Rebuilding a magazine site for Community Living

For Community Living Magazine, I’ve been rebuilding an existing WordPress site and migrated over 8,000 articles to a new, cleaner template with a focus on accessibility, search optimisation and reader retention.

Community Living is a well established quarterly magazine in the field of learning disability, but was losing subscribers and falling behind others in the sector.

Montage of covers of older issues of Community Living magazine

Working with the small team, I followed a design analysis process of the priority elements of page layouts, and developed a prototype homepage which emphasised lead stories, as well as ways to keep in touch through social media and email.

We’ve built an integration with Mailchimp to invite readers to join a free list to get a round-up of site content, and semi-automated the editor’s newsletter using a custom feed of articles from the site.
We rebuilt the subscription system to create a simpler, more flexible paywall for premium site content, integrating with Stripe for payments and customising the login experience.

Figma boards showing wireframes
Reviewing layout options and iterations collaboratively in Figma

Accessibility was a priority so we ensured the site is clean and navigable by users of assistive technologies, which also helps it perform well in search.

Around the project we helped migrate legacy email mailboxes, and ensured sponsor organisations could access content easily without encountering the paywall.

Community Living magazine site homepage

Since the relaunch, the site has had strongly positive feedback from readers, and has gained four new sponsoring organisations, as well as increasing paid subscriptions by over 20%. The freemium email model is keeping a fast-growing wider audience in touch with content, so they can hopefully develop into paying subscribers or sponsors in future.

“Steph’s creative, compassionate and collaborative outlook has transformed our digital design, function, accessibility and potential. He’s a joy to work alongside, with a wealth of experience and a proactive, solutions-focused approach. Steph’s an integral part of our small but beautiful team, and the humanity and honesty he brings to the role align perfectly with the values of inclusion and equality which drive our work.

Saba Salman, Editor, Community Living Magazine