WhichCar: Transforming print publications for a digital world
Bringing together design, engineering and product to deliver a strategic technology roadmap for WhichCar and its iconic publications.
At a glance
DiUS partnered with WhichCar to transform how its print publications could be consumed in a digital world. This centered around a rethink and rebuild of its entire online presence to improve user experiences for both auto enthusiasts and magazine editors. By leveraging our design, product and engineering capabilities, we were able to help WhichCar keep pace with competitors and explore new commercial opportunities.
WhichCar is Australia’s leading automotive site for car reviews, advice and entertainment. With an audience ranging from mainstream shoppers to performance enthusiasts, it publishes more than 600 stories a month written by experts with decades of experience.
Australia’s most well-known automotive publications such as Wheels, MOTOR, 4X4 and Street Machine sit underneath the WhichCar brand. They have a combined digital audience of almost one million readers.
Digital transformation for a traditional print giant
Despite a long-established history and strong readership of its magazine brands, WhichCar faced the same challenges as other print media publications – the consumer shift towards digital content, ever-declining physical distribution channels and the non-stop nature of online news cycles.
Seeing as print was WhichCar’s main revenue stream, it needed to completely reimagine its publishing and editorial workflow to emulate the magazine experience digitally. Not only would this widen WhichCar’s reach to include global audiences interested in car news and reviews, it also had the potential to boost advertising revenue and unlock new commercial opportunities, all while keeping pace with digital-native competitors.
DiUS partnered with WhichCar to bring this new direction to life by outlining a strategic technology roadmap, starting with a redesign and restructure of its website. For the brand’s iconic magazine titles, this would provide a foundation for revitalised experiences, new digital products and greater monetisation. By bringing together our capabilities in design, engineering and product, DiUS could also help shape WhichCar’s future direction and influence business decisions.
What we did
Leveraging cross-functional expertise to achieve directional shift
The overall solution was implemented over three distinct projects – the initial work to design the responsive website and a shift to a new CMS platform enabling WhicCar’s ability to deliver an editorial process across multiple (and differing) channels.
DiUS kicked off the engagement by reviewing WhichCar’s existing presence both online and in print – researching its audience, interviewing stakeholders and initiating discovery workshops. This allowed us to better understand WhichCar’s value proposition and identify what users wanted from the brand. From there, we could start crafting experiences that would meet these expectations as part of a blended, cross-functional DiUS/WhichCar team.
The first priority was designing a responsive website that would work seamlessly across all devices. With many of WhichCar’s users spending the same amount of time looking at automotive photographs as they did reading articles, our design team prioritised the use of imagery. Our team used Cloudinary, an end-to-end image and video management solution, to automatically format and compress image sizes without compromising resolution or quality. This meant faster load times, a better user experience and stronger SEO.
We adopted a similar approach to displaying advertisements so that they did not disrupt the user experience. This meant displaying ‘native’ ads that aligned with the editorial content, ensuring they were relevant to the page, and including them in our design system for WhichCar – a reusable library of components which would provide designers and developers with a shared language for greater consistency across all brands.
An additional facet to the engagement involved a shift from WhichCar’s existing CMS to a modern headless alternative, Sanity. This headless CMS provided the opportunity to author content in a structured format, agnostic to the publishing channel, realising the potential to write content once and publish to digital and print mediums. WhichCar staff now have the ability to create and edit copy on-the-go from their mobile devices, schedule content, as well as collaborate and see article history in real-time. By decentralising most of the data and implementing AWS CloudFront, we were also able to reduce server load and latency.
Following the release of the new website, which had enjoyed a lift in readership and internal efficiency gains, and in parallel to ongoing improvement of the WhichCar core digital platform, the DiUS team was asked to explore the future of WhichCar’s publishing channel and the potential to deliver the business a transactional channel.
We began with an initial workshop to determine WhichCar’s vision followed by discovery and ideation activities. This helped us identify key goals, potential audiences, different business models, pain points and competitors. Of the 70+ ideas generated, DiUS focussed on a product that would transform the car buying experience. By working closely with customers and stakeholders, WhichCar was able to validate a number of concepts that could be taken to market for further testing and validation.
In addition, DiUS took a closer look at how WhichCar could reimagine its print publications to sell more copies, overcome distribution challenges and replicate the success of digital platforms. We embarked upon a series of workshops with readers, journalists, editors and industry market leaders to identify ways in which modern audiences would want to consume magazines. A total of 80 concepts were identified and proposed, which can now be explored further by WhichCar.
“DiUS has been instrumental in our digital transformation at WhichCar. Throughout the project they were always very flexible, responsive, and made sure to understand our needs and requirements.
DiUS brought a variety of ideation and planning processes to the table, leading the Wheels Media team to challenge existing thought processes and seek optimal solutions that aligned with business priorities and best practices.
Ultimately, DiUS provided the expertise required to help us make the transition from a monolithic system to a modern, extensible tech stack we can take into the future.”
– Tim Kenington, General Manager – Technology, Wheels Media
Results for WhichCar
Quick wins and long-term success with tech-driven foundation
Even though WhichCar is the overarching brand on the new website, users can seamlessly switch between its individual publications to discover and consume automotive content most relevant to them. Feedback from readers described the new site as premium, calling out the easy navigation, quick page load speeds and high quality images as the biggest wins. In fact, the project helped reduce WhichCar.com.au’s average page load times by 49%.
With a rebuilt CMS, WhichCar journalists are able to quickly write and publish automotive content that doesn’t compromise on quality. Editorial workflows that were traditionally developed for print can now be brought up to speed in line with online news cycles. Our full-stack build will reduce double handling, avoid duplication, establish a single source of truth and allows for easy iteration.
By leveraging its long-established publications and resources with a tech-lead business transformation, WhichCar is perfectly positioned to strengthen its market position and accelerate adjacent opportunities, such as transactional revenue channels. With this partnership, DiUS is proud to have demonstrated the impact that technology can have on business strategy and decisions, regardless of the organisation or industry.