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The Question: What Makes A Good Digital Magazine? Rhapsody's Answer...

InPublishing sets the question – suppliers provide the answer. John Rahim, Head of Digital, Rhapsody Media, writes:

By John Rahim

Ask different publishers about what makes a good digital magazine and you will get very different points of view. Ask most consumers the same question and surprisingly you will get very similar answers. Ultimately, consumers want to read digital publications which provide something different to their printed counterparts and which have been tailored to the device and medium that they are using. They are looking for content, which is not freely available elsewhere, and designed in a format that engages them.

As with all things web-related, a good user experience is at the heart of any successful digital magazine. When devising your digital publishing strategy, it’s important to learn from your experiences of producing your publication’s website. Issues such as how to present long-form print content on small devices, how best to use images, which may have been commissioned for print, and the frequency of the content updates, are considerations which need to be addressed early on in your planning phase.

Although PDF replicas are still sold as ‘digital magazines’, their numbers are dwindling year-on-year as consumers are expecting, and indeed willing to pay for more engaging experiences. Thankfully, content-managed, responsive digital magazines are becoming increasingly popular.

Ultimately, what makes any great digital magazine is content, and making full use of what the technology can offer. In some cases, publishers are using new technologies and providing their readers with exclusive content including videos and other interactive elements, which provide a different experience to the traditional print editions.

Continuous publishing has become a hot topic in 2015. With a number of software suppliers launching continuous publishing modules, publications can now break from the traditional print cycle and push content through to apps on a regular basis, without the need for the user to refresh the content.

For too long, however, the publishing workflow processes of producing tablet and mobile editions have been disjointed and labour-intensive. This has hampered investment and resulted in publications producing digital editions, which ultimately have been disappointing and have failed to engage consumers.

A lot rests on the digital publishing platform used. Ideally, it should be CMS based and allow publishers to automate the print and digital production workflow and create responsive native apps tailored to each publication and the device being used. The publishing system should be robust and future-proof, another vital consideration when technologies and platforms are changing so quickly.

While no platform or software solution will be perfect for every publisher, we believe that the continued success of digital editions is partly dependent on systems which allow publishers to create content in a flexible, cost-effective and creative manner. The ideal solution is one that allows publishers to surprise and delight their readers across all formats.

About Rhapsody: Rhapsody is an award-winning, cross-media production and software publishing company, working with many of the UK’s leading publishers including Time Inc. (UK), Bauer Media, Cedar Communications and Waitrose amongst others. ePublish, developed by Rhapsody, is the first responsive-based digital publishing platform, which automates the production of tablet and mobile editions directly from print InDesign files.

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The Question: What Makes A Good Digital Magazine? was also answered by:

Mark McCormick of Mirabel Technologies

John Cunningham of WoodWing

Nicholas Kleanthous of YUDU