Relaunching Penguin online

<p>When <a href="http://www.thebookseller.com/control/index.php?p=22&amp;u=16227">Philip</a> asked me to write a short blog post (and it will be short, I promise) about the redesign of the <a href="http://www.penguin.co.uk">www.penguin.co.uk </a>website, he mentioned a few things he was particularly interested in; the changes to the site, the reasons for those, the challenges faced and the role of the website in the business.</p>
<p><img width="200" height="176" align="right" src="/documents/UserContributed/penguinwebsitelarge.jpg" alt="" /><br />
<br />
Well, the first one was easy. The site has now got an entirely new faceted search and browse technology powering its navigation e.g. readers can search for a term and then filter their results by all sorts of criteria like price, age-range, sub-category, period, etc.&nbsp; It should make finding a book far easier and is really useful for browsing (I recently went searching for something for my animal-mad 2-year-old godson.&nbsp; I found <a href="http://www.penguin.co.uk/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780140568981,00.html?br... Chase</a> and <a href="http://www.penguin.co.uk/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780141380728,00.html?br... Babies</a>).</p>
<p>The site also has some new inspirational content, such as &lsquo;Penguin Favourites' in which we've catalogued the best-loved books of the great and the good - if you want to know what is the most &lsquo;handled' book on Ralph Fiennes' shelf, you need look no further.&nbsp;</p>
<p>There are other changes throughout like the <a href="http://thepenguinblog.typepad.com/">Penguin blog</a> feed on the homepage, the <a href="http://www.penguin.co.uk/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780718152918,00.html?br... book pages</a> with reviews and extracts clearly displayed not to mention the fact that we've moved with the browser times and now design for a 1024x768 size screen.<br />
<br />
As to why we've redesigned (and this is by no means the end &ndash; there's a list of more changes just waiting to take effect), the answer is simple. Our readers told us to.&nbsp; We conducted extensive quantative and qualitative usability research with a specialist consultancy involving a lot of sitting behind two-way mirrors and biting back squeals of frustration when real-life readers couldn't use our site &ndash; and we listened to all of the recommendations that they made.&nbsp; Months of workshops, designing, testing and re-designing later and we're happy that we've shifted our site from being a company on broadcast to being genuinely reader-centric.</p>
<p>That's not to say that there aren't still challenges to be faced, mainly with the taxonomy and categorisation of the lists.&nbsp; When you've got over 14000 books to catalogue and you need to have read every one of them to know which keywords to map against, you're going to have some human error along the way.&nbsp; If you discover a book in an inexplicable place, we're sorry, please bear with us and feel free to drop me a <a href="mailto:anna.rafferty@uk.penguingroup.com">mail</a> (I might even send you a thank-you present).<br />
<br />
And I quite like the use of the word human there because the bottom line is that the Penguin website is all about people; we've redesigned adhering to the core principles of <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User-centered_design">UCD</a>, we've done a lot of talking directly to our readers but even more importantly we've done a lot of listening to what they really want. We're clear that the site should help readers find books and have a relationship with the people behind the books, both the authors and publishers. The site is designed to facilitate genuine exploration, discovery and direct engagement and as a business we can then use it to launch debut authors, develop existing reader loyalty and crucially allow people to find the books and writers that they may never have otherwise discovered. Yes, the site reports literary news, flags new, recent and upcoming releases but what really turns us on is giving readers a bit more, perhaps an interview with an author, a video or <a href="http://thepenguinpodcast.blogs.com/">audio podcast</a> or even additional material from the book.&nbsp; And the thing about a website is that it changes all the time, just like our readers and their priorities.&nbsp;</p>