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Custom supplier directory

Political Pages is a directory of firms that provide services to candidates and groups on the U.S. political campaign trail. It is also a successful print-based supplement to Campaigns and Elections magazine.

By moving on-line, the directory has reached more customers, delivered new communication options such as video and audio, and generated new revenue for the publisher.

We took the directory on-line for the first time in 2011, and in 2012 we added new content types and management features.

Key objectives

  • Add value for the advertiser by publishing the directory on the web as well as print
  • Create up-sell opportunities by increasing the range of content formats
  • Shorten the content submission, sales and pre-press processes and save resource at C&E

Aside from the design and searchability of the on-line directory, we identified five features that would enable the project to deliver these objectives:

  1. The facility for users to upload content and pay on-line
  2. A facility for sales staff to manage the sales process via the front of the website rather than via the content management system
  3. The ability for sales staff to edit the final basket value
  4. A set of management reports to measure sales activity
  5. A content export to produce the print version of the directory

The e-commerce journey

The customer journey was always going to be a challenge for this project, the 90 categories, three listing types and four additional content options meant that we had to navigate customers through all 2,970 buying options in a simple way!

We also needed to include a bespoke Political Pages registration process so that advertisers could save draft listings and go back and add extra listings in more categories or upload video, audio or pdf documents .

As the on-line directory is published  in sync with the printed version with a fixed publication date each year, the registration process also allows  advertisers to renew their booking easily by re-publishing their listing from the previous year.

Having registered, advertisers area ready to create a listing.

They first select the categories that they want to advertise in - there are 90 to choose from!

Having refined the categories, we assume that all listings are premium listings, but we ask advertisers to confirm or update their choices. All of the categories that they have chosen are presented on this page.

The third step is then to up-sell extra content formats, giving advertisers the option to add a logo, up to 3 video files, up to 3 audio files and up to 3 documents.

Once advertisers have made their selection, they are taken to an area of the web site that lets them manage the content for each listing. The listings are saved in a draft format until they have been paid for, which means that each listing can still be upgraded.

It also means that advertisers can save their selections and come back later to work on their listing content.

Below is an example of the listings management area that is presented to logged in Political Pages advertisers.  When registering with the site, advertisers have the option to add their firm details and logo against their company profile. 

If they choose this option then each draft listing is pre-populated with these details so that advertisers do not have to replicate the same information in multiple listings. Each listing can be edited independently, so profile and contact details can be customised for each listing.

Management area

The Political Pages listings are pro-actively marketed by the Campaigns and Elections sales team. 

To sell the on-line version effectively, the team needed the ability to access customer listings and have the ability to carry out a few extra functions, such as the 'set as prepaid' option in the screenshot above.

To meet this requirement we created a 'private' area of the site with a login that was only available to staff. From the private area the sales team can log in as any of their customers and manage their listings on their behalf.

The 'edit listing' page illustrated below is the version that is seen by Campaigns and Elections staff. It is identical to the version that advertisers see, with the exception of the four extra options at the the end of the form.

The final feature that we added for the sales team was the ability to edit the final basket value before processing payment via the integrated payment gateway. This gave them the ability to offer bespoke discounts and package deals and still process payments securely via the site.

This functionality means that sales staff can manage content without having to touch the content management application or deal with an off-line billing system.

The directory article

Having outlined the functionality that we delivered to site users and content managers, we will now describe how we manage the content within the Wide Area content management application.

Once we had captured all of the project requirements and wire-framed and designed the web pages, we set about creating a custom article for the directory.

To do this we use the content management application to build a questionnaire, using text boxes, radio style questions, drop-down lists, mandatory flags and validation options to collect all of the assets that we need to form a directory listing.

We then check the option that turns a standard questionnaire article (similar to a survey monkey page) into a Wide Area custom article that can be populated via the content management interface or via the front of the website. In this instance, everything is populated via the website, either by logged in users or sales staff using the private area of the site..

An overview of the final custom article is outlined below, it consists of 50 fields and collects the following information:

Firm data

Firm data is collected in fields 1-13. Most of this content is populated by pulling in content from the Political Pages registration article. This means that users only have to add their details to the site once, even if they purchase multiple listings. However they do have to option to edit each entry if they want to customise the text that appears in each category.

Directory categories

The directory includes more than 90 categories which are stored as a set of radio-style options in the article

Content assets

Stored in this block is the path to each of the media assets associated with a listing. Users are given the option to upload a logo, up to three video files, up to three audio files and up to three documents.

There are two Logo options contained within this article; Logo Original is populated if the advertiser has added a logo while registering with the site, whereas Logo Actual is populated if advertisers add a logo whilst editing a particular listing. The Actual version will superceed  the Original.


The last set of options are used by Campaigns and Elections staff to enhance the front of the website with industry and editorial accreditations, and by the site itself to log activity such as a payment reference.

Our ability to collect all of this information in one place means that the implementation time and project delivery process is defined by the number of things that we need to add to the site, the process does not grow exponentially with each feature as the complexity of the site build process remains the same.

For more information on custom directories please call us on 020 7631 9280

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