Product Development: Web Enhanced Naval History

In the summer of 2004, while working at the U.S. Naval Institute, I had to decide where best to direct my energies. Of all the products that we offered, Naval History magazine was steadily on the rise and seemed to engage a more cross-over audience than most of our divisions. And … the editor-in-chief was very agreeable to the idea of using technology to increase interest and reach. This was also around the time when new educational cable channels were starting to take off.

“Infotainment” was a thing. And it was time to get in on it.

So I proposed adding web-based enhancements to Naval History articles. These would be automatically available to subscription holders. But also each magazine would have a code that a user could enter and just have access to the enhancements that were in that issue.

Since all the enhancements were also designed to stand alone, this was also a prime opportunity to convert single-issue holders to subscribers. When an issue holder logs in, we’d show them previews or sections of all the things they’d have available if they subscribed. Boom. Up-sell.

The actual workload was definitely going to be more than I could do alone. So I also established credited internships with University of Maryland Baltimore County and Art Institute of Washington. This allowed me to add four other young interactive designers and a history major to help research and write. This also allowed me to realize that adding interns didn’t really reduce my workload. In any way. It actually increased my workload by ten hours a week. But it did let me produce more content.

The Editor-in-Chief announces the WENH features …

Web Enhanced features are announced.

Some examples of placements in the magazine and screenshots from the website.

First Ever WENH Magazines
Example of an enhanced article map and button CTA
WENH Intro Screen
The intro screen to the website.
Interactive map of Pearl Harbor
Caption
Interactive Battle of the Nile
Caption

The Editor-in-Chief once called me an engine!

I was called an engine!

The sad conclusion of this story was that at the first all-hands meeting of 2005, the new CEO offered the entire company severance packages to anyone who wanted to “vote with their feet.”

So I began the next chapter …

Editors note: the aggregator is long gone, but you can still view the archives of the magazine here.