Talking Issues eCommerce Store

eCommerce system and email marketing solution for online media subscription service.


Build a new online store and develop an automated media subscription delivery service based around iTunes for the Economist audio edition.

Provide upgrades to the current media file formatting options to create a more user friendly experience.

Create an efficient and user friendly content management workflow to ensure rapid delivery of weekly editions- the client gets the latest weekly issue of the magazine the day before it is available in the shops and they record the entire magazine as an audio edition that day, often pushing production late into the day so it was essential we designed an efficient set of processes for collating the media and publishing it to remote servers ready for delivery as soon as possible.

Provide advanced integration and publishing features to ensure content is automatically distributed across a content delivery network for seamless delivery to a high volume global audience.


This project was essentially all about media, specifically digital audio, and digital media being one of our core specialisms meant Mizu were the obvious choice to take Talking Issues forward. We analysed all the current production and publishing practices employed at the company and provided advice and a clear evolutionary strategy for upgrading all aspects of the companies products and services.


One of the first stages tackled was audio file formatting. We took the existing mp3 format and upgraded the formatting options to employ the higher quality MP4 AAC format and this also allowed us to deliver a richer experience for the end user employing features such as embedded chapter markers and artwork display.

We took the existing legacy store data, including product information etc and built a new online store from scratch using the latest best practice standards to ensure the site was up to date, making usability and accessibility core priorities.

The next objective the client had was to upgrade the manual subscription delivery method which, at the time, entailed the subscribers having to go to a dedicated web area, log in and then click on a link to download their latest edition to disk. This was hardly an ideal process and Mizu were tasked with analysing the requirements and designing an improved and more automated system. We looked at all the options and tools available and established a clear and effective strategy which could be integrated into the existing workflow and also delivered an improved experience for the end user. We developed a system using the iTunes media software as the delivery point for the automated subscriptions – essentially the user would click a link to add their own personal subscription feed into itunes and every week, as the new edition became available, it would be automatically downloaded by the users iTunes software – ready to be played or pushed onto their iPhone, iPad, iPod or other portable media playback device. What’s even more clever than that is the fact that behind the scenes this process is also talking to the Economist’s in house subscription system to authenticate the users subscription accounts before the media is allowed to be delivered.


The first aspects delivered were the new file formats and the admin areas of the new content management system. This ensured the client was comfortable with the upgraded media capabilities and had time to test and produce these new formats, all done with us holding their hand through the entire process providing advice and support regarding these new processes and production tools.

It was important to provide the new CMS at an early stage to allow the client time to familiarise themselves with a new system but given Mizu’s design and development skills coupled with our significant experience meant we delivered a system which they were almost immediately comfortable with and had no problems transitioning to a much more powerful solution.

The entire solution was provided on a very quick turnaround and that included the new automated subscription system, which required considerable testing and integration.