A how-to guide for digital publishing in a multi-screen world

Living in a multi-screen world-1

Recently, I was invited to speak at a conference for business journal publishers faced with a challenge all too familiar for print publications: How do we adapt and stay relevant in an ever-increasing digital world?

As part of the presentation, I laid out a framework to help shape publishers’ digital content strategy in a multi-screen world. I will go through the framework (Content TEPP) further down in this post.

Check out my full presentation here:

The digital revolution is inevitable. There is no turning back. The rise of smartphones, tablets, connected devices and the pervasiveness of social media means print will continue to decline. That doesn’t mean print will die (in fact, print is somewhat experiencing a come-back), but its importance and purpose will certainly change. Print will not be the end-all but one of many “screens.”

Depending on whom you address the digital revolution is either already here, or it’s fast approaching. And that’s the main challenge; we have two audiences to serve:

  1. The Digital Immigrants: The current audience of baby boomers currently enjoying a printed product but slowly getting used to the digital world
  2. The Digital Natives. (Hopefully) the future audience of young Gen X and Millenials who have never picked up a newspaper and instead grew up connected to the world via the Internet.

These two audiences consume media differently and they have different motivations and interests. Porting over your print content and “experience” to digital might work as an interim “migration strategy”, but it won’t cut it as a long term strategy attracting a new audience.

(For more details on this topic, check out Earl Wilkinson’s blog, where he, based on my presentation, muses over the differences between Natives and Immigrants)

Content TEPP: A digital content framework for a multi-screen world

With the Natives and Immigrants in mind and the realization that media consumption behaviors have changed, here’s a digital content framework for a multi-screen world:

digital publishing content framework

Type

Deciding on what type of content to produce is the most important part of your strategy. Of course. Forget mobile, forget digital and print. Your job is to deliver valuable content to your target audience, regardless of channel. Are the interests of Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives the same? Can your current content attract a new audience with vastly different interests? And how do you attract a new audience with new content without alienating your current audience?

Environment

Considering all the different screens, we need to understand the situation and context of our users. Then deliver and optimize content accordingly. It’s very different to sit down with a printed product and leaning back with a cup of coffee in the morning as compared to sitting on a bus with your smartphone and five minutes to spare.

multi-screen consumption by day part

Pace

Digital Natives want the right content at the right time. At their pace and on their schedule. Think about how many times you check your digital devices every day. Digital metabolism is much higher than print. The expectation is you’ll be updated, informed and entertained every time, whether you have five minutes or an hour to spare.

Packaging

Considering the Type, Enviroment and Pace, how do we package it all up for different screens while taking advantage of new digital tools not available in the analog world? Does the way we deliver content live up to the very high expectations of Digital Natives?

For a deeper dive, check out the case studies on Forbes, Yahoo News Digest and more in my presentation and learn how the Content TEPP framework applies in real-life.

New iBook – iPad Design Lab: Storytelling in the Age of the Tablet

In the field of newspaper design, Dr. Mario Garcia is a bit of a legend. Having worked on more than 500 projects including working with some of the biggest news organizations in the World, such as Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and Die Zeit, his experience and expertise is unparalleled.

As I started working on the OC Register iPad strategy, I became an avid reader of Mario’s blog. You see, Mario “got it” early on. He knew that the iPad would open new doors of opportunity and the time was ripe to start experimenting with this new and exciting canvas.

So, it’s very fitting what started as individual blog posts about iPad design now has become a full-fledged, multi-touch iBook (buy it in iTunes) dedicated to the exploration of tablet design for news apps.

Mario describes his book as a

“digital book for our times, whether you are a reporter, editor, designer, teacher, student, or just a tablet user with curiosity about strategies that lead to good storytelling in this marvelous new platform.”

Check out the intro video:

The book is chockfull of good information. Really, it should be required reading for anyone in news and content industries just starting to explore the tablet canvas. Mario covers these topics in the book: Storytelling, Navigation, Look & Feel, Pop-Ups, Advertising, Economics, and Media Quartet.

Of course, true to his tablet design beliefs, the book has an abundance of photo slide shows, audio and video files, hyper links, and much more. But the multi-media never get in the way of the written words. Fortunately, words still play an important part in the New World.

