When TIME.com started planning their Person of the Year coverage in 2012, they knew the whole world would be watching the announcement. They chose to publish the site on WordPress.com VIP, and in the first few hours of the site going live, traffic instantly skyrocketed – 3,000 retweets, 7,000 Facebook shares and links from every major media outlet around the world.
TIME.com’s managing editor Cathy Sharick took the time to answer a few questions for us about why they chose WordPress, how they approached creating the website, and how they assembled the site in just two weeks.
How did your team approach creating the Person of the Year website?
Last October, we rolled out a fully responsive redesign of TIME.com, which offered both a cleaner, fresh aesthetic and a uniform browsing experience across all platforms – desktop, mobile, tablet. We wanted to make sure that the 2012 Person of the Year franchise gave readers that same rich, satisfying experience.
Why did your team choose WordPress.com VIP to create the Person of the Year website?
Almost all of our new Web content is now created on WordPress. We have developed a responsive theme that we can use to easily launch a new section of our website and quickly start creating content.
Because we already had this template in place from our redesign, it just made the most sense for us to give users the same experience for our Person of the Year content. There are challenges with any new project, but for the most part creating this new section on WordPress was fairly simple.
How long did it take to put the project together, from start to finish?
It took us about two weeks from when we made the decision to publish Person of the Year on WordPress to launching the new section of our website.
How is this year’s Person of the Year website different from previous years?
In previous years, the way our Person of the Year special was built, users had to click through a single slideshow that reloaded each page to navigate through the content. This time around we created an entirely freestanding Person of the Year section on our site where all of our content could live underneath, whether it was an article, photo gallery, video etc. By clearly labeling our content as “Person of the Year” in this section of the site we made it easier for users to navigate from one piece of content to the next, and from the new Person of the Year issue to previous years.
How did your team use social media to complement the Person of the Year website, and to drive traffic to the site?
Social media has become a part of everything we do on TIME.com and last year’s announcement was no different. The second we published the announcement on our site we sent out a Tweet and Facebook post from our brand pages and spent the day updating our Tumblr and Pinterest accounts with rich multimedia content so that our readers had a wealth of content to choose from on their social media accounts.
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This year we also partnered with a new startup called RebelMouse because we wanted a place on our site where we could easily display all of the social reactions we were getting to Barack Obama being selected as the 2012 Person of the Year. We published this page where we could feature the responses from readers, and we plan to do similar projects in the future with them.
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