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BMJ

Publishing

Our client

BMJ is a global healthcare knowledge provider of journals, clinical decision support, events and medical education. It is internationally renowned for its publication of The BMJ (British Medical Journal), which is currently one of the top five general medical journals in the world. You might not know this, but BMJ also publishes more than 70 journals, some of which are the most cited and influential titles in their specialty. Their products and services help clinicians to improve their everyday practice, and also informs patients and the general public.

The challenge

As is the case for most publishers, a redesign is a routine operation, repeated every 3-4 years, mostly to update important assets and pages. Given BMJ has pioneered the migration to digital publishing and open access, a more substantial redesign was in order.

The last redesign bmj .com underwent mostly involved moving from one Drupal version to another. But 2020 has been the year of change for many of us, thus challenging BMJ to adopt a completely new way of working that put the entire architecture of its publishing system into question. This brought about a completely new approach to front end development.

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The solution

BMJ’s flagship journal, bmj. com, is on a Drupal 7 platform. That sits on top of the JCore (Journal Core) platform which hosts the scholarly journals provided by HighWire Press.

Our main task was to transition to a fully decoupled experience, which involves a complete separation of concerns between the content's structure and its presentation.

The chosen technology stack was Node.js, Next.js, AWS (Lambda functions) and Vercel for deployment. Its main benefits include its ability to easily create plain HTML & CSS without the need for any particular framework to serve up content. Also, the tooling on the build and development sides are familiar for the team engineers.

Results

The main early success indicator was the page performance and the Google Lighthouse audit. Pages that previously scored below 10/100 in the audit were showing results of between 85/100 and 90+/100 on most updated pages. Compared to the industry standard, it’s a great result and  it validated that this approach was radically improving user experiences.

One of the more popular pages on the website showed a significant jump in search rankings for related key terms related, with nearly a 100% increase in clicks from Google search through to the page. Another immediate effect was a drop in exit rates, from 47% to 39%, which was far lower than the site average (closer to 60%). There was also an increase in usage itself, in page views and number of visitors.

In the longterm, this new approach is expected to significantly improve advertising revenue and one-off subscription revenue.

Next Project

Hindawi

"The work with Thinslices has been a true collaboration. We created a fully integrated combined team, working closely with the entire organisation. The lessons learnt from taking on this project are radiating out to other teams within BMJ. The team are happy, productive and having a real impact for our customers."

Ian Mulvany, Chief Technology Officer at BMJ