What do you think are the essential elements of the perfect digital magazine?
If you think back to Gutenberg and the printing press, magazines are still being produced the same way now as they were then. We have a long way to go. The technology necessary to fully utilize the Internet as a principal marketing and distribution platform is available today for magazine publishers, but it will take a decade or more for the industry to adopt it.
We believe magazines, no matter the medium, share a few important characteristics. As your publication is transformed from print to web and tablet, make certain it doesn’t lose even one of these essential principals, which define the user experience online and make digital magazines unique and ageless.
1. Don’t encourage your readers to wander.
Magazines are designed to be read from front to back. They have covers and a table of contents. Magazines are arranged in a series of articles.
Subscription-based web magazines—hosted on a subscription website and viewed on HTML-based web pages—can be linear as long as the conversion architecture maintains consistent navigation that includes an always present table of contents.
2. Use the technology to provide more frequent periodic content.
Monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly magazines are periodic, based on how often the user wants to consume content, and how often the content is needed and changing.
As publishers complete the switch from print to digital, we may see publishers paying more attention to the natural organic frequency of magazines (the frequency at which the subject matter or the market wants it, rather than the economic frequency that has been imposed by physical, print delivery).
3. Maintain the quality of curation for your digital product.
Part of the appeal of a magazine is that it’s been edited and curated. Its editors have culled out the most interesting and most relevant content for the reader.
The content does not comprise an isolated collection of articles or stories. Instead, the editorial content is connected and cohesive. Frequently there’s an introductory letter from the editor that creates context for the content that follows.
4. Digitize your back issues…yesterday.
People like to own magazines. As a child, I lived in a household that collected and displayed every issue of National Geographic and Reader’s Digest magazines. And as Steve Jobs noted, while there’s a small group of consumers that want to own television shows, most want to rent. Perhaps you’ve heard of Netflix?
But many magazine subscribers collect their back issues. For some specialty magazines, as many as 70-80 percent of subscribers keep their back issues for future reference. In fact, having a rich archive of back issues is a huge revenue stream for many of our clients.
Offering access to a library of back issues is a substantial benefit. Subscribers enjoy the benefit of a comprehensive archive of past issues—something a print subscription simply can’t offer.
5. Make sure your digital content is searchable.
Collecting print magazines had one frustrating limitation: The difficulty in finding older content in them necessitating cumbersome and expensive-to-produce back issue indexes. A magazine delivered on a digital platform must be searchable.
Whether he or she previously read an article in Sunset and is now actively planning a Hawaii vacation, or previously read an article in Consumer Reports and is now preparing to buy a kitchen appliance, the user wants to be able to revisit and find specific information.
6. Print magazines deliver four-color, saturated content. Publish on any digital platform that delivers the same.
In the future, magazines will not be limited by platform. Readers will expect to be able to access the content of your magazine on any platform that delivers four-color-saturated, editorial content. Currently, that means desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones.
Users will expect their subscription content to be available to them everywhere. Publishers should try not to risk disappointing them by making exclusive platform alliances.
Of course, the niche publishers we serve begin with a web magazine—organized by topic and issue—to fill in the gaps of universally-accessed content.
If you’d like to increase your subscription revenues over the next five years using a state-of-the-art CXMS built by publishers, for publishers, then schedule a call with a member of our marketing services team to learn more about our organization and how we can help you meet those goals.