The Secret Sauce(s) for Creating an Award-Winning Digital Magazine

In the 2013 FEIEA Grand Prix awards, ConnectMag for FremantleMedia won ‘Best Electronic Magazine’ for the third time – the first time an entry has ever won the same category in the awards three times.

Designed and built by Sequel Group a London-based internal communications agency, with all content provided by FremantleMedia, the magazine is available online, via mobile and has a pdf print version.

We asked Ben Strawbridge, the head designer working on ConnectMag, and Josephine Serieux, FremantleMedia’s corporate communications writer who produces the magazine’s content, to provide their advice on creating an award-winning digital magazine.

 

Over to Ben and Josephine:

Firstly, you need to know your audience – in terms of the content you think will be of most interest to them but also when considering which platform they are most likely to access your magazine on – mobiles, tablets or desktops. By making ConnectMag available across all of these platforms – plus including a print pdf option when viewing it on a desktop – we make sure it can reach as many employees as easily as possible. It is important to note that when Sequel launched a mobile version of the magazine for FremantleMedia, readership levels improved markedly. Always ask yourself: ‘How do people want to read this?’.

Clarity, as well as creativity, is important to consider – as Ben likes to say ‘it’s a magazine, not a puzzle’. Make sure there aren’t too many elements immediately on a page. Instead you can sequence parts so that readers will focus upon the important bits you don’t want them to miss. For example, when the user moves onto the page have a video that appears over the text, meaning they have to either watch it or actively click ‘next’ to move on.

Think about content that could bring the magazine to life and tell stories in different ways, such as video, strong photography and animation, in addition to excellent copy. The December issue of ConnectMag contained a video interview with FremantleMedia’s CEO and Dermot O’Leary, who hosts FremantleMedia’s show The X Factor, and it was hugely popular with the internal readers. Make sure you create content from the heart. Yes, we’ve all got objectives and key messages that we’d like to get across, but your magazine should never feel like propaganda to readers, nor should it be a box-ticking exercise for its creators. Focus on telling stories that are beautifully delivered, with your core ‘message’ as the invisible thread holding it all together.

Consider the intuitive way someone would navigate through the magazine, and introduce prompts as a way to guide the reader. Allow interactivity or animation to occur after a prompt; for example, as the reader moves to a new page any elements which contain links to videos, extra pages etc. could move to attract attention. Animation shouldn’t be added for its own sake however – the type and frequency of it will depend on the publication. Alongside animation it is important to think about the balance of active elements, such as videos against the length of time things take to load. Few readers will want to wait more than a few seconds to access a video, even if the final result is great.

Perhaps the most important point is to measure the response to your magazine in whatever way possible. Measure, measure, measure. The beauty of a digital magazine is that it will provide you with readership statistics, though you should also collect staff feedback and run surveys. Looking at the figures will help you to review and improve your designs and content.

And a final point from Josephine – have a great relationship with your client or agency:

“This sounds obvious, but it’s worth stressing that great magazines are a team effort and everyone needs to be equally passionate about creating a fantastic product.”

 

Thanks for the insight Ben and Josephine.

 

If you have some ideas to share with fellow internal communicators, do get in touch we love to share your ideas and experiences. Contact ciprinside@gmail.com

2 Comments

  1. Great post Katie. I like that part “Perhaps the most important point is to measure the response to your magazine in whatever way possible(…)” the most. Yes, measure. This is a key factor of getting feedback from digital magazines, the (analogue) publishers have to learn more about. I’d like to invite you to read something about it, maybe even contribute http://presspadapp.com/digital-publishing-guide/ cheers!

  2. Thanks for your comment – glad you liked the post! From Sally at Sequel Group.

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