Tablet Strategies for Publishers: Framework for Content and Form

Last week the first study (download here) about The Daily was released. The study, released by KnowDigital, included some interesting findings, most noticeably it identified two sets of users: Light readers and Heavy readers.

The primary conclusion was that in its current form, The Daily appeals primarily to the Light reader, whereas the product falls short of expectations for the Heavy reader. The Light reader, more so than the Heavy reader, appreciates a curated, layered experience and is impressed with all the bells and whistles.

Reading the study made me think, does this research apply at the local level? After all, on the one hand, The Daily competes in a space filled with commodity news readily available everywhere on the Internet. We, on the other hand, differentiate ourselves with community based news and information. It can be argued that because of our local focus, we will be able to appeal to both Light and Heavy readers.

With that caveat in mind, below I tried to create a framework for evaluating Content and Form strategies. In addition to using the Know Digital study as a guide, I also borrowed three of the four pillars described in a study created by Jake Batsell from Southern Methodist University.

In all, four variables for strategic evaluation are identified, two for content and two for form:

  1. Content Matrix: Immediacy and content style
  2. Form Matrix: Interactivity and multimedia

1. Content Matrix

Immediacy: How often is the news updated?
Content style: Is the content focused on “straight” news or focused on “entertaining” news?

User preference

Both light and heavy readers in the Know Digital study agree that more immediacy is better.
For The Daily, there’s a smaller usage spike in the morning, and a bigger spike in the evening (from Nieman Labs)
The light readers prefer “entertaining” news, while heavy readers prefer “straight” news

Where should your app fit in?

Strategic questions to consider:

Which user group (target market) do you want to appeal to the most?
What content do you need to produce to appeal to this target market and where does “local” fit in?
What level of immediacy will meet expectations of the target market?
When during the day should you focus on updating content?


For The Daily, they risk getting “stuck in the middle”, pleasing no one.
If you have “local” as our differentiator, can you please both groups?

2. Form Matrix

Interactivity: How much customization and sharing is supported in the app?
Multimedia: How many different layers are included in the app?

User preference:

Both “light” and “heavy” readers indicate they want high interactivity and high use of multimedia
“Heavy” users are less impressed with multimedia elements

Where should your app fit in?

Strategic questions:

How much interactivity and multimedia do you need to include to meet expectations of the target market and how can we exceed expectations?

As I described in a previous post, the goal for any product or service should be to exceed user expectations. Find the purple cow and create “wow” experiences. As time goes by, users’ expectations increase and what was “wow” yesterday, will be “so what” tomorrow.  As the Content and Form strategies evolve, it becomes critical to figure out the priorities for launch and beyond. The user feedback loop should be the starting point for an infinite innovation process.

(Image at the top courtesy of Memories Visual Depot)


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