Digitial newspaper/magazine editions user experience

13 Jul 2009 - 11:24am
5 years ago
8 replies
632 reads
robenslin
2008

Good afternoon,
With print production costs spiralling out of control I'm currently looking
at alternative ways at presenting our magazine content - perhaps in a
digital format? Our product is currently available online, but I've noticed
many newspapers offer a digital edition to its users... in addition to its
website content (and print versions).

Personally, I struggle to enjoy these digital editions with page
peelers/turners, animations, zooming, etc as far as a UX goes - I'd prefer
to consume the website version or paper.

Does anyone know if research has been conducted (or has conducted research)
to support digital editions in terms of a positive user experience (user
outcomes)? Or, is it perhaps a notion that large newspapers simply do to
offer/repackage their content in a different format?

Thanks in advance,

-- Rob

Comments

13 Jul 2009 - 12:16pm
usabilitycounts
2008

I've talked to a few publishers, and they said that interest in the
digital edition (PDF, etc.) was limited at best (proved by web stats).
The publishers were interested in recouping some of the advertising
costs, but the results were negligible.

On Jul 13, 2009, at 9:24 AM, Rob Enslin wrote:

> ...
>
> Does anyone know if research has been conducted (or has conducted
> research)
> to support digital editions in terms of a positive user experience
> (user
> outcomes)? Or, is it perhaps a notion that large newspapers simply
> do to
> offer/repackage their content in a different format?
>
> Thanks in advance,
>
> -- Rob

Patrick

twitter: usabilitycounts | uxlosangeles | cooltechjobs

email: pat at usabilitycounts.com | blog: http://www.usabilitycounts.com

13 Jul 2009 - 1:57pm
Jesse Zolna
2008

In my experience, users are looking for the same general content
online as in print, but there are vastly different expectations in
terms of presentation. For the most part these expectations make
sense. Why would a publisher simply place their print materials
online? Was early TV just a video of people reading stories that
were previously on the radio? Was the length, distribution, and
format of literature the same after the printing press? As with any
new technology it is best to leverage its strengths, and users
intuitively expect that.

Examples of some of the things that have come up in my research are:

Timeliness and updates. "Real time web"
More visual information including extra pictures and video.
A more familiar feel (e.g., bloggers you can identify and 'get to
know').
Hyperlinks and recommendations for related content (on and off site).
Search (obv).
Depending upon situation, maybe personalization and ability to narrow
down what is presented.

I am sure there are more. I doubt that users would get excited if
you posted a pdf version of your magazine to the interwebs.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43670

13 Jul 2009 - 2:53pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Jul 13, 2009, at 12:24 PM, Rob Enslin wrote:

> Does anyone know if research has been conducted (or has conducted
> research)
> to support digital editions in terms of a positive user experience
> (user
> outcomes)?

There's been a lot of research on this topic, primarily from the folks
at Poynter.

And, no, there's no evidence to suggest that anything beyond an
article rendered in HTML provides any positive experience to the reader.

The best-of-class in online news these days are, in my opinion, New
York Times, Financial Times, and BBC News. They use the web in ways to
enhance the delivery of news, not detract from it.

Jared

Jared M. Spool
User Interface Engineering
510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
e: jspool at uie.com p: +1 978 327 5561
http://uie.com Blog: http://uie.com/brainsparks Twitter: @jmspool

13 Jul 2009 - 1:05pm
Anonymous

Although we haven't conducted a specific study on the UI of the
digital format, we have heard anecdotal feedback re: these digital
additions. Some of the user benefits include being able to see your
ad (if you placed one) in the print addition if print is unavailable,
finding articles or photos not included on the website, and being able
to quickly navigate to pages or sections readers may be familiar with.
Ironically, the digital additions probably do better for those papers
whose web additions have UI problems or limit their online content:
users may bypass the web to go to something more familiar and
scannable.

I agree with you that the current UX tools available are not optimal
- maybe there's a business opportunity here for someone who wants to
improve on these tools.

-David

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43670

14 Jul 2009 - 9:35am
Jason Pamental
2008

I agree with what's been written: the web-based experience seems much
more worthwhile than the 'digital versions' with their interface
quirks.

What does seem to be an interesting development are the iPhone
versions of things like NY Times: it's really quite good, and
appropriate to the medium. A different experience than the web - not
as 'browsable' as viewing a whole front page together, but much
less clutter when your focus is just on the article itself. I wonder
if anyone has tried the Kindle experience with the NY Times?

Cheers,

Jason

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43670

14 Jul 2009 - 11:48am
robenslin
2008

Thanks for all your comments and feedback.
Judging the responses it appears that the majority of you report
(anecdotally and with data) user experiences not living up to their original
print versions and expectations. Whilst there are some advantages to be
gained (richer content, more visual, hyper-linking, tracking, etc) from
electronic versions, looking at alternative options might be better time
spent. Alternatives might include mobile (including apps) versions,
kindle-type offerings, and existing online improvements.

