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HBR's First Digital Career Advice Platform

Harvard Business School Publishing (HBSP), a non-profit subsidiary of Harvard University, has earned a great reputation for producing specifically designed content for global management professionals across the globe.

Given how the growing business landscape in India is fueled by cheap internet availability, a large number of professionals early in their career and young managers in India are willing to invest in upgrading their skills for "on the go" consumption.

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The Problem

For this audience, HBSP wanted to create a digital platform to facilitate the consumption of content "on the go" with following high-level objectives:

Provide the entire range of content, including videos, articles, assessments, infographics, and more, in a mobile-friendly format being mindful of internet bandwidth challenges in India.

Deliver the quality and finesse of other HBR branded properties, while allowing fine-grained curation and reporting controls for the editors.

Sustain the platform through monetization, complemented by a paid voluntary subscription offered to the users, thus ensuring access to premium content.

The Challenge

Deliver a Consistent and Quality Experience

The biggest challenge was to develop an engaging experience that remained consistent with the benchmarks of branding, quality, and finesse of HBR's global content platforms.

Deliver a Mobile-Friendly User Interface

The content needed to be optimized for most mobile devices, considering the bandwidth-challenged internet speed in India.

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The Solution

Employed Cutting-Edge Technology to Deliver a Great User Experience

We followed the Design Thinking process and worked very closely with the HBR team to understand user personas and to develop customer journey maps before starting with the UI design. We employed industry-standard open source WordPress CMS as the core solution, customizing it heavily through bespoke plug-ins, theming controls, and third-party plugins. For example, a bespoke Feed Importer was developed for the editors to review and ingest feeds, since the seed content had to come from the parent Harvard Business Review website.

Used a Mobile First Solution

We followed a Mobile First approach right from the beginning, and the user experience was developed, keeping mobile users as the priority. We used responsive design for an optimized mobile experience. Special care was taken with navigation to promote site exploration, thus designing a solution to prevent drop-offs from the home page.

Created a Customized Registration Process to Generate Additional Revenue

Registration was made mandatory after new users accessed four articles, thus promoting membership and ensuring monetization. Other features like quizzes, pop-ups, and communities were added to increase user engagement and retention.

Making it Future Ready

Working closely with HBR team, we are trying to personalize the customer experience by segmentation of users based on their behavior and the journey they traversed on the website. For this, we are taking the help of various customer analytics tools, and by combining the customers' data with these tools, we are helping HBR serve personalized content based on users' behavior.

Followed Agile Methods to Meet Tight Deadlines

To deliver within the timelines, we used Agile methodology to deliver features and functionality in short sprints of two weeks, rather than longer release cycles. Feedback on the scope delivered was sought the same day and was implemented instantly. The team working on the project also showed true team spirit and people were flexible to stretch their work hours to meet business goals.

The Solution

The Result

A Mobile First Digital Platform for Young Managers

HBR was able to launch a dedicated content platform with an engaging experience for young managers in India (see www.hbrascend.in) in only 6 weeks.

A Roadmap for the Future

Net Solutions is working closely with the HBR team to personalize the customer experience, increase engagement, and increase revenue generation through subscription by using combination of data analytics and design strategies.

A Growing User Database

Since their launch in December, the user base has increased from 0 to 50,000 users in a span of only six months.

The Result