Did you know there is a difference between print and the web? Shocking, I know, but I regularly talk to publishers who want their website to be as high gloss as their magazine. You know, that magazine that they spend hours upon hours slaving over and that comes out every month or so?
Well, as it turns out, this is just a bad idea. Sure, we all want our sites to be attractive but there’s a lot more at stake than that. The web is simply more more timely, more soundbite-oriented… more complicated than print. No one fails to understand what to do with a magazine as a user, the experience goes as follows:
- Pick up magazine
- open magazine and begin perusing (some people quickly flip pages, others go straight to the Table of Contents and still others look at every page)
- When you find content you want to consume, stop turning pages and read
- Continue and repeat… jump to other content areas by turning multiple pages at once
Clearly this process doesn’t need describing but using the web is not this intuitive and it’s not driven by our tactile interaction with the world. In print you can focus on beauty and maximizing aesthetics, online you need to maximize across a myriad of user experience (UX) variables.
The good news is that while more complicated than print it’s also more viral, that is shareable. You think you have a long shelf-life in a magazine at 2-4 months? Try forever for an article online… sure not many people read articles that are years old but Google does and when people search for that Dry Cleaner referenced in May of 2009 they may very well find you. If you do it right. And, wouldn’t you know it, this sort of local power is valuable and more than just in ad sales.
Print readership will remain strong for years because of these same very issues but remaining print-only will no longer be commercially viable for local publishers. While it’s a scary time there are as many opportunities for local publishers as there are risks, you just need the right partner to lead you through the gauntlet.