- Migration from Ingeniux CMS to WordPress
- A custom-built theme and style guide for MBA Newlink website
- Custom Gutenberg development to recreate newsletter design in the WordPress admin
- Integrated ads and content ingestion into newsletter issues
- Hands-on training sessions and ongoing support
About Mortgage Bankers Association
The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) is the United States national association representing all facets of the real estate finance industry. With headquarters in Washington, D.C., MBA represents over 2,300 member companies.
They approached rtCamp to redesign their current newsletter modules using WordPress for improving their conversion rate (increasing the audience base) and revamping the editorial workflows (enhancing the editors’ experience of publishing content and newsletter on their site).
In the old system, each of the stories of the newsletter had a predetermined location on the template. Once the stories were created, the editorial team had to load them into the designated slot. This entire process of creating an issue with multiple stories took a day’s time.
The previous two-column design of MBA NewsLink emphasized more on the Top National News generated by other publications, thereby pushing down the valuable stories generated by the client’s editorial team.
This also resulted in a loss of paid ads as the ads slots would go further down the page. Ad spaces would go unsold and the client had to rely on inhouse ads instead.
There was a need for a redesign that would move these stories and ad spaces further up the “fold” while still providing key real estate for Top National News, and cementing NewsLink as a reliable and trusted source to MBA members for news and information.
Our experience with rtCamp was fantastic. Despite the time constraints and being halfway around the world, rtCamp hammered out a workable design and content management system in time for us to go live. They also provided valuable training sessions.
We divided the project into three parts:
- Visual Design: UI and UX
- Newsletter creation workflow
- Feature Development
- Migration from old CMS
Visual Design: UI and UX
Web Design — Since NewsLink was hosted on a subdomain, we followed the original design of MBA.org. But since the existing site did not have a formal style guide, we created one based on existing elements for our needs as well as future usage.
Once we had a formal style guide in place, we used it to design templates for story pages and the newsletter.
Newsletter — We were commissioned to build a completely new design as the old newsletter design was outdated. Quite early in the design stage itself, we set up a goal to implement the newsletter design using Gutenberg blocks, an intuitive drag-and-drop editor.
The design team worked with our development team to finalize the UX for inserting stories, ads and other elements that are commonly added in newsletter issues but would require custom Gutenberg blocks. It all worked so well that the newsletter creation experience was showcased by WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg in his annual “State of the Word 2019” address.
After completing the design phase, we started working on the workflow for the newsletters using the Gutenberg Editor.
Using the block editor system ensured the MBA team could shuffle the sections and control the layout/interfaces of the newsletter design without involving the technical team. It also enabled the MBA team to create fresh interfaces using the custom Gutenberg blocks developed for the NewsLinks. We worked towards simplifying the overall editorial journey for the client in a manner that fairly looks like the image below:
We created a strategy to migrate the existing NewsLink newsletters from Ingeniux CMS to WordPress using export files. We divided the content migration process into four stages, as shown below:
- Current Newsletter Workflow Analysis
- Database Analysis
- Media Analysis (images, audio, video, pdf, zip or any other files)
- URL Mapping
After completing this four-stage analysis, we proceeded with the migration process.
The new WordPress system for NewsLink includes feature modules that will help MBA grow their audience base and thereby the revenue.
For easy backend interface management, the three NewsLink types (MBA NewsLink, Servicing NewsLink & Commercial/Multi-Family NewsLink) were segregated into three distinct sections. To retain the URL structure from the previous CMS, necessary taxonomies were registered.
We also developed a custom ‘Newsletter Template’ Gutenberg block which holds the structure of the Newsletter. This structure only requires the news articles to be populated and the MBA team can re-position the news stories within the newsletter template. Once this is filled, they can preview it right from the WordPress dashboard before hitting the send button.
Every Newsletter that is sent has two versions:
- Email-version – which is actually sent to the list of subscribers and the
- Web-version – a copy of the email version which is maintained on the website.
A link to the web version is also included in the email version so that readers can view the newsletter on the website. This helps drive traffic to the website as well.
The MBA team required different layouts for the email version (two-column) and the web version (three-column). We developed the backend interface in such a way that they will need only to add the content once and the two different layouts will be handled on the fly.
Both email & web versions were built with support to insert the ads from Google Ad Manager. This enabled the MBA team to sell ad space based on pages.
We provided demos, user acceptance testing, customer experience schedules and training to all the stakeholders who will be interacting with the new system. The training program included multiple online hands-on training sessions that covered the Gutenberg editor, WordPress navigation, newsletter creation, and custom menu creation.
The new system significantly saved the time and efforts of the editors in the creation of newsletters.
With WordPress CMS, the editorial team creates the entire newsletter in a more efficient manner. Loading the entire issue takes less than five minutes now and using Gutenberg allows the editors to easily sort and move the stories, photos, and graphics around as needed.
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