At a critical juncture in our reader focus group research last year, one builder had the audacity to admit that he enjoyed reading in-depth magazine articles. That was enough to make other builders nod their head in agreement and offer examples of great articles that they had read recently. Then an architect in the group interrupted the reverie. The future of magazines, he insisted, is in shorter, service-oriented stories with links to a great repository of online information. Everyone had to agree.
We’re not foolish enough to think that the future of magazine publishing is in 3,000-word think pieces, just because it’s hard to read them on the Web. In Builder, we’ve always worked hard to divide extended features into bite-sized morsels. With e-mail and social media monopolizing our time, and the pace of business getting faster, magazines need to be easier to read, content easier to access.
With the redesign of Builder this month, we’re taking the integration of print and digital information to a whole new level. Working with Luke Hayman and Shigeto Akiyama at Pentagram, whose work includes Time, Atlantic Monthly, and Consumer Reports, we’ve developed a challenging new editorial formula that makes the most of the print and digital worlds. We’ve incorporated new apps and 2D tags in the magazine. We’ve juiced up our digital editions. And we’ve made our website even more searchable and informative.
If magazines stand at a critical crossroads, the challenges facing home builders are even greater. Companies strong enough to survive to this point face unprecedented competition from resales and foreclosures that outsell new homes almost two to one. And they must swim upstream against the negative economic forces of falling home prices, job insecurity, and home equity declines.
The need for innovation in home building has never been greater. Builders absolutely must provide a compelling reason to buy their home, and not another. Our mission is to help you identify best practices in design, construction, business, and products that will help you stand out in the market.
We’re doing that by taking full advantage of the new media at our disposal. We now create content each month for our digital version of the magazine, which you can find at the Apple store. It provides direct links to additional stories, webinars, and slideshows on our website, www.builderonline.com.
In our focus groups, builders told us that tablet computers definitely have a future in home building. They envisioned using them to demonstrate design ideas to prospective clients and to illustrate construction methods to subcontractors. This month we’re launching a series of four apps—for design ideas, products, house plans, and news—available on an iPad.
Since nearly all our readers now carry smartphones, we’ve also introduced 2D tags in some departments of the magazine. First you need to download software to your phone. Then you can take a picture of the tag, and it will take you to special online video content. The tag on this page leads to a video presentation on our redesign. Elsewhere you’ll find tags that will take you to video presentations by the experts we brought together this summer to discuss the long-term outlook for housing.
The print issue of Builder remains the all-important anchor of our franchise. As you flip through this one, you’ll see that we’ve improved our editorial coverage, introducing many new timely departments. We’ve also taken its organization and appearance to a new level, bringing back an editorial feature well.
About a year ago, we decided to rethink our brand strategy. We’ve made strategic investments at a difficult time for both the home building and publishing industries. This is no time for complacency. The need for actionable business information has never been greater. We need the best intelligence to move confidently into the future, whatever that may bring.
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