Vioux is mobile product manager at Dennis, which publishes consumer magazines including The Week, which has won an award for its iPad app.
Vioux offered a list of dos and don'ts
- Don't make print replicas
Screen sizes are different to page sizes, both in shape and dimension, so replicating the print version for mobile simply will not work, Vioux told Journalism.co.uk."When journalists create a print version they work on every page as a single layout," she said. "You can't do that on with responsive design as it has to fit every screen size."
- Don't develop for just one device
"If you have your layout in mind you have to adapt it for the device," she said. "If you think about just the iPad or Nexus you'll have the layout in mind and not the content."
Keeping an open mind as to how the content can adapt to different devices with responsive design is vital.
- Don't develop the app without considering the production process of the editorial team
Speaking from personal experience, Vioux said that involving the editorial team at an early stage can save a lot of re-development down the line, and can give new insights into how best to go about the initial design.
"It really has to fit what they want otherwise you may have to do it again," she said. "For them a small thing might matter but for you it might not matter."
- Focus on the core of your product
For one magazine the team at Dennis made a "flat" inventory of the content in table format, with out any kind of visual presentation. This helped to "materialise the content from print and focus on the essence of the product," she said.
Once the editorial team understood what was at the core of the publication's content, the next step is to find out what the reader looks for.
"One of the best examples is the Cyclist mag," she said. "We did lots of user testing. People came and said we love the magazine because of the stories and the pictures and the editor said the same."
Boxes and pull quotes are often used to fill blank space in print editions but when it comes to digital it can make the page look cluttered and messy, especially if using responsive design.
- Adapt your content and take advantage of the features the different platforms offer
"It can be simple but you can use some of the amazing things from the iPad," Vioux said. "Galleries, videos, those kind of things. It can be simple but don't avoid the different options these devices can give you."
- Add clear rules for the editorial team
"When you work with the editorial team for the first time you can really help them by giving them some clear rules," she said.
Things like not putting text on the pictures, or ensuring they tag content properly, will help editorial teams to adjust while streamlining the process for the design and development team.
"It's better to tell them 10 basic rules at first and then, as they get used to the product, they can be more flexible," she said.
Each iteration of a mobile edition will give feedback from all sides – editorial, design, audience – on what is working for them and what isn't so it is important to let that feedback guide where the edition can go next.
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