I’m honored to have contributed a case study for the book in the form of video interviews with my fellow colleagues at Next Issue on topics ranging from introducing Next Issue to talking about creating navigation paradigms for digital magazines. Case studies are a big part of the book by the way. And that’s great. We are all learning and experimenting together.

Congratulations Mario on a great and educational book! (Also congrats to Reed, who I know worked very hard as editor and art director on the book).

Buy iPad Design Lab in iTunes for $9.99 (you can get a sample for free too)

What is Next Issue all about?

Haven’t really talked about my day-time job at Next Issue too much on this blog, but here’s an opportunity to share. In a nutshell, we offer enhanced editions of the world’s most popular magazines, optimized for tablets.

At CES last week, I had the pleasure to be interviewed by Ian Hamilton, my former colleague from OC Register and writer for the OC Unwired blog. In the interview we discuss where Next Issue fits in the digital publishing space. Specifically, Ian asks why we are focusing on Android tablets. Check out my answer to that and my pointers on what makes Next Issue unique. We are just getting started and 2012 will be an exciting year for us. Stay tuned for more news.

Let me know what you think of the video.

Check out Ian’s blog post here.

Content design for tablets: swipe versus scroll

A while ago, Mario Garcia, renowned newspaper and magazine design consultant, asked me to comment on tablet design for an article he was writing for the Austrian marketing and media magazine Horizont. His question came through Twitter: “What is your take on swipe vs. scrolling?”

I sent him an email back, and while we wait for the Austrian to English translation of the Horizont article, I thought I would share my response here.

What’s the difference?

“Swiping” happens between two distinct pages, whether they move vertically or horizontally, whereas scrolling is a continuous movement. We are familiar with vertical scrolling from web pages, but horizontal scrolling also occurs with the introduction of “carousels” or “sliders”.

The curated experience – print reinvented

Before getting into the differences, let’s talk about an over arching trend in tablet content apps. Whether they are static (updated periodically) or dynamic (web based, connected to an RSS feed or similar), many apps try to create the sense of an edition based, finite and curated experience. This is true both for newspaper and magazine apps as well as aggregator apps like Flipboard or Editions by AOL.

It can be argued that we are entering the era of “Curated Computing“, a term coined by Sarah Rotman Epps from Forrester. It basically means that people are looking for less but more relevant content, packaged for easy consumption.

This trend is important to note when discussing swiping versus scrolling.

 Swipe signals a start and an end

For publishers attempting to create an “edition based” experience similar to print, swiping from page to page gives readers a sense of familiarity. They’ve done this before. Progressing from one page to another, they use a gesture very similar to what they would have used in the good old print days. Because of that they sense there is a start and an end.

I believe a big group of users are looking for that familiarity and experience. Even apps not founded in legacy newspapers/magazines are attempting to create that sense of familiarity: The Daily, Project Magazine, and all the aggregator apps as I mentioned before, such as Flipboard, Zite, Editions by AOL and the latest, Livestand from Yahoo!. (For more reading on the rise of aggregator apps, check out these articles from Nieman Journalism Lab and Hoosier40.com). Continue reading

Social Commerce – what we can learn from Kobo, aNobii and Foursquare

Earlier this week PaidContent wrote about social reading site aNobii (means bookworm in Latin). The goal of aNobii, according to CEO Matteo Berlucchi is

“… to create a social commerce platform that will allow people to find, share and buy books beyond the bestseller lists with an emphasis on creating an environment where people can talk about the books they love.”

Brilliant. Social commerce is the new e-commerce. For enthusiasts of any type of content (books, music, magazines, news), it’s not enough to be able to transact. They want to belong. They want to feel part of a community of like-minded people.  And that’s what aNobii is striving for.  I quickly got myself an aNobii profile and now have the ability to rate, review and join book discussions. Check it out here.

While aNobii is still building out their platform, in my mind, Kobo provides the gold standard for what social e-reading is all about. Kobo’s Reading Life has given them the edge over Amazon Kindle and Nook  by Barnes & Noble and is now my go-to app for e-reading on my iPad.

As I read, I earn rewards in the form of badges, similar to what you see from FourSquare.

