Evo magazine launched its iPad app three years ago, but with a desire to grow its subscriber base further and improve the download experience for its users, it recently decided to "completely re-think the app".
The result: a new, updating app which can be accessed on iPad, iPhone, Kindle Fire and Android devices. The app, which launched this week, is supported by new editorial workflows, a new design and even a new business model.
Working with developer agency Clearleft, as well as liaising with the editorial and marketing teams at publisher Dennis Publishing, the team focused on trying to "grow the audience and attract new people". This included looking at ways to entice its YouTube community of almost 200,000 subscribers onto the app, Vioux said.
The Dennis Publishing team assessed how audiences were interacting with other apps in the publisher's portfolio, such as those belonging to The Week and Cyclist, she said, and found that "people are really engaging with the app once a week or once a month, when the new issue is coming live".
"We can see in analytics that there is a big peak in the active users, and then it's coming down for the rest of the week, or for the rest of the month."
They wanted to change this and increase interactions by making an app which would update more often than the print edition, and make it possible for new content to appear when it was most relevant, instead of holding it until the print issue was published.
Once users have downloaded the new app, they will receive refreshed content around twice a week, although the aim is that this will increase to updates on a daily basis in time.
"Instead of just replicating the print magazine in the app, we've changed the product itself," Vioux explained. "That was a big deal, especially for the editorial team, because they really have to change the way they are working, they way they are producing the articles."
Impact on editorial
For the editorial team, it is now in the position of having to consider which content to share via the app, to keep digital readers hooked, and which to save for print. But "the objective is really not to wait for the print magazine to go out to publish stories in the app," Vioux said.
"We had a lot of discussions around that," she added. "It's not easy for them, because obviously the first reaction is to think we don't want to lose the print subscribers, so we're going to wait to publish the stories. I think it's going to be a bit of balance between these two concerns."
But she added that "most of the big stories will come out as soon as they are ready".
"If you want the reader to look regularly at the app, you really need to get fresh content and exciting content."
The business model
The app operates on a freemium model, Vioux said, giving limited access for no charge, while subscribers will pay £3.99 a month for all content.
In a press release the publisher says it "seeks to bring the successful simplicity of modern subscription products such as Spotify and Netflix to magazine apps".
"It was really new for us," Vioux told Journalism.co.uk. "Usually what you do is follow the same business models as the print version, meaning you can buy a single issue or you can subscribe to get all issues.
"In the app now, you can't buy any single issues. You have to subscribe to get access to everything."
The design of the evo app is another new feature for the publisher, with the main page offering a "long feed of articles" with a spotlight on images. Users can enter stories directly from this feed, and then swipe through horizontally to discover more content.
"The objective for the app was for people to get access to the content," Vioux said, "so we didn't want any barrier between the reader and the content.
"If you open traditional magazine apps, you have to go in the store, then you have to download an issue, then you have to wait for the download, then you're going to have a contents page. So it's quite long.
"The point with this app is you open the app and you go straight to this long feed of articles and you just have to pick one."
The team is also passionate about the articles looking "amazing on all devices", with a responsive design at the heart of the app.
With the app now launched, Dennis is able to test the waters and see how users respond to the new editorial and business models.
"We're all excited to see how it's going to go", she added.
- Future, another magazine publisher, has also experimented in the field of updating apps, such as with live football scores in Football Week, or details on the royal baby
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