fredag den 31. oktober 2014

Pitch for a Supermarket's web magazine

The pitch meeting was held yesterday with the client, and all in all it went really well. Their own digital project manager arrived a few minutes after I started, and about 3/4 of the way through she started challenging the whole basis for the web magazine with S.E.O. questions and statistics that were pretty much irrelevant.

She said that she wanted the digital magazine to be embedded within not only their own CMS (which is very likely an older version of Umbraco than we use, and will present an uphill development battle and low usability for the backend users) but also embedded within their own web site. I have to challenge this with every fiber of my professional opinion. 

Firstly, the addition of the corporate branded top navigation that eats up 30% of the screen real-estate  on an iPad would conflict with the magazine own brand and identity. This ruins the concept of packaging each issue with it's own front cover. Secondly, it would add far too many layers of navigation and require the user to make a harder decision each time they want to move around the magazine. It would basically confuse and distract from the reading environment I have created. And ther is *no way* their web site's navigation can replace the magazine's, which is optimised for the medium itself.

She then suggested that we remove the corporate navigation on tablets and iPhones, as their current statistics show these are used more during the evening hours where people tend to read online. Then she said "nobody reads magazines on a desktop or laptop".

I find their current statistics are highly useless when applied to a medium that does not exist yet. The reason there are no good statistics for web magazines being enjoyed on laptops and desktops, is because so few online publishers have managed to grasp what a distraction-free, immersive and comfortable reading environment on a web site should be like.

I truly believe that if these factors are in place, we will have success. Readers will read:

  • Content is relevant for the reader. Don't publish just because you can. 
  • Content is presented in a way that is visually and aesthetically pleasing.
  • Content and navigation is usability-centric to the reading experience.
  • Reading environment should be as distraction-free as possible
I also believe that adding the corporate navigation to the desktop/laptop version sets that version up for failure, and will simply enforce the stigma that nobody wants to read magazines on a computer.

I agree there is a relevant concern that having the site on a separate CMS will mean that SEO will be divided between the Supermarket's corporate webshop and the customer magazine, but since they do not have the same content, communicate differently, and the magazine directs traffic to the web shop, there is little to lose and much to gain. Development of a proper SEO strategy will ensure that the web magazine will increase traffic and sales, as it can deliver content that is not available on their corporate site, content that appeals to people who are looking for recipes and articles rather than groceries.

Another thing that needs to be tackled is what happens when a reader decides to purchase the ingredients listed in one of the recipes, or one of the single items advertised between paragraphs in the articles. I would personally like to keep the reader in the magazine environment, so maybe we need to add a shopping basket to the magazine interphase somehow, rather than having them leave the magazine to make a purchase. However the very option to make a purchase, a quick conversion,  is a vast improvement over the printed version.

So it seems today I have to prepare these arguments in writing and present them to the decision maker, in the hope that logic and instinct will win.

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