The bane of online magazines: bloat

Why do magazine apps made with leading online publishing tools get average ratings of ’3 out of 5′ even for the top brands?

If the Internet tablet and the online magazine are a marriage made in heaven, then why do they often get along more like the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills? Why do even the most prestigious magazines receive only a 3 out of 5 rating?

digital publishing, magazine apps, web magazines, Newsstand


Browse a online newsstand where major brand magazines are downloaded. Skim the comments about how great the content is. Great content is what magazines are all about. Now go read the negative feedback. Yes, go do it, really. Ouch, right?

digital publishing, newsstand
digital magazines, newsstand

No matter how many different publications you scan, from one tech mag to another about cooking, or publications about cars, or turtles, or cars for turtles, there just seems to be a singular complaint so common it has become the bane of every online magazine publisher’s existence.

Why is this download so large?

500 megabytes! 800 megabytes! For just one issue of a online magazine? What the heck is in here? This thing has a bigger footprint than Sasquatch wearing combat boots.

Look closely at today’s leading online magazines and you’ll discover publications created with InDesign based print-oriented tools, then sausage-stuffed into a loose framework of binary code so they can be served up as online magazines.

When these online behemoths, essentially gussied-up PDFs the size of a summer action movie download, aren’t even intuitive with the way audiences engage with their tablets, is there any wonder why users leave bad ratings and reviews?

Users of modern mobile technology anticipate taking advantage of all the fruits today’s advances have to offer. The expectation to seamlessly consume content from one click away is absolute.

Consumers use portable media devices to build small libraries of the content they want to keep within arm’s reach. When you only have a limited amount of storage, a Shamu-sized file that takes up half a gigabyte is about as portable as an anvil.

What happens to those people in your audience who want to keep several, maybe all of your issues on their tablet? You never see a negative magazine review where somebody blames their hardware for not having enough memory.

My iPad ran out of space when adding some magazines
Keeping 10 issues on an iPad can take 5-6 Gb, 
yes that is about ONE THIRD of a 16b

Let’s do some simple maths here for the end-user cost. If a single issue is 500 Mb, then 10 issues go for a whopping 5Gb. At Apples iPad mini prices, the difference between 16Gb and 32Gb is 100USD. So the cost for the end-user to just carry 10 issues on their device, not even purchase these, sets users  roughly 30 USD back.

Large downloads also take more time.

Every single second that someone waits for your content to load potentially decreases the momentum hold you have on their attention. Those lost moments are the birthplace of those twitch decisions that lead a potential consumer to click away for something else instead.

Plus, how much do you think your bandwidth-conscious customer appreciates your bloated product? Will a user with a 5gb monthly mobile data plan now think twice before dedicating so much of their bandwidth to the consumption of your future content?

Bad user experiences can kill an audience’s relationship with your product… and even worse, with your brand.

Avoid bloat…alternatives exist

Bloat. It’s something that nobody wants. Not in our government, not on our waistlines, definitely not in our downloads. Bloat is an obstacle that stunts the potential of your content, especially when it’s responsible for bad user experiences.

Digital magazines have been around since the turn of the century. There is no reason they still need to be created using a online publishing methodology from the last millenium.  Don’t get me wrong, I love InDesign…to create a smashing print publication.

Consumers choose online magazines for the content within and the total experience. Today’s advanced online magazine publishing tools make use of instant-on web apps that greatly streamline the process of publication and audience engagement.

A company that believes they are saving resources by compiling the electronic edition from the print-ready files of the physical edition risks losing their tablet audience by continuing to deliver a product that disappoints. And in today’s world, ignoring the needs of your online audience base will send you the way of the Dodo bird so fast you won’t need a publicist to tell your tale, you’ll need an archaeologist.

You have seconds to grab and hold the attention of your prospects. Learn more about how to stand out, improve customer communications and make the best of your online custom magazines!

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