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When Web Magazines Go Wrong

Readability is the number one feature that the majority of digital magazine users have requested, and ironically, it’s rarely offered very well by some of today’s biggest magazines. Because of that, digital magazine apps have gotten a bad rap, but we’re not so sure it’s a bad thing.

Because instead, users have gravitated toward a digital magazine platform that is easier to update and maintain, cheaper to distribute, and offers higher profits for the publisher—web magazines.

A web magazine is found through a magazine subscription website, where the user logs in to view free or paid content in a linear fashion. There is an archive of past issues, and the user can access all of them and view them in an HTML format, which is easy to view and read on any desktop or mobile device. The design may be very similar to a digital magazine app, however the user does not need to download or access an app store, the web magazine is a part of the publisher’s website and can be accessed there.

The barebones minimum to qualify as a best-practice web magazine means it must follow these three guidelines:

  1. Must offer scrollable HTML articles (not a PDF, although the user may also download the PDF)
  2. Is issue-based (so you know if you’re in the November issue or the December issue)
  3. Has a table of contents, preferably staying with the reader on every page of the issue OR has some other way to make clear what issue they’re in and how to easily visit other articles from the same magazine.

Below are two great examples of web magazines:

TIME: For TIME, the table of contents is always available on the left-hand side of the page. The web magazine is issue-based, and a user can bounce from HTML article to HTML article without leaving the very obvious landscape of the current issue. The user always knows where he is.

I Like Crochet: There is a main page with a table of contents for each issue, and when you click into an HTML article, it keeps the TOC on the right-hand side. You can digest content by issue in a linear fashion, and you always know what issue you’re in.

Unfortunately, we see a lot of examples of web magazines where the publisher has lost sight of the magazine experience when they have tried to bring their premium content online.

If you’d like to learn more about what consumers want from digital magazines and how to meet their needs, download our 2018 Mequoda Magazine Consumer Study.

Thanks to the internet, consumers are telling us loud and clear what they want—are you listening? How much would you pay for that information?

Don’t open your wallet just yet, it’s a free gift from us to you, and you can download our guide to creating multi-platform magazines instantly.

2018 Mequoda Magazine Consumer Study is FREE to download and will show you how to achieve the same success as our most profitable publishing clients. Download it today.

And if you want to talk more about everything you’ve read, and how to apply it to your own business, schedule a call with a member of our executive team.

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