Canadian Magazine Industry News
28 January 2008,     VANCOUVER
New Gardens West website blossoms

When the Gardens West website continuously crashed, editor Dorothy Horton knew something needed to be done. So the glossy’s staff recently partnered with website engineering company New Creation Consulting to redesign the site, which was unveiled early this year.

Gardens West has a paid circulation of 32,182.

“It’s brighter and more cheerful,” Horton says of the site. The website and magazine now “have a similar feeling,” she adds. A lot of photographs from the magazine are used online, all taken by “natural photography” specialist Adam Gibbs.

Gardens West has been around for 21 years. The mag prints two editions, West Coast and Southern B.C. and Prairie and Northern B.C., that are now both available to browse online.

Changes have also been made to subscriber services. Previously, the site automatically selected the edition a subscriber received based on the postal code entered. Horton says prospective readers can now specify which issue and version of the magazine they prefer.

Readers cannot access full articles online, but are able to read summaries and “blurbs”. The site is organized into sections and tabs that correspond with the print edition. Henry Young, the magazine’s subscription manager, says the teasers encourage people to buy the glossy. “Basically we want to promote subscriptions and selling of our back issues,” Young says.

Horton expects the new site will increase revenues for Gardens West. She says the improvements have enticed clients to place ads on the page, while the old site did not have room for advertising.

That said, the editor is careful to note that she won’t allow the site to become ad-heavy. “We do very well because we have such a solid subscriber base,” she says, noting the magazine’s renewal rates average over 70 per cent each year.  “We’re reader driven, we’re not ad driven.”

— Michelle Singerman
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