Pharmacare Industries - Natural Health Publishing Portal


2012/2013 – Change Digital was looking for someone to handle a massive project they had just landed. The project consisted of a contract to provide content and a portal to publish the content. As they had focused on the sale of the content, the web portal that was promised was unspecified and dangerously open to scope creep and cost overruns. They needed someone to hit the ground running and try to save the project from blowing out. My specific job was to work with all the stakeholders, across the agency UI department, the South African developers, the client IT Director, client Brand Managers, SEO and social specialists.

Due to in-house experience, Expression Engine was chosen as the CMS,


Account Service: I was the point of contact to work between the Agency and the Client.

Digital Lead: I was responsible for the specification and project management of the build, using in house UI and a South African development team.


Based upon the objective of providing a health information portal to expose users to house advertising for products related to the editorial, sego optimised and available on web, tablet and mobile, I proceeded to start the UX specification.

Initially, we ran a brand workshop to position the web site properly. I initiated this because the client, Pharmacare, was a brand, but the website was going to carry Nature’s Way and Bioglan ‘sponsorship’ and numerous ads from the pharmacare range of brands. We needed to have consensus on how the website was to present itself to the public, its values, associations, friends, image, and most importantly, its relationship to the other brands it represented. This was a classic case of the consensus being the most important element of the deliverable.

The brief also required the inclusion of a user’s forum and I suggested a separate news centre, to focus the eDM management.

Tagging Logic Solution

Next came analysis and IA to create tagging logic across product and editorial categories, allowing for cross category and multiple category relationships.

This also had to have forward planning to integrate with future eCommerce, thus including product relationship opportunities.

The most difficult logical challenge was that content kept flowing constantly into the site via xml, including tags, and it had to all work by default, but still with the ability to override and adjust or augment.

Also, the tags had to feed multiple navigation paradigms, topic, physical and x-reference.

Here’s the solution I came up with:

All copy came tagged with tags from a publisher’s master list which could be updated, but was supposed to be kept manageable. It was mirrored back to the publishing site CMS via xml for them to use.

  • One tag for topic
  • One tag for physical (hand, head, stomach, etc)
  • multiple tags for x-reference, as deemed by the editor overseas.
Local Advertising

Advertising x-reference was more difficult, as there was not always an obvious logical relationship, and that content was added on-site by the local editor.

Thus, each ad received its own tag, and that tag needed to be added to each editorial record, or a default ad for the category would be displayed. Again, category ads were based on the same unique tag every ad carried.

This enabled standard user oriented browsing with proper advertising relationships across health content, news content and forum content.

As a future-proofing option, ad-server scripts could also be applied to the pages and categories using the same interface, if required.

Other Goodies

I also specified multiple navigation paradigms for user relevance – a topical and a physical options taking the cue from the sister site, health24.

The project included significant focus on social and on-site user generated content engagement strategies, including subscription based topic and program styled eDMs, i.e. the ’10 week’ programs with related discussion groups.

It also featured

  • rotating home page content, to cycle articles.

  • on and off site SEO, to exacting standards

  • responsive design and mobile CSS.

The backend included

  • beefed up asset management to accommodate advertising and editorial images and custom tagging requirements.

  • x-reference tag management interface,
    – integrated with the content DB providing the content feed from South Africa so we never had tags without content.

  • Integrated Forum and News Centre as well as Health Editorial management.

Project Management:

Following the specification, I project managed the job to completion, coordinating a development team in South Africa and a UI team in Sydney. This was supported by myself at weekly meetings to maintain and elevate the client relationship.