As we all know, our generation is seeing a transition to a mobile era, which means more and more individuals are clamouring for content “on the go”. And that means content that they can interact with. With roughly one mobile device in circulation for every person inhabiting our planet today, what does this mean for content publishers like online magazines?

EVOLVE OR DEVOLVE

The message is clear. Online magazine publishers must either evolve into the interactive domain, or face extinction. Here are a few things to keep in mind when making that transition to an interactive magazine publication:

1.) PLANNING: Even if you are starting from scratch, a good plan is important. Knowing the type of interactivity your audience clamours for, and how to serve it up takes meticulous planning. The planning process is even more complex if you are an existing online magazine trying to break into the interactive magazine market
2.) CONCEPTUALIZATION: Think like your “average interactive reader”, and then come up with ideas to serve that target audience what they want. One key tip: Don’t overdo it! Too many interactive features on a single page/article can turn readers off!
3.) CONTENT CREATION: While traditional online content must be informative, adding interactivity calls for additional dimensions: Exclusive. Entertaining. Engaging. Keep these 3 pillars in mind when sourcing or creating content for your Interactive Mag
4.) LAYING IT ALL OUT:  Most online publications can get away with a traditional row/column and hyper-linked content. Interactive magazines need more. Think graphics and visual layout as opposed to text-based content. Think well integrated content without too much “blank” space. Think fonts and colors that are mobile device friendly. Seek help from professional layout and formatting service providers might be well worth it
5.) PHASING IT IN: Don’t overwhelm your readers with too many bells and whistles all at once, especially if you already have an existing readership. Introducing interactivity in small doses is the best advice. If possible (highly recommended!) provide options for readers to view the same content in both interactive and “conventional” form
6.) TEST…THEN TEST SOME MORE: The importance of testing cannot be over emphasised! There’s nothing more that will turn away a reader than a bad “user experience”. Test your publications on multiple mobile devices. Test them at various times of day. And test ALL features – including non-interactive ones – to make sure it all hangs together as you planned!
7.) GET THE WORD AROUND: Before you launch, make sure readers know exactly what to expect. And do that well in advance! Use Press Releases, advertisements, TV and Radio, and other conventional and unconventional marketing media where affordable. And remember to enable a feedback mechanism so you can quickly address areas that users don’t particularly fancy!

Following these few principles will ensure that your move into Interactive Magazines will be an unconditional success.

TOOLS OF THE TRADE

Of course the successful transition or creation of an Interactive Mag depends on the tools that you select. Tools such as Layar or Adobe InDesign are favourites among Interactive Magazine publishers. However, before equipping your team with a particular tool:

1.) Select tools that your team are comfortable with
2.) Where possible, ensure there is a low learning curve involved
3.) To ensure minimum disruption to existing print/online content, use tools that will also work with your existing environment

Armed with the right tools, you are now ready to bring interactivity into your publication!

MAKING THE LEAP

Traditional online publications have run their course, and are now seeing declining interest. The time of the Interactive Magazine is here, and it’s high time that publishers embrace this bold new medium. Change is always difficult, and that’s why most successful transitions occur gradually.

Teaming up with The Fast Fingers book formatting service, which also provides high-quality Interactive Magazine formatting, can make that leap all the more palatable. But unless you take a leap of faith now, you’ll be left behind in the age of nostalgia!

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