Archive for December, 2011

How magazines can improve their iPad apps

December 9, 2011

There’s a great post on the blog carpeaqua on writer Justin Williams’s frustrations to do with magazine iPad editions – and suggested improvements. His recommendations include valuing efficiency for the user, allowing backgrounded and multiple downloads, and making it easy to archive older issues to free up drive space.

I’d like to add a couple more, too. First, to Apple and Zinio: Provide better options for users to browse through and discover issues. The advantage of a virtual newsstand over a physical one is to allow multiple methods of organization. For instance, I’d like to be able to browse by language or country. Second, to magazine publishers: there’s no reason subscription prices should be higher in foreign markets. You’re not mailing the apps and there’s no justification for price variations – you’re just driving away potential revenue sources. Third, and this one’s for Bloomberg Businessweek in particular, though I’m sure everyone’s guilty of something: test, test, test. Then test every possible scenario again. I paid for a month-long digital subscription but only downloaded one issue during that time – and now it won’t let me download the other three. That’s the kind of thing that makes readers unhappy with your brand, which is presumably not what you’re going for.

Are you reading magazines on the iPad? What do you think publishers could improve on?

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When starting a community site makes sense

December 2, 2011

It used to be all the rage to want to start a “community” on every website. But as Google is learning, no one will use your social media site if the need isn’t there. Facebook and Twitter filled needs that were previously unfulfilled. But a social site aimed at a community that doesn’t exist, or one that already has a place to interact, is unlikely to succeed unless there’s a compelling reason for users to switch from what they’re already using.

Niche sites, however, might have reason to start a social site of their own. For instance, Farhad Manjoo recently wrote on Slate about Ravelry, an online community for knitters. Non-knitters might find this bemusing, but knitters have a huge community online. It makes sense, after all: it’s an activity that’s very popular, often solitary, visual (requiring lots of photos) and beneficial of community support, whether it’s recommending patterns and yarns or offering assistance on a tough project. And while knitters want to talk a lot about knitting, their non-knitter Facebook friends probably don’t want to hear as much about it – so there’s good reason to go elsewhere for knitting talk.

BBC News just posted a story with a couple of other interesting examples, like a tool company with over 35,000 member in its community. Not only does it let tool lovers talk about how they love and use their tools, but it offers the company good customer insight – and offers customers community support.

Thinking of building your own network? Ask yourself: Are people already out there talking about this subject? And do they have an online home?