Take aways for me include:

"interest in digital editions was limited at best (proved by web stats)"

*Patrick *

"Ironically, the digital additions probably do better for those papers whose
> web additions have UI problems or limit their online content: users may
> bypass the web to go to something more familiar and scannable."

*David*

"there's no evidence to suggest that anything beyond an article rendered in
> HTML provides any positive experience to the reader."

*Jared*

Best regards.

--Rob

2009/7/14 Jason Pamental <jpamental at addventures.com>

> I agree with what's been written: the web-based experience seems much
> more worthwhile than the 'digital versions' with their interface
> quirks.
>
> What does seem to be an interesting development are the iPhone
> versions of things like NY Times: it's really quite good, and
> appropriate to the medium. A different experience than the web - not
> as 'browsable' as viewing a whole front page together, but much
> less clutter when your focus is just on the article itself. I wonder
> if anyone has tried the Kindle experience with the NY Times?
>
> Cheers,
>
> Jason
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43670
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
/ Rob Enslin
/ robenslin.com
/ twitter.com/robenslin
/ +44759 052 8890

14 Jul 2009 - 12:30pm
Christine Boese
2006

Just to add one further thought about the non-strict HTML available versions
of publications: they often divorce themselves from the URL/Bookmark
ecoystem of the web at large, and that is perhaps their largest evil.

What is the point of some slick and page-turning interface when they have no
URL to bookmark, no way to return from outside the app, and most social
bookmarking systems also will require a URL as a coin of the realm.

I've seen Zinio and some of these companies/tools, but most of them seem to
me like cutting off one's nose to spite one's face.

Chris

On Tue, Jul 14, 2009 at 12:48 PM, Rob Enslin <robenslin at gmail.com> wrote:

> Thanks for all your comments and feedback.
> Judging the responses it appears that the majority of you report
> (anecdotally and with data) user experiences not living up to their
> original
> print versions and expectations. Whilst there are some advantages to be
> gained (richer content, more visual, hyper-linking, tracking, etc) from
> electronic versions, looking at alternative options might be better time
> spent. Alternatives might include mobile (including apps) versions,
> kindle-type offerings, and existing online improvements.
>
> Take aways for me include:
>
> "interest in digital editions was limited at best (proved by web stats)"
>
> *Patrick *
>
> "Ironically, the digital additions probably do better for those papers
> whose
> > web additions have UI problems or limit their online content: users may
> > bypass the web to go to something more familiar and scannable."
>
> *David*
>
> "there's no evidence to suggest that anything beyond an article rendered in
> > HTML provides any positive experience to the reader."
>
> *Jared*
>
> Best regards.
>
> --Rob
>
> 2009/7/14 Jason Pamental <jpamental at addventures.com>
>
> > I agree with what's been written: the web-based experience seems much
> > more worthwhile than the 'digital versions' with their interface
> > quirks.
> >
> > What does seem to be an interesting development are the iPhone
> > versions of things like NY Times: it's really quite good, and
> > appropriate to the medium. A different experience than the web - not
> > as 'browsable' as viewing a whole front page together, but much
> > less clutter when your focus is just on the article itself. I wonder
> > if anyone has tried the Kindle experience with the NY Times?
> >
> > Cheers,
> >
> > Jason
> >
> >
> > . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> > Posted from the new ixda.org
> > http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43670
> >
> >
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> > List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> > List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
> >
>
>
>
> --
> / Rob Enslin
> / robenslin.com
> / twitter.com/robenslin
> / +44759 052 8890
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

16 Jul 2009 - 10:20am
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Jul 14, 2009, at 12:48 PM, Rob Enslin wrote:

> Judging the responses it appears that the majority of you report
> (anecdotally and with data) user experiences not living up to their
> original
> print versions and expectations. Whilst there are some advantages to
> be
> gained (richer content, more visual, hyper-linking, tracking, etc)
> from
> electronic versions, looking at alternative options might be better
> time
> spent. Alternatives might include mobile (including apps) versions,
> kindle-type offerings, and existing online improvements.

I think that the value in online news sources is that you can do
things that can't be done in print. Emulation of a print metaphor
(full-page spreads, turning pages) is akin to how television tried to
emulate live theatre when it first emerged (fixed-position cameras,
lighting, and staging).

I think those institutions that look at the experience of taking in
news, understanding the different contexts and objectives, will come
away with innovations that really make an online news source something
very desirable.

I want to highlight Andrew DeVigal and the team at the New York Times
with the amazing work they are doing. The NYTimes interactive pieces
are brillliantly constructed and quickly immersive. They tell the
story and give perspective in a way you can't see from the print
edition.

Print will always have its place, but interactive news is going to
come into its own very quickly as a desirable and engaging experience.

That's my opinion. (As always, it's worth exactly what you paid for it.)

Jared

Jared M. Spool
User Interface Engineering
510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
e: jspool at uie.com p: +1 978 327 5561
http://uie.com Blog: http://uie.com/brainsparks Twitter: @jmspool

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