A few days ago I noticed that Tastee, a leading Jamaican patty company (ok they do sell more than patties, but I’m sure you can identify), released the 2nd edition of their online e-zine / magazine. After checking it out (and it was nicely done I might add), I began to think about the present state and the future of online magazines. E-zines as they tend to call them, are magazines in an electronic format that can be read and interacted with online.
My question was, are we expecting to see more companies, individuals, brands, non-profits trying to launch online magazines, or will that desire change soon? Is this a trend or will it soon end?
I’m not sure just yet. I think this will go on for a while. People love magazines, and the whole magazine format and the idea of having one. I know this whole online magazine idea has been going on for ages, first in PDFs, now re-imaged in the new issuu format (popularized in Jamaica by Your Money e-Zine). Personally speaking, the magazines are really attractive. They can be very engaging and can definitely give your brand a boost, especially since everybody’s doing it. So why not you?! But All that glitter’s not gold. Please look at both sides before you dive in.
Here’s my take, pros and cons on the issue.
- Colorful: A marketer’s dream. These magazine are quite attractive (if properly designed) and can be really engaging.
- Fancy features: Can include a lot of features, like hyperlinking, page turning, and other things that are not as popular with PDFs.
- Good if you want to publish in pre-defined time frames like every month, quarterly etc, or just a one off issue.
- Probably good for tablets: I don’t have one, so I couldn’t tell, but I’m sure these should look good on those devices. Probably that’s where they shine.
- Engagement: I think these magazines do a good job of getting and holding attention for a good period of time in one sitting.
Cons (Will It Soon End?)
- Not so easy to navigate – Honestly, I spend so much time trying to figure out the controls on these magazines most of the times that I end up not reading them (issuu ezines included). I think PDF may be better for navigation. Sometimes I want to click, but it zooms in, or I want to scroll the magazine, but it’s scrolling the whole page, and the issues go on and on and on. Then I get frustrated and leave.
- Difficult to read – try reading a full page on these things on your laptop and then you will understand what I am saying. Good luck with that. I find that they are not always the best in readability, or I may just be biased to html.
- Previous issues? Forget that! – Want to engage your market while you work on the next issue, good luck with getting them to go through old issues. I’ve seen your money e-zine link to previous months and send it out to maintain interest, but the truth is, I think for magazines once an issue is gone people are looking to the next one, not to go back through past issues (unless they’re looking for something specific).
- Longer to produce than regular web content – These things take serious teamwork. Designer, writer, photographer and a whole team for each issue. For the small company it may be exciting at first, but if longevity is your aim, you might find it quicker to publish a blog post.
- Issues with loading? – I’ve had that. You’re skipping through the magazine and oops, one page isn’t loaded. What do you do? Skip that page and move on.
For now, I would call this a trend. I definitely see more companies wanting to get on this wagon. If it has colors, branding, and publicity involved, you’re going to have companies that wont be able to resist it. But I’m more cautious about these things as I know the toll it can take on any team to maintain them, on schedule. I’ve even seen Your Money e-Zine with late issues, so you know, that keeping up is not going to be an easy feat.
Never the less, don’t be afraid. Join the trend.