Posts Tagged ‘websites’

10 keys to making your magazine website great

December 12, 2008

1. Create excellent content
As in print, this is number one by far. Create editorial that you believe in, you would click on and you would read. Without this step, the rest is unimportant.

2. Make it accessible
How will your potential readers find your content? Is it easy for readers to share with friends, whether through email or social media? Think about how to make content accessible for site visitors, Google and the rest of the web.

3. Make it web-friendly
Make your content easy to read on-screen by keeping it tight and focused, breaking it up, bolding key phrases and using bullets or numbered points when appropriate. Ensure titles are clickable and make sense.

4. Make it timeless
This isn’t always possible – dated content is dated content – but every article that can be evergreen should be evergreen. Make its lifespan as long as possible.

5. Think
It’s easy to slip into auto-pilot, but your work will suffer. Always think critically about the decisions you make and reassess what you’ve done in the past so you can make your work better. The web is constantly changing and you should be too.

6. Link
Don’t exist in a bubble – link to others and they will link back to you, plus you’ll be making your site more useful for readers. Believe in linking karma.

7. Be creative
Think beyond articles and explore other formats: slideshows, video, audio, blogs, tools. Explore how you can best serve your reader.

8. Communicate and engage
The best thing the web has to offer is its interactivity. Make use of this to create a conversation with your readers, whether it’s through site forums, newsletters, social media tools like Twitter or Facebook or simply email. Offer readers a chance to participate in your site.

9. Analyze
Make sure you have good analytics software, and keep track of your site stats. Know what people are reading and how they’re getting to your site. Know where they’re leaving from. Then use this information to develop and change.

10. Experiment
Know what’s common practice, but don’t rely on it. Stay informed about the latest and greatest in online publishing. Constantly experiment to see what works for your reader and your site. Try new things and always be willing to evolve.

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Step back and reassess

December 10, 2008

I’ve been busily marking the final projects for my class at Ryerson – their assignment was to assess a Canadian magazine website and suggest improvements, as if they were the new web editor – and it made me think: how often do we actually step back and take a look at our sites?

I’m always in the middle of analyzing statistics, assessing what people click on from the home page, looking at successes in SEO, planning editorial – all the day-to-day jobs. And occasionally, we get the chance to analyze specific ideas or sections of the site and think of improvements. But it’s rare that I have the time to pause for a long enough time and assess the site overall.

So here’s my suggestions: Give your site a performance review. (We all love those, right?) Get together with everyone involved in your site and set annual SMART goals for it. Do a three-month review. Do a six-month review. And at the end of the year, take a whole day together and really think about what you’ve achieved and what you’ve still got to do. Set aside the time, away from your email and telephone and people asking you to do things, and look at your site with open eyes and the perspective of a reader. You may be surprised at what you see when you take the time to look.

What does competition mean online?

October 6, 2008

In the magazine industry, we always keep an eye on our competitors, the magazines that we think readers might choose over ours at the bookstore, or whose subscribers we might lure away. To a certain degree, it’s a zero-sum game: the assumption is that most people (and this excludes us magazine addicts in the industry) will only buy a finite number of magazines every month and that we need to work hard to be one of their picks by competing with other magazines in our niche.

Online, the world’s quite different. For one thing, we’re not just competing with other magazines’ websites: we’re also competing with the rest of the web, and not just in Canada, either. On the one hand, it’s a somewhat daunting prospect. But on the other, it gives you room to breathe. After all, you’re not trying to sell an entire issue to people, just individual pieces of content (hopefully frequently). In the same way someone might read an entire magazine in an hour or two, they can read many different articles (and other types of content) from many different websites. Just because they choose to read Glamour doesn’t mean they won’t read Fashion, Flare, Elle and In Style in the same evening (not to mention glam.com, Sweetspot.ca and FabSugar).

So when you’re thinking of your website’s competition, think big and think small. Recognize that you’re not just competing with the newsstand, you’re competing with the whole world. But also recognize that readers are fickle – a high bounce rate on an article doesn’t mean they didn’t enjoy it, it just means they’ve moved on for now, as most of us do when browsing the web. The key is to keep them coming back.