Which Digital Magazine Platform Is Most Important?

At the beginning of your roadmap, this magazine platform should come first, even before an app.

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Online magazine platforms or offline magazine platforms or any platforms in between, it doesn’t matter: We’re fans of a good many of them, and believe in a “more-the-merrier” approach because the right deployment can open up new revenue streams.

But if you’re a single print magazine publisher looking to expand your brandwheel with multiple magazine platforms, it would be nice to have a roadmap that tells you what to prioritize. After your website is built, and your digital marketing is set up to sell the print magazine, you might be ready to take the next step. Let’s face it, you probably need to take the next step, since we’re getting pretty late in the game here.

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The six main magazine platforms that a traditional magazine company would develop include websites, emails, magazines, videos, books, and events. We use the chart below, typically to determine which platforms should be launched based on how many resources we have, and how much they will benefit the overall business model.

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These platforms are much bigger than they look, though. Within the website platform, a publisher may offer many different types of subscription websites. They may have a Portal and a magazine subscription website. Or, they may offer different types of events, like webinars and in-person conferences.

To answer your question before you ask, mobile is not part of this grid because we consider it a device type instead of a publishing platform archetype. Smartphones support all of the online and offline media archetypes, some better than others.

Digging into the magazine platform

01-5-reasons-your-magazine-app-could-be-costing-you-moneyBefore people started reading most of their content online, you might have jumped to books, videos, or events as your next platform. After all, most of the publishers we work with came to the web with one or two of those platforms already working as a profit-generating business unit.

But before you get into a totally different business model, which will come with events, books and videos, determine your digital magazine strategy first.

You have print, great. What next?

Most publishers go for the app next, the one that will sit in the Apple app store, the Google Play newsstand, and the Kindle newsstand.

We think apps are a fundamental component of digital magazine publishing, but we think you should start with building a digital magazine website that offers a native web-based magazine; One that can be read online and on a device, because it’s responsive and conforms to the device it’s on; One that still allows you to download the PDF if you need offline viewing.

The most famous native magazine you’ll probably seen is from TIME. The table of contents is neatly organized on the left-hand side of the page, and this is what you’ll see no matter what device you’re on.

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If you want to access a paid article, you’ll be interrupted with a call to subscribe to unlimited access for $2.99 per month.

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However, a native magazine is also one of the first things Mequoda builds for our clients, too.

Prime’s native magazine, I Like Crochet, is a linear, finite edition of a magazine, just like the app edition. Readers can turn the pages and progress through the magazine the same as they would an app or print magazine.

Unlike the app edition, however, it’s accessed on the Internet through a web browser, meaning it’s accessible on any device and any platform, without restrictions. And unlike print magazines, it also delivers access to a library of all past articles, instantly available with just a click.

And it’s built using responsive design, so it functions well on a desktop or laptop computer, a tablet, or on a mobile device. There is no app download required.

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At Mequoda we think of this as an “instructional” or “how-to” experience. But at I Like Crochet, a reader finds the issue date and a table of contents, and is invited to enjoy a linear “discovery” experience like any other magazine, in which there is a table of contents, and she can navigate page by page, instead of by topic, to find out what’s next.

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This sounds like the first magazine platform you should be creating, right? You can immediately begin pairing print subscriptions with native magazine subscriptions right on your website. Developing an app offers up at least 30% to the app stores and newsstands, whereas you keep all the revenue from your native web magazine.

Native magazine best practices

01-10-reasons-to-launch-a-responsive-newsletter-websiteNative magazines come with their own best practices, and continue to evolve. The most important thing readers tell us year after year is that readability is the most important thing for any version of a digital magazine. This is especially easy with a native magazine, where you can offer simple ways to increase font size, and all of the content is already scrollable because that’s how it’s built. Other best practices include:

Design:

  1. Readable design with reader-friendly type
  2. Easy to navigate with table of contents always available
  3. Readable from “cover to cover” by using hyperlinked table of contents

Content

  1. Images and video used to enhance experience
  2. Snippets of content for each article included in front of the paywall
  3. Native advertisements placed in front of the paywall
  4. Access to a library of all past articles instantly available with just a click
  5. PDFs available for offline viewing

Functionality

  1. Scrolling text and images
  2. Hyperlinks to other products
  3. Sharing tools available for all content

Would you like to build a native edition as your next magazine platform? Let’s chat.

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