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The Future of Digital Magazines


Print or digital publications - or both? Future-proof publishers have answered this question for themselves already. Magazine- or article-based digital magazine? This is the crucial question at the moment.

THE STATUS QUO

Publishing houses still find it hard to believe that print alone is not everything (any more). Some of them have been experiencing big financial losses in terms of subscription payments and advertising income over the past years. I’m speaking of billions of Euros in the entire industry.

However, it would be wrong to say that print will not continue to exist. I believe that print magazines will still be successful as long as they are accompanied and thus supported by attractive digital offers that go along with their print counterparts at the same time.

Since Adobe shocked publishers and editorial designers worldwide a few years ago by more or less spontaneously introducing their license model for the Digital Publishing Suite and basically blackmailing their clients taking advantage of their leading market position, I switched towards the Belgian software solution Twixl for creating digital app magazines and app brochures for my clients.

STRUCTURE OF AN APP

Ever since internet blogs have become more and more successful, one question pops up in the media landscape: How shall an app magazine be structured?:

I Classic magazine format: several topics and articles in one compact medium or I article-based: many loose articles that stand for themselves, maybe wrapped up in categories (similar to a blog on a website)

Thinking of the classic magazine format; when you tap the app icon, you’ll get to a selection of different magazine issues that you can download (either by paying money as an in-app-purchase of free of charge). This is often the simplest way to offer an existing print magazine as a digital app magazine, because the editorial team doesn’t have much more work with it.

Opposed to that, there is the article-based approach which requires the editorial team to shift their thinking more towards a blog approach. Imagine the magazine app icon on your mobile device again. You tap it and a bunch of loose articles pops up in front of your eyes - preferably in a card design layout (read more about card designs in this blog post).

This bunch of loose articles is often summed up in categories, so called "collections" in the language of Twixl.

This article-based approach widely represents the usability of websites or web blogs. You try to make the app user feel they are consuming an internet blog. This makes sense as the reading flow of print magazine differs a lot from the reading flow of a digital medium.

ARTICLE-BASED PUBLISHING

As you can see in the example picture above, there are different types of content that can be fed into each box: articles created as HTML or in Indesign, a link to a website, a photo (static or gif-animated) as a promotional banner, a video or a chapter overview page. In addition to that, the grid is very flexible, works both in portrait and landscape format on tablets and smart phones and can be adapted very nicely to the look and feel of your company - in terms of fonts and colours alike.

This design freedom and flexibility combined with the big amount of content possibilities, makes article-based publishing very attractive and future-proof for publishers to monetize their magazines beyond any geographic borders.

APP VS. WEBSITE

You might ask yourself: Why have an app, when you can offer your content on a website too?

The big advantage is the customer retention. With a website, the reader has to become active and visit the website. Of course you can remind your readers to do so by e-mailing them newsletters. However, thinking of low open rates that are often way under 20 % and the GDPR in Europe that has been in effect since 25 May 2018, this is not the best form of customer retention any more, I have to say.

Having your app icon on your readers’ tablet and smart phone screens, makes them see the publisher’s/magazine’s logo every time they hold their mobile device in their hands. This is simply great.

But that’s not all. The very best advantage of an app is the possibility to send out push notifications to the mobile devices the app is installed on; some sort of SMS from the publisher/magazine to the reader saying something like "What’s behind XYZ? Read the full story now in our app". A simple swipe on the device, and the reader is in the story already. There is probably no better promotion for your content.

Besides that, the user does not loose himself in the World Wide Web like on a typical website - just take a look at your Google Analytics data to see how little time users stay on a website nowadays.

GET YOUR OWN APP

You want to save printing and postage costs and offer your magazine, sales brochure or annual report in app stores? Then I’m looking forward to your email.

#app #digitalpublishing

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