A note came the other day from a BUILDER audience member that was humbling.
"I've been reading your magazine since it was first published and have been out of the loop due to physical disability, due to working in the trades as a carpenter. I'm afraid the term does not exist anymore. You have repeatedly produced articles that are for non professionals over the last 10 years..."
It goes on, concluding with a plea that we publish "interesting" articles, or else. It's humbling, because when you're trying so hard to be something, being told what you're not--especially by somebody you care about--stings. It stings to disappoint, to recognize a need that's real, but you can't fill.
As businesses, we go out there each day, and we try to be very good at something people need. We eat, sleep, and breathe a mission to fill that need, and, by and large, it's our audience, our customer, our partners, who provide key, specific guidance on exactly what that mission needs to be, They tell us what they need, and how that need inevitably changes over time, either slowly or fast.
Like many businesses today, home building is a complex $300 billion ecosystem, and thankfully, here at Hanley Wood, the BUILDER team keeps close company with people and processes who are each a lynchpin in a master plan whose aim is "building a better world."
So, at least part of the response to my aggrieved audience member came at 5 a.m. yesterday, when BUILDER sister, The Journal of Light Construction went live with its newly redesigned jlconline.com. A team of about 45 development, design, content, engineering, operations, product marketing and audience development colleagues had been burning both ends of the candle for the past four months or so to reach yesterday's goal line.
We congratulate them, and tip our hats to the leadership of editorial director Clayton DeKorne, VP for product development Rizwan Ali, chief design director Aubrey Altmann, and the product management team.
Here's just a bit about what they, and their teammates accomplished:
Visitors to the newly redesigned site will find a number of significant upgrades. The content is organized and indexed across all major functional industry segments – from framing, exteriors, roofing, insulation, electrical, plumbing, foundations, HVAC to interiors. Regular updates, to include up-to-date new content, will be added as industry best practices.
Specific features include:
- Trending topics on new projects, technologies, trends and business.
- Improved site search and keyword navigation to enable faster and easier way to access content
- More detailed drawings, video and photos conducive to the digital environment
- Responsive design so pros can view content “on the go” and viewable on all mobile devices
The redesigned site also creates new opportunities for marketers in the building product industry to include:
- Mobile optimized ad units Video gallery integration for greater exposure opportunities
- High impact ad opportunities include IAB rising star ad units;
- and Re-engineered advertiser interface with keyword-driven navigation allowing for better ad targeting opportunities.
And, while this is an amazing achievement that tiers access to enable users of the site to enjoy the free content or register/subscribe for premium content, there's more to come. As a "second phase" later this year, we'll launch JLC’s Construction Central, Tools for Training and Building Knowledge. JLC’s future training and education platform will be fueled by the JLC Digital Field Guide. The training platform will feature online educational courses and interactive live clinics, training programs and access to the latest techniques, installations and alternative methods of production across the entire construction industry. Having access to real-time and up-to-date how-to’s on products and technologies will make it easier for building professionals at all levels to attain key certifications, pass state licensing requirements and graduate a much-needed skilled workforce.
So, getting back to our very caring audience member who was kind enough to send out his demand and plea, I can only say, "thank you," to him. And, I can confidently refer him to our JLC team, whose biggest areas of engagement on the newly redesigned site yesterday were forums and on the "best baluster spacing formula," and "are bird-mouth cuts really needed anymore?" and an analysis on "prepping shower walls for tile."
Clearly, if I were a carpenter, this site is for me. This is the beauty of our portfolio of excellence centers at Hanley Wood. We have JLC, the ever-expanding storehouse of best practice and science in construction; we have Architect, our blazing torch on where design has been, where it is, and where it's going; and we have Metrostudy, the "building science," if you will, of residential real estate supply and demand. In a sense, every lot, every property, every vertical construction new or existing is a lab, and now Hanley Wood is in a position to capture more and more data and meaning from the vast number of laboratories of projects, from a new work shed, to a pool, to a renovated kitchen, to a new 5,000-acre master planned development of new homes. Added up, it's like GPS for residential construction, design, and development. Pretty cool.
That leaves us, BUILDER. Who are we? What do we want to be? BUILDER should be where you need to come for that blend of ideas and challenge on how to build better, for whom, and how to make a good living from it.
At BUILDER, our vision and our work each moment of each day stem from a core value set that places a trusted, connected, searching, and robust third-party knowledge base into play among the people in the builder ecosystem whose livelihoods depend on better knowing who may buy a new home, why, where, and for how much.
The work is self-fulfilling; when we succeed with our obsessions, it excites us to no end, and fuels ever more determination to redouble our efforts. Simply, if BUILDER does its job, you will recognize with greater clarity who you are and what you can do best. You gain in an effort to operate at a competitive advantage, whether you’re large enterprises or small firms, whether you’re vertically integrated real estate, development, construction, and marketing companies, or specialists in one or more of those areas of expertise, and whether economic and market conditions are favorable, or not.
As you ideate, locate, finance, develop, specify, build, market, and sell new homes and neighborhoods, you should feel--palpably, on-demand, and on-the-go--our conviction that service, leadership, and engagement among them is the very center of what we do, the reason we exist. You …
- should feel ennobled to be part of an artisanal “maker” community that fulfills one of this society’s essential needs for shelter, safety, health, and an opportunity to live well ...
- should want to share this content with colleagues, peers, partners in the effort to deal with and improve management of uncertainty ...
- should access home building’s most-trusted well of knowledge, and gain privileged entrée into how, where, and who to tap for higher-level solutions and decision-support
- should be challenged constantly on every assumption regarding the people, the products, the process, and the practices that go into each home’s design and construction …
- should lust for and delight about the potential spark in each moment, to be part of a systematic creative and operational process that focuses on giving people a new place they’ll thrill to buy and love to live in because it’s high-performing, resilient, relatively cost-efficient, and vibrant …
- should expect graphic proof that ideas comprise a virtuous-cycle of customer delight, profitability, and new, better ideas …
We hope that's your expectation of us at this point, and I hope you'll remind me constantly of how your needs evolve beneath and above those broad-stroke guidelines. We believe we can live up to that promise, and exceed it. We also believe we're part of a team and a business that's taking shape as a kind of GPS-system for housing, built upon data and capable of getting you where you need to go.
Meanwhile, if I were a carpenter, I'd go spend some time on the new jlconline.com site, and perhaps sign up for Digital Field Guide access. If you improve your own ability to make a better living at this business, we'll all be doing our job, and, together, we'll be "building a better world."