All my reading activity is tracked and presented to me in a gorgeous infographic. Continue reading

Designing newspaper and magazine editions for tablets

I have been invited to speak at two conferences in St. Louis. Same topic, two different audiences. That’s what I call synergy. I am in good company. I will be sharing the stage both Thursday and Friday with Mike Schmidt, Art Director at The Daily, while Robert Newman, Creative Director of Reader’s Digest will join us Friday. Topic of discussion: Designing newspaper and magazine editions for tablets.

Below you will find links to the presentations and some other blog posts I have been writing about tablet design and strategies in general.

Thursday presentation: The Newspaper Is Dead, Long Live the NewstabletPresented at: Tablet/Mobile Strategies and Visions for News Organizations, sponsored by the Reynolds Journalism Institute, the Digital Publishing Alliance, the American Society of News Editions and the Mid-America Press Institute.

Friday presentation: Designing For Tablet – The New Breed: Storyteller/Designer/Programmer. Presented at SND STL (Society for News Design)

Posts about tablet design and strategies

A Publisher’s Guide to Tablet Innovation

One Week Into Launch of News iPad App: What’s the Feedback?

Tablet Strategies for Publishers: Framework for Content and Form

Tablet Product Strategy Revealed (VIDEO)

What The Launch Of The Daily Means For Local Publishers

A Publisher’s Guide to Tablet Innovation

The tablet market was established one year ago with the introduction of the iPad. No publishing company can say they have discovered the right strategy for serving audiences through this channel. The technology is evolving rapidly and new tablet devices are coming on the market every month. To remain relevant, you have to be able to change course faster than ever.

Recently, we launched The Orange County Register iPad app. The app is just one publisher’s experiment among many others to create a relevant news experience for tablets. I am 100% sure we did not hit the bullseye with the OCR app. Our readers have told us so. And that is great. A runaway hit would have been fantastic, but it was never expected. Rather, the idea all along has been to release the app, ask for feedback, then improve the app accordingly. Quickly.

We have created a framework for innovation to help us do two things: 1) Ensure continuous product development, 2) Set us up for the next breakthrough idea. This framework is specific to the tablet space, but it could easily be adapted for any other industry. Below, I am describing our framework in detail. Continue reading

One Week Into Launch of News iPad App: What’s the Feedback?

We are one week into the soft launch of the new Orange County Register iPad app (download), and the feedback is starting to flow in. Good and bad.

From the outset, we had the feeling the product we are developing would not be for everyone. We are distinctively aiming for an audience interested in a curated, highly designed lean-back experience. It is an experience that perhaps won’t appeal to a so-called “news junkie.”  A study conducted about The Daily revealed that they face such a dilemma. “Light” readers love the app while “heavy” readers are skeptical. (I wrote about that here prior to launch.)

For us it is still early, but there are indicators our readers are divided into two camps also. There are those who love the easy navigation, the focus on photos and design, the high use of multimedia. And then there are those who are not satisfied with one complete evening edition (we publish at 6pm) spiced up with some RSS feeds throughout the day. Personally, I can certainly relate to both camps.

Below, I have tried to organize and respond to the feedback received from April 19 through April 26. The feedback is gathered from Twitter, Facebook, iTunes, blogs and emails. I hope you will take the time to leave your comments at the end as well. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Tablet Product Strategy Revealed (VIDEO)

We are about two weeks away from launch of our newest app for the Orange County Register and I finally have something cool to show. We put together a little demo video showing what the app will look like. Check it out and let me know what you think:

The app is a product of many months of hard work from a team of people from across departments. The content is managed in our current CMS NewsGate from CCI and exported to Woodwing’s Pro App Reader.

We will publish a designed and interactive edition every weekday and Saturday at 6pm. Each edition will consist of up to 60 stories curated from the Orange County Register’s newsroom, third party content providers as well as unique stories made specifically for the iPad. In addition, each edition will include a highly interactive magazine-like feature story. The app will also include a breaking news widget, some RSS feeds, weather and traffic widgets.

Just recently, President for Freedom Interactive, Doug Bennett, presented our tablet strategy at MediaXchange. You can download the full presentation here. I thought I would elaborate a bit below about our thinking behind the strategy. Let me know what you think. Continue reading