Online publishing: Tax Law

The zsis) appears in colourful branding. The publication platform shakes up the tax world with a solid business case and a sustainable future strategy!

zsis) - Centre for Swiss and International Tax Law
Strategic Marketing, Editing and Project Management
since 2019
Online publishing: Tax Law

About the Client: zsis)

In 2018, when the collaboration between zsis) and HeadStarterz started, the short version of the name concealed the "Journal of Swiss and International Tax Law". It was a digital journal that could be accessed exclusively via the research portal Swisslex.

Challenges and Goals

The journal increasingly lacked authors and content. As a result, naturally, the readership also declined. This resulted in a downward spiral that was difficult to stop. Where there is a lack of readers, it is difficult to attract authors. And conversely, without content, one build up a readership. For the publisher of the journal, the Institute for Swiss and International Tax Law, it was also not clear, due to the form of publication, what reach the contents of the journal achieved via Swisslex.

Together with the client, we defined the following goals for the project:

  • Gain a greater reach for the content
  • Implement modern publication formats and easy access for the readership
  • More effective acquisition of authors and content
  • Use of synergies with other offers of the publisher (esp. seminars)
  • Clarity about the effectiveness of the publications

In short, it needed a new concept and a solid business case for a sustainable future strategy of the magazine.

HeadStarterz was entrusted with the strategy development, the graphic design and the technical implementation of the project. Since the launch, HeadStarterz has also been supporting zsis) in terms of editorial content and project management.

The virtual publication platform zsis) is a project co-conceived and implemented by HeadStarterz.

The Publication Platform

In a first step, the journal was transformed into a "centre". Since the beginning of 2019, zsis) has consequently stood for "Centre for Swiss and International Tax Law". This enabled the conception of a publication platform that goes beyond the classic journal character. At, a comprehensive platform for the publication of tax law content in various text and image formats was created within three months in an extraordinarily ambitious project. zsis) has been online since 1 April 2019.

The editor has consciously decided to invest in her own publication platform and to operate it as a self-publisher. This has many advantages and makes it possible to achieve the project goals mentioned above.

The virtual publication platform zsis) is a project co-conceived and implemented by HeadStarterz.

The Structure of zsis)

The content on the zsis) is published in 5 different formats:

  • Articles
  • Documents
  • News
  • Tax Snacks
  • Talks/Lectures

The classic articles are thus ideally complemented and clearly separated for users. In the "Documentation" section, zsis) offers the high-quality materials from the editor's seminars. The detailed documents of the individual workshops from the seminars can be purchased by interested users. An offer that enjoys great popularity.

All content is also allocated to 1 or 2 tax law topics. The platform is divided into nine topics, which serve as a menu for users to navigate the platform. For example, experts in corporate tax law can quickly find the content relevant to them (see image above).

The virtual publication platform zsis) is a project co-conceived and implemented by HeadStarterz.

Visibility for Content and Authors

A central element in the strategy for zsis) was to increase its attractiveness for authors. However, the brand was not very well known and renowned authors preferred to publish with the competition. This problem was addressed in the strategy development as follows:

  • Open source: Many formats on zsis), including the articles, are freely accessible. Interested users can register for free and then receive free access to these formats. This guarantees a broad readership and thus a corresponding visibility for content and author. Universities and other research institutions welcome open source publications. The professors financed by the institutions make their contribution to research in this way without contributing to the economic benefit of private third-party institutions.
  • Author profiles and directory: All authors or speakers on zsis) receive their own profile (see picture below). This results in a comprehensive directory of experts in tax law (cf. image above). As an author, you are part of this community and gain further proof of your own expertise.
  • Presentation: In the design of the formats and the platform, attention was also paid to ensuring that the authors are at the centre. They are the creators of the content and deserve the credit. This also includes the communication of authorship on additional channels such as newsletters and social media (LinkedIn).
  • SEO success: The platform is optimised technically, structurally and in terms of content for access by search engines. This has two advantages for authors: (1) Their contributions are quickly found organically, i.e. through a Google search on the corresponding topic; and (2) the profiles of the authors in the directory are also very visible.
The virtual publication platform zsis) is a project co-conceived and implemented by HeadStarterz.
The virtual publication platform zsis) is a project co-conceived and implemented by HeadStarterz.

Credibility of Scientific Online Publications

zsis) is a purely online publication. As such, it has to contend with issues of trustworthiness – especially in the legal market. The prejudice that online publications provide inferior content is countered on zsis) as follows.

  • Publication guideline: The content on zsis) is formatted according to scientific rules in accordance with a publication guideline. This includes the provision of footnotes with a clean reference to the source (incl. direct linking as far as possible). The footnotes are interactive and allow users to jump directly back and forth between the text and the source citation.
  • Margin numbers and citation suggestion: An online journal has no page numbers. The text is published on a website. The articles on zsis) are therefore provided with margin numbers. The paragraphs are automatically numbered when they are entered into the platform so that the content can be cited without difficulty. The introductory citation suggestion is generated automatically (cf. image above).
  • PDF version: There is no printed version of the content of the zsis). However, a PDF version is produced for each of the articles on the platform. The PDF version is specially laid out. This improves readability, supports storage in knowledge management systems and enables readers to print out the articles themselves if required.
  • Quarterly issues: Articles are grouped into quarterly issues and as such are also available in a layouted PDF version. This allows issues and articles to be numbered neatly. It also enables to focus certain issues on specific topics.
The virtual publication platform zsis) is a project co-conceived and implemented by HeadStarterz.

Ongoing Project and Achievements

HeadStarterz provides editorial support for zsis). We work closely with the editorial director Prof. Dr. iur. Luzius Cavelti from the University of Basel. In addition to working on the content of the articles, we support the editors in the strategic development of the platform, manage the technical maintenance, communicate with the authors, layout the articles and manage the online shop. zsis) is a project that has grown very close to our hearts.

The success of the platform shows that the product is on the right track. Here are a few current figures (July 2021):

  • 1'187 Newsletter subscribers
  • 1'203 registered platform subscribers
  • up to 1'142 page views per day
  • 20 published scientific articles per year with a total of around 300 PDF pages (2020)
  • 31 published papers from workshops of the ISIS seminars (2020)
  • Over 5,200 page views for the most-read article on the platform
  • Increase in turnover +82% in the first half of 2021 (compared to 2020)
The virtual publication platform zsis) is a project co-conceived and implemented by HeadStarterz.

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