Must-Have Reader Features
From search widgets to embedded videos, readers want more from digital editions.
As digital magazine technology continues to evolve, so does reader expectation. Features that might not have been considered essential to subscribers a year or two ago are considered a ‚Äúmust-have‚ÄĚ now, and publishers should be prepared to comply. Overall, ‚Äúmust-have‚ÄĚ features in digital editions can range from the very simple, such as smooth navigation, to the more complex, such as embedded videos and podcasts. Does your digital magazine‚Äôs user interface have some of these desired features?
Although navigation is considered a very basic feature, most publishers and vendors agree that it‚Äôs one of the most important. ‚ÄúGood navigation sounds really basic, but it‚Äôs really hard to achieve especially with the devices that we have today,‚ÄĚ said Wendy Zingher, SVP, software engineering, Texterity.
When it comes to digital magazines, readers want large pages, but at the same time, they don‚Äôt want to wait for them to load. So until digital magazine vendors can find the technology will improve navigation, publishers will have to ensure that their digital editions offer these other features to compensate.
There are a few choices for digital magazine publishers when it comes to offering search functions, but most will agree that some form of search is essential.
Greg Fine, executive editor, Forum Magazine, chose his vendor because he wanted his title to be fully Google-integrated. ‚ÄúWe chose to be open so that people that aren‚Äôt subscribed to our magazine are able to find us,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúIt was a part of our strategy.‚ÄĚ
For publishers that opt for subscription-based digital editions, most user interfaces offer a search bar or widget that allows readers to conduct a word search within an issue or across all issues.
One of the advantages that digital editions have over print is the publisher‚Äôs ability to provide readers with an easily accessible archive. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs really nice to be able to go back and find articles you read over a year ago,‚ÄĚ Zingher said.
Social Networking Options
The ability for readers to share, email and bookmark content from a digital edition via Facebook, Twitter, Digg and Delicious is a feature that readers have also come to expect, according to Fine. ‚ÄúFor us, it wasn‚Äôt the primary reason for choosing our vendor, but it‚Äôs something that we like and can appreciate,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúThe ability to share and spread content is very important to our readers.‚ÄĚ
Videos, Podcasts, Rich Media Ads and Hot Links
Providing live links in articles and ads in digital editions is nothing new, but a few publishers are looking to take the concept of ‚Äúdigital‚ÄĚ to the next level.
When Edgell Communications decided to replace four of Consumer Goods Technology‚Äôs print issues with digital editions, the company wanted to leverage the medium the best way they could. ‚ÄúI really challenged my creative team to create a digital edition that wasn‚Äôt flat and would offer readers a presentation that was more digital in its nature,‚ÄĚ said Robert Keenan, Edgell‚Äôs VP, media integration.
One of the ways that the team achieved that goal was to turn CGI‚Äôs Editor‚Äôs Note from a text article to a video. The team has also experimented with adding video clips to the middle of stories and as a way of giving readers a re-cap of some of the company‚Äôs events. ‚ÄúWe say to ourselves, ‚ÄėLet‚Äôs look at what we‚Äôre covering, digitize it and make it better,‚Äô‚ÄĚ Keenan said. ‚ÄúAnd whether it‚Äôs with video, podcasts, Webinars or Flash, it‚Äôs all centered around bringing life to the content.‚ÄĚ