The 10 biggest digital magazine mistakes

So you’ve launched a digital magazine or you’ve created a digital twin for your print magazine. Congratulations! Now take this 10 point checkup to see how you’re doing. In a blog published by Unbound Media, Michelle Kalman tells of contacting a broad mix of industry experts to research some of the key problems in digital magazine publishing. These are 10 of the big mistakes she discovered.

1. Duplicating the print experience. The print and digital media are not the same. Both present limitations and opportunities. Recognize the limitations of the digital medium, but also be sure to take advantage of all the opportunities it offers to build your magazine’s community through social media tools or to extend your story through video.

2. Assuming the online user experiences digital content in the same way a reader experiences print content. Your online navigation may not easily parallel your printed table of contents. Online users may jump around more than print readers. The importance of position may change and you may need to make your advertisers aware of this fact.

3. Not bothering with research. Just because you’ve researched your print publication doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do research before you begin to develop your digital version. Look at successful online magazines and figure out what makes them work. Find out how your readers want to access content.

4. Failing to get the best digital talent you can afford. Hire talented web developers and designers to produce your digital version. They will know what works in print, but may not work on line. Don’t forget to invest in social media activities.

5. Producing too many pages. The attention span of an online reader is much shorter than that of a print reader. Forget the three-page articles with columns of grey type.  Break down content into smaller bites in separate sections. And don’t forget to include creative elements to keep the reader’s interest.

6. Not keeping up with changing technology. So you’ve created a digital magazine or a digital version of your print publication. What platform are your readers using? Does your online publication work well on that platform? Each platform has its own rules and restrictions. There’s iPads, Android tablets, various readers, and mobile apps–plus whatever came out last week. No single digital product is going to work well on all platforms. You’ll  need to keep up with the technology to know where best to spend your digital dollars.

7. Thinking of money before engagement. Is your digital publication a desperate attempt to pull in some funds for the organization? In that case, it’s likely to fail. You’ll need to create engaging, relevant content in order to attract and involve an audience.

8. Not considering the advertiser. Advertising considerations are not the same as reader requirements. Spend money and time on preparing the right online presence for your advertisers.

9. Forgetting to get feedback. As you are developing your new online  magazine, get input from all those who will have a stake in the success of the publication. That includes audience, advertisers, and your staff.

10. Being satisfied with the status quo. Keep improving; take advantage of new digital opportunities and make sure your content continues to be fresh and engaging.

You can hold posters accountable for what they say on your site

Posted by Pd: “How can [insert name] say he is a Christian? He is going to hell and is taking anyone stupid enough to believe what he says with him.” Would Pd be expressing himself (or herself) so viciously if his name was attached to his comments? How helpful is this comment, anyway? Those are questions being asked by some editors about the comments attached to the articles they publish on line. While they want to encourage feedback, they feel some comments serve only to infuriate later posters and lead to futile arguments. Is there a way to get posters to stand openly behind the comments they make?

Some publications have discovered a way to do just that. It is now possible to convert your commenting system to Facebook. As a result, readers who wish to comment must do so through their Facebook account. One big advantage to publications is that Facebook requires users to use their real names. Those names show up in the comments section on your Website. This should encourage better quality, more thoughtful comments. It is also easier for Facebook users to share articles and comments with their own contacts. And for those who “live” in Facebook, the system seems natural and comfortable.

The disadvantage, of course, is that your readers must be logged into Facebook in order to make a comment. While this isn’t a problem for those who stay logged in all the time, amazing as it may seem, there are those who rarely use Facebook or (gasp!) don’t even have a Facebook account. Those readers who aren’t on Facebook must either get an account or hold their peace.