Broadly speaking, the same sorts of things that make a good print magazine are what make a good digital magazine. What I mean by this is brevity from the writing staff and editors alongside novel ideas and themes from the senior staff to keep engaging new audiences.
When specifically referring to digital magazines, however, there are a host of unique challenges we’ve seen over the years.
One recurring issue is a tendency to over-saturate digital magazines with rich-media content like video, interactive assets, audio content and more.
The purpose of this content is, quite understandably, to add perceived value to a digital edition by, theoretically at least, providing the reader with a greater degree of utility. Striking the right balance between traditional written content and rich media is especially pertinent in the case of digital replicas, where rich media is usually employed as complementary content to existing written pieces.
Magazine readers will only go the extra mile to engage with rich media content if it is both relevant and builds upon said written content. Here’s an obvious illustration of this ideal balance: Consider an interactive map of Machu Picchu alongside a piece on sustainable tourism in Peru. This undeniably adds value to the existing piece by providing extra information in an aesthetic way.
If you’re planning to have a magazine app, how intuitive, visually pleasing and functional the design is become paramount. This ranges from ensuring baseline best practice approaches, such as clearly signposting relevant categories and ensuring your social media feeds have a presence on the welcome page, to more elaborate examples.
One good example of the necessity of good functionality and intuitive design comes about when a magazine publisher decides to digitise their back issues. It’s worth mentioning that digital archives are an intensely useful way of migrating over existing print subscribers, for obvious reasons. However, in order to do this effectively, savvy publishers always provide excellent functionality such as being able to search for older editions; otherwise it’s something of a wasted venture.
Finally there’s pricing. While there’s still a great deal of debate about what constitutes the best model to monetize digital magazines, our experience is that the most basic pricing models are overwhelming the most successful. This is becoming a truism for subscription-based digital models in general (two of the most famous examples are Spotify and Netflix), so bear in mind that successful digital magazines usually employ, at the very most, two different subscription models.
There are of course exceptions to this, but the general trend is to keep costing simple for the consumer and not to build an elaborate hierarchy of subscription tiers unless you have a digital magazine elaborate enough in itself to justify elaborate pricing models.
About YUDU: YUDU are an app developer with over ten years’ experience in magazine publishing. YUDU's dynamic app environment allows publishers to push social media updates using a Social Wall, or to pull in feeds from blogging sites; it is so much more than an app! Clients include: Time Out, Institute of Directors, Williams F1 and Wiley.
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