Android smartphone
Credit: Image by Johan Larsson on Flickr. Creative commons licence. Some rights reserved.
The 'magic of mobile' session at yesterday's PPA digital conference was a chance for key players in mobile publishing to explain what has made their products a success.

Jonny Kaldor, whose Pugpig publishing platform provides mobile apps for Grazia, Which?, The Spectator, Men's Fitness, The Week and more, told what he believes are the key points to remember for publishers looking to go mobile.

1. Rediscover the publication's core

Ask yourself the following two questions, advises Kaldor: "what's at the core of our brand?" And "what's the DNA that makes up this product?" advises Kaldor.

He then suggests you "throw away the print legacy" and ask 'how do we take this content and the community of interests wrapped around it and create something that really makes sense on this phone and this tablet?".

If a publication can deliver an app that is unmistakably recognisable – but still new and innovative – that is where success will lie, he said.

Ask questions of the print edition, "then build this thing back up and it'll have the same brand values as the print product but it will be a different thing".

2. Find the perfect match between supply and demand

Kaldor's Venn diagram of what a publisher delivers, what the audience requests, and what the publisher thinks they want showcases where he says the greatest success lies in apps for publishers.

Kaldor Venn diagram
Jonny Kaldor's Venn diagram of customer satisfaction

Giving the audience what they want will make people "content", said Kaldor, but it is only if a publisher delivers something that person didn't know they wanted that he or she will be "delighted".

3. Don't reproduce the print edition

"Don't pick up the print magazine and look at it and say how do I translate that page to that device, and then the next page, and do a lazy translation of print to digital," he said. Titles like Grazia, or Cyclist or Which? all have new features built into them. Cyclist has 360 degree views of new bikes, for example, Grazia has a shopping function.
"The beauty of The Week is it translates beautifully to the phone and we didn't need to add loads of gizmos," he said. "But with consumer magazines you can really take advantage of extra features like shopping and wishlisting to lift it above the print equivalent."

4. The launch product is not the finished product

Publishers should get a beautiful, simple app on the market and then build on that, said Kaldor, not try to throw every possible feature into the mix straight away.

"The Week was a really good example of putting stuff in people's hands and then using that as a way to properly determine what's important," he said.

Kaldor said a team may come up with 50 ideas and features that they want to include, but if they overwhelm their reader at the beginning then they will not want to come back. The key is in phasing it in slowly and getting feedback, then a publisher can build something that people will want to return to.

This also means persuading those who hold the purse strings to get behind the idea of forward planning and multiple iterations of the product, but that is the only the start.

"A lot of people at the board level are facing these huge challenges and cash isn't flying around," he said, "so what a lot of people say is let's release it and see if we need to invest further.

"What is nicer is to launch it and run it with some investments to hone it and then when you're measuring your success it's on a product that has been in the market and honed."

For more on The Week's award-winning iPad app see this feature, for more on it's iPhone app see this article.

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