By continuing to use this site you agree to our cookies policy:


Webstructure.NET for Macmillan’s

The decision to undertake a major overhaul of and move to the new Abacus Webstructure.NET content management platform has met with unqualified approval from the 750,000 registered users, the editorial team and the owners, Macmillan.

The brief

  • To improve the speed, efficiency and flexibility of managing the site’s content
  • To improve navigation and searchability
  • To incorporate Web 2 features and functionality
  • To update the design

Vast resources, small team provides essential, everyday teaching resources to English language teachers in more than two hundred countries worldwide. After taking the radical step in 2006 of moving to a subscription model for the site, the number of subscribers and registered users has continued to grow. The site contains a bank of over 8,000 downloadable teaching resources which is added to every single week of the year. This vibrant community and vital teaching resource is serviced by a very small team, consisting of two editorial staff, two marketing staff and one customer service administrator in-house. Making their task not only possible but also as slick and efficient as possible is the latest version of Abacus e-Media’s content management system, Webstructure.NET.

The makeover option

Four years after the last major change to the site in 2006, the time had come for a redesign. A more modern look and feel was needed, and it had become of paramount importance to dramatically improve the navigation and searchability of the site.

Lucy Williams, Commissioning Editor:

“Our users were telling us that it was becoming difficult to locate exactly what they wanted amongst the growing mountains of available content. We also wanted to incorporate some Web 2 features, allowing us to introduce a commenting and rating system for articles and a better forum, together with additional RSS and other feeds which our users could subscribe to.

“And as well as thinking about the needs of our users, we also needed to focus on our work as editors. We spend a lot of time uploading new content; anything that could make this process faster and more efficient would be invaluable.”

The .NET project

Webstructure.NET brings together Abacus’ experience in working both for the public sector and for major publishing groups. An intelligent editing experience combines with a flexible and dynamic website framework which allows page layout and the creation of new sections to be undertaken both quickly and easily. The unique ‘SPIN’ technology supports innovative drag and drop functionality.

With the decision to move to top navigation and mega drop-down menus, the number of top level categories had to be significantly reduced. This became the task of Lucy Williams, who successfully created just twelve categories, which are ‘pedagogically more sound and much easier to navigate, opening up the wealth of content available in each section.’ The mega drop-down radically increases the ease with which users can browse the structure of the site, and makes more than five hundred items available to users without having to navigate to another page.

Lucy Williams:

“The project went extremely well and we were very pleased with the performance of the Abacus team throughout. We did a lot of work with our users to prepare them for the changes and the reaction has been almost unanimously positive.”



Assessing the change

Lucy Williams:

“There are numerous relatively little things which make a real difference to the team’s everyday work.  For example, the pre-programmed categories feature in .NET allows new categories and the requisite metadata to be added much more quickly than was previously the case.”

Enterprise searching, using SOLR which offers faceted filtering, has proved enormously popular in a site containing so many resources. Users are able to filter materials progressively, seeing at a glance how many resources there are for each category.

A measure of the success of the redevelopment is that the subscription rate has increased since this process was made easier. Already, far more people are using the new search facility and they are searching and exploring the site for longer than they used to.

Exploiting the power of Web 2 has enabled the creation of a brand new forum which is more intuitive, making it easier for users to exchange opinions and tips. 

Unlimited potential

Lucy Williams:

“Webstructure.NET provides us with a wealth of new functionality and flexibility. I can already see there is lots of opportunity to change the way that we do things to really capitalise on the strengths that the system provides both to us and to our users. Now we can do exactly what we want.”


  • Faster, easier and more efficient content management for editorial team
  • New and improved search function
  • Vibrant new design with completely new navigation system
  • Easier subscription system leading to increased number of subscribers