Thursday, October 25, 2012

How to tailor news for 4 different platforms? 'Responsive design'

Versión en español aquí.

The Poynter Institute held a conference last week to showcase its latest study of how tablet users consume news and the problems designers have in satisfying these users' demands.

Tablets are rapidly becoming a platform of choice, with 22 percent of U.S. adults owning one, double the percentage of just a year ago, according to a Pew study.

Economy-minded publishers are trying to find ways to "publish the content once and have it adapt to all platforms"-- mobile, tablet, online and print -- Sam Kirkland writes.

"Responsive design" attempts to achieve this flexibility and was much discussed at the event, held at Medill School of Journalism, Responsive design is platform agnostic. It allows content like images to flow like water between a variety of devices and display correctly. It avoids having to employ legions of computer programmers to create a unique application for each of the dozens of mobile phones, tablets and other devices used to get the news.

Use templates

Smaller news organizations that lack resources to create specialized apps to display their contents can use inexpensive templates that work across platforms, said Mario Garcia, a principal in the Eyetrack study.

News organizations that want to remain relevant to their readers need to be on all platforms because many readers are using more than one device in a single day, Poynter's Regina McCombs told the conference.

Readers tend to use tablets and print for a more leisurely read (a "lean-back" experience) while they use mobile and online for an intense "lean-forward" engagement with breaking news.

Intimate readers

Some of the findings of the Eyetrack study of tablet readers:

  • Before selecting an article to read, readers  looked at an average of 18 items on the tablet. 
  • They spent an average of 98 seconds with the first article they read, which should tell writers and editors about the need to create compelling content.
  • Readers tend to prefer reading with the tablet in a horizontal position.
  • 61 percent were "intimate readers" who constantly touched the screen to move text and adjust viewing.
There has been a lot of hopeful talk about tablet readers saving newspapers and long-form journalism by providing the kind of intimate experience that print readers treasure.  Reuters columnist Felix Salmon sees no future in this revenue source, as he forecasts doom for the digital Newsweek

A new Pew study cited by Rick Edmonds finds some hopeful signs of revenue from mobile devices: 19 percent of those who get news via mobile have paid for a digital subscription. Of those, Pew found,

33 percent say they have added some kind of new digital subscriptions since getting their device. But only a quarter, 27 percent, say their digital subscriptions have replaced those they used to get in print, suggesting that a majority of these digital subscribers represent a new source of revenue for news. 
Looking for the business opportunity here, Edmonds concludes, "My own take on the business implications of the findings: Mobile advertising solutions are still very much a work in progress, but bundled subscriptions are looking better than ever. Sell users a subscription on their favorite platform and give them access to the rest free or at a small up charge." 

Given the growth in tablets, publishers have to be there. This Eyetrack study gives some clues of how to engage them. But everyone is still learning, and as they learn, new devices are being created that might make the ones we have less relevant. 

No comments:

Post a Comment