Select Page

Here are some tips for making sure your ‘publication-style website’ presents the right elements to provide readership interaction and revenue producing functionality.

A website is no longer just an online yellow page ad or business card brochure. Full flash web sites and other catchy graphics can be interesting for a first time visitor,but the real goal for a publication’s online strategy is to provide ongoing unique visitor interaction value that produces regular website return visitation. Most people today consider the website presentation to be a solid indicator of the value,stability,and professionalism behind the product or service offered by a company. The same is true for the website’s representation of your publication.Save yourself the cost,time,and hassle of ongoing web site re-designs and upgrades by having a solid ‘publication readership user value plan’ from the start. There are many ways to make your website work for you,and not against you.

As you prepare to launch and during your launch publicity,your website will probably see more eyeballs than your magazine prototype. For a publication,the right website model represents an even greater opportunity for success since the right publication style website will support publication marketing,revenue,and readership interaction goals. The reality today is that many existing publishers have huge investments or even web committed staff yet their website’s presentation does not have the simple design & functionality elements necessary to be an asset to their print magazine. This existing market weakness represents a tremendous opportunity to the new magazine startup entrepreneur or existing publisher that takes action to migrate to the right website model.

Website Design & Functionality

Your website design should be optimized for readership interaction,revenue development,and promotion of your publication niche and brand. Navigation from your home page should provide simple and clear access to your key functionality elements. Remember your target market is your readership and your primary navigation should focus on links to the website resources and functionality directed toward this audience. Advertiser and other business purpose directed information (discussed below) should not have primary navigation prominence that confuses a reader interaction focused visit. For example: If your link to "Advertising in our Magazine" is a top navigation link,look at your site stats to see how many people leave your site once they hit that reader visitor "dead end" page.

You certainly don’t want to overwhelm a site visitor with a massive home page and navigation links. Flat navigation to support a quick lookup "in and out" site visit,like a major Daily newspaper website like the LA Times or Time Magazine is great if you get over 10,000 visitors every day. Your website visitors will have a different expectation of your smaller niche website and will expect an experience consistent with values of your print brand. It’s ok to have more navigation elements than the half a dozen key website functionality elements,but be sure that someone taking a test drive on your site can clearly see which links lead to your top value and functionality driven pages. A growing magazine can create their own unique online experience that will keep visitors interested and coming back for interaction.

A simple test for web site navigation usability is to consider that your objective is to captivate a new “reader prospect” website visitor to read and visit several of your top readership value pages. A “reader prospect” is a member of your target demographic,so don’t try to impress the website visitors that aren’t potential readers,there probably not going to come back anyway. Create a home page design and navigation presentation based on a hypothetical 45 second review visit by a reader prospect with clicks on up to 5 of your primary navigation links on your website. Note that for many publisher websites,over 50% of the visitors leave within the first 30 seconds. Make sure each of those precious clicks will bring your readers and visitors to a web page that provides specific readership value,sells your brand,and creates a reason to come back to your website. You’ll want to present at least 3 if not all 4 of the below dimensions on each top navigation linked page.

Key Website Value Dimensions for Top Level Navigation Pages:

  • Content – Articles,news & event content,as well as an introduction to the publication’s brand for first time visitors(website content management functionality)
  • Interaction / Community – Niche community interaction opportunities (website forums / message board,reader feedback / opinions,or some type of reader profiles)
  • Commerce – Proper balance of commerce capabilities (be careful with those affiliate links) including subscriptions – support of a core commerce objective (website shopping cart,merchandising functionality)
  • Resource – Niche,industry,or other unique online directory or resources (website resource database engine functionality)

Functionality to support these reader visit purposes will allow your site to exceed expectations and creates a positive user experience.Underscoring the benefit of the functionality elements is the ability these components provide for marketing and promotion of both your print publication and continued interaction with your readership.All these elements working together provide synergy that enables you to create online community and parallel promotion of your print publication brand.

So what about those standard general information pages that need to be added to your website? As mentioned earlier,websites often contain “administrative information” as primary navigation links and thus diminish the balance of the site away from a clean reader interactive presentation. Administrative information such as: Advertising Information,Customer Service & Contact Information,and Publication Contacts are all valuable components to have published online but are not part of the “target audience” site user experience interaction and brand building purpose of the website. Keep this information in a logical sequence as a sub navigation of the “About Us” page of your website or place on a secondary navigation link group (for example: About Us – Subscriber Services – SiteMap – Advertisers).The users looking for this aspect of business or customer service information will still have no problem locating this information. Also,don’t forget to include a privacy policy,terms of use statement,and copyright on each of your web pages.

Pre Launch Tips

You’ve got your magazine concept and a business plan to make it happen. You’ll be pitching some important audiences during your pre-launch that are not your standard demographic “target readers”.

Potential Advertisers – Your website will demonstrate the value,design,and exposure opportunities they will have in both your print and online readership interactions. If your potential advertisers see that your website will contain an industry,regional,or special interest business (or resource) directory they will certainly want to be included.

Potential Readers,Retailers,and Distribution Partners – Your website represents an opportunity to show readers that you will have “beyond print” opportunities for interaction and information. Use your eNewsletter to start your subscriber / reader interest list or even to take “premier issue” paid subscriptions.

Potential Financial Partners – Investors are also looking to see that your web presentation provides the framework for success. Pre-publication launch,your website should provide a phone contact and email address for the publisher,owner,or executive contact for those higher level business interactions. Yes,you will get sales calls – but a potential business partner or investor may not want to send an e-mail or leave a message on a generic email address or phone number.

Media,Publicity,Writers,Contributors – Again,list the relevant email and contact information to make sure partners,vendors,or contributors can connect with the right person with their interest in working with you. You can always refine the posted contact information to a more customer service based set of contacts once you are up and running.

These tips will help insure that you create the right impression and experience for your website visitors. The small investment to have a professionally planned website solution prepared could save you from wondering why your website is not producing results later and could be a key element to your startup success.

Best wishes for profitability success with your website and an exciting magazine launch!