A-lehdet sought to lay a technologically sustainable foundation for its digital media business. The business process led to the creation of a common platform for all of the company’s digital media. “Over the years, websites had been built for the various media using different technologies. Maintaining several individual services was expensive and inefficient, so we decided to build a single common platform for all of the services,” says Antti Karvanen, Development Manager from A-lehdet.
“Earlier, the online services also had varying roles and earnings models. Some of them promoted magazines, others provided their own services, and some made money through advertising. We wanted to get the entire package under control in terms of technology, communication and business,” Karvanen continues.
Digia has worked with A-lehdet for years, and it has been responsible for support and maintenance services for 16 websites, as well as minor and further development of these sites. Digia has provided A-lehdet’s team with flexible access to experts in various fields, enabling the growth of the digital business.
Services have been gradually migrated to the new Platta platform, one at a time. “It is naturally simpler now that we have one platform to develop rather than 16 solutions,” Antti Karvanen states. “This is easier in terms of information security and maintenance. Now, none of the services are left behind when updates are applied.”
The coherent entity keeps all of the services up to date: when a new feature is implemented for one service, it is also available on all the other services. The platform also enables rapid business ventures to be initiated and new concepts to be put online quickly.
While Platta was in the planning phase, the decision was taken to simplify the media offering by consolidating various brands under one roof. For example, Avotakka, Maku, Viherpiha, Meidän talo and other publications related to the home, garden and food previously existed as separate services but are now under the “At home with us” section.
So far, the online services for brands and customer service functions have been transferred to Platta. It also hosts forum and blog platforms such as demi.fi and lily.fi. The a-lehdet.fi website will also be transferred to the platform in the autumn.
“We are choosing technologies and designing user interfaces by focusing on the needs of end-users to ensure that all of the services can be accessed on the devices that users want to use,” says Karvanen. “Platta is a combination of various services and modules that we have built based on open source code. The frontend React app and the APIs behind GraphQL are running on Amazon services. The content management systems are Contentful and WordPress.”
Stories front and centre
A-lehdet is a Finnish family company that endeavours to offer the best content for dreams and the various needs in life. Every week, the group’s brands reach out to millions of people whose interests include the home, garden, wellbeing, hobbies and quality of life.
“We want A-lehdet to be an experimenting company and a frontrunner in the online world, including through the means of content, storytelling forms and business. For a media company, one of the most important objectives for an online service is flexibility for various experiments and tests with regard to business models and the customer experience. Platta has enabled us to reach this objective,” says Antti Karvanen. “We aim to positively surprise the user.”
Although modern technology is an important strategic choice for A-lehdet, the content – stories and experiences – is always front and centre. “The content may be in print, in text online, in videos or in podcasts. The story comes first, and then we think about how and when we want to offer it to the customer,” says Karvanen.
Digia’s team has the flexibility to respond to requirements
“Our collaboration with Digia has gone very well. We have always had strong experts available to us on a tight schedule whenever we have needed them,” says Antti Karvanen. “Digia’s team has varied in size from three to ten people, depending on our circumstances. Some of the team members have been working with us permanently for years, and they are such great professionals that we do not want to let them go.”
“Long partnerships are definitely a positive thing, as this work involves so much information about the business and targets. It is also difficult to find the best people. I think we have built up a mutual appreciation.”
What targets does A-lehdet have for the near future? “We want to gain a better understanding of our users and offer services that people choose to spend their time or money on. We are using our brands to create services that users will come back to time and again because they provide users with benefits, joy or both of these,” Karvanen summarises.
Digia worked with A-lehdet to implement an extensive technological platform based on open source code for the company’s digital media business needs. A-lehdet’s online digital media services have now been migrated to the new platform. Instead of working with numerous separate services, A-lehdet can now maintain and develop a coherent entity that is modern and flexible.