Credit: By twicepix on Flickr. Some rights reserved.
When it comes to sharing advice on tablet strategy, Future is certainly well placed to do so. It has reported sales of more than five million digital editions, making $1.2 million in gross revenue a month.

Its digital editions have received much industry recognition, including 'launch of the year' and 'digital publisher of the year' at last year's Association of Online Publishers awards.

And speaking at the Global Editors Network today, editor-in-chief of digital editions at Future Mike Goldsmith shared a series of lessons and pointers on effective tablet strategy, based on his experience.

Below are some of the key takeaways from his presentation, including both his 10 tips and other pointers he shared during the session.

  • Value in being able to move "at own pace"

For Future, it has been able to limit levels of risk when launching new products on digital by producing its own publishing technology, FutureFolio.

Goldsmith said the 'best thing about it is to have scalable interactivity", explaining that this means it can begin with the simplest step of producing a PDF replica of a magazine, and then wait to take the next step into interactivity when the time is right.

"When the numbers prove it we can scale up interactivity," he said, such as by adding in picture galleries or video.

Using FutureFolio the publisher can move "at own pace" and using its "own road-map".

"If no precedent, why jump in?" he added.

  • 'Sweat the small stuff'

In the first of 10 tips Goldsmith shared on "things you should definitely do when moving from print to digital", he called on publishers to make sure they drill down into the details when producing digital editions.

"You need to be well organised," he said, from a technical point of view, as well as ensuring interactive products "scoop up" all the content it possibly can, such as interview audio or behind-the-scenes video.

Digital publishers "need to exploit the access that you have," he said.

  • Involve your teams

Using the example of Total Film, which launched a digital edition in May 2012, Goldsmith highlighted the importance of not only keeping everyone informed on digital developments, but also involved.

With the Total Film team, Future worked with the team to train them on the technical side and "preached agility", he said.

"We need people to come over the top with us," he said. "You will find people in your teams who want to do this."

And interest in getting involved in innovation is not a generational thing, he added. "It's not just the young hipsters," he said, "it's current art editors".

"They see a future where they might not retire on paper, but they might retire on glass."

So let them become "masters of own destiny", he added.

But, said Goldsmith, in a later point on making the digital shift, not every member of that team needs to be able to dive into development.

Although, he added, it "helps if you like a bit of code".

  • Harness the new audience

Goldsmith added that 90 per cent of Future's products are read by people who "are completely new to the brand".

And not only is it new, "it is a global one", he said, adding that 75 per cent of Future's sales are not in the UK.

By looking at analytics publishers can find out where these audiences are, and there may even be "surprises" he added, in terms of highlighting demand, and therefore opportunities, from new places.

Goldsmith said, for example, that the majority of Future's readers are in the US. Armed with this data, Future launched photography title LeNs magazine, which is aimed at the US, as a digital edition earlier this year.

  • Content: About the mix and experience

Goldsmith highlighted that publishers producing digital editions need to think carefully about the content being placed into each edition, with the need to not overfill the product.

"At the moment these are finite products you want people to finish," he said.

The focus should be on the final "mix" he said, adding that the final collection is what counts, not whether the content is produced by yourself or includes content from elsewhere.

Future, for example, launched Football Week in February, which is a collection of content produced by Future's own staff, as well as a live feed from the Press Association.

The "main thing" is making sure each edition features "the right content", Goldsmith added. "I'd worry more about the content mix than where you're going to get it from. It's a buyer's market at the moment."

  • Prepare for some criticism

Goldsmith said he has been told he is "doing it wrong" for the last couple of years, whether in terms of their approach to producing PDF page-turners or interactive products, as well as in the feedback they receive on iTunes.

But this is part of "fact we're growing up in public, figuring this out live", he said.

The answer is to "be agile" as a publisher and product developer. And be prepared to make changes and iterate.

  • Test the product and 'store front'

Following on from the previous point, Goldsmith also stressed the importance of testing. And then again, considering the necessary changes as a result.

This is both about the product itself, and also the way you then share any updates with users. For example, Goldsmith asked, does the app offer push messages to keep the audience informed and up-to-date with the latest changes? Publishers should also be using blogs and social media to keep users in the loop, he said.

And do not forget the importance of your digital edition's presentation on the App Store, he added.

  • Don't overlook design

As well as ensuring that digital editions offer the best collection of content, Goldsmith also called on publishers to "make something beautiful".

"It's not just the words and pictures, it's the actual design of the pages."

"If you can combine good design with good UX, you've got it made," he added.

  • Make the most of the reduced risk of digital

As highlighted earlier, by creating its own technology Future has given itself the freedom to work in a way which enables them to take a step-by-step approach in terms of building up the interactiviy of digital editions, and first effectively test the idea with a PDF page-turner initially.

But for any publisher, working in digital is less "risky" than working on a new print product, Goldsmith said.

With the cost of print there is a "lot of risk involved," he said, "but pixels are free."

In reference to Football Week, as mentioned earlier, Goldsmith said Future "would not launch a football magazine on paper right now," whereas they did so digitally.

He added that "there are costs attributed to digital editions, but they are relatively easy to manage.

"So why not experiment?"

Asked about the 30 per cent cut taken by Apple, Goldsmith urged publishers not to let this stop them from launching on Newsstand.

This is "comparable to print", he said. "I just say suck it up and get on with it. Make something great they want to feature."

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