence other templates.

Solving the uptime and performance issues required both the site’s CMS implementation and hosting infrastructure to receive a complete overhaul. The site’s code base was audited, optimized and/or rewritten to adhere to best practices for security, speed, scalability, and ease of maintenance. In addition, Oomph led a thorough hosting vendor selection process, which ultimately led to a relaunch of RD.com on the WP Engine enterprise hosting offering.

With the launch of the new RD.com, the new site is attracting more mobile visitors than ever, search and overall traffic are up, and bounce rates have been reduced — all results we were driving for. We continue to work closely with the RD team to strive for even better results through an ongoing site optimization partnership.

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