Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Thanks to Toronto Life’s The Hype blog for alerting me to this blog post on reading by Margaret Atwood. I think her point about ebooks stands for magazines as well. (Emphasis mine.)

    "I speculate that the availability of e-books is actually increasing reading, as e-books are cheap, portable en mass, and instantly available. I also speculate – based on the two previous blogposts I did on this subject, and the wide range of comments received – that readers, given the choice, would like to have both formats – the e-book to take on travels long or short, and to read to see if the book is one you might want to keep; and the paper book for favourites, gifts, cozy reading at home (in bed and bath, for instance)."

Tuesday, June 29, 2010
In the rush to get your content out to mobile users, one big choice is whether to develop an app – often just for the iPhone, as app development for BlackBerrys [how on earth do you pluralize that?] is complicated – or a mobile-friendly website. In a discussion I had last week with Philippe Girard of Montreal-based consultancy OS Communications, he came out strongly in favour of apps, a position I agree with. Philippe shared with me an article he’d written on the topic for the French market, which I translated for my audience – so if anything doesn’t make sense, please blame the translator and ask questions in the comments. I’d love to hear your experience and opinion as well, either as a mobile user or a developer.

Mobile applications are very popular these days – as they should be, as they offer real advantages both for users and for businesses as compared to websites adapted for mobile.

1. Unparalleled user experience
Native applications are created with the help of development tools designed for the mobile platform. Application designers plan the interface (navigation buttons, text size, layout of menus, sharing content by social media or email, voice detection, etc.) based on defined ergonomic standards before adapting the graphics to the device’s screen as opposed to trying to fit the visuals of a full website into the screen.

Loading time of content and images is a lot quicker with a native application, and the content can be viewed when the user is offline – a clear advantage over the web. Users who have a high-quality experience are much more likely to use the application frequently, and to recommend it to their network.

2. Simplified accessibility
People have a limited capacity to memorize domain names, which is why application stores like Apple’s App Store exist. These virtual stores offer an environment where consumers can find a wide variety of applications that will interest them, all in one place. Consumers can, all through a single account, purchase, download and install the applications of their choice – a process that is much easier and quicker than finding the right mobile URL for each website.

In addition, applications for sale in stores, especially Apple’s, conform to strict quality standards, something that is not necessarily the case on mobile websites.

3. Icons: fabulous memory aids
In a world where simplicity of use prevails, icons are highly recommended. Visually attractive, they are a much more inviting point of reference than the long list of “favourites” in your web browser. Native applications in the App Store include their own individual icon. These icons are powerful memory aids, as they live on the screen of your phone. Can you say this about mobile web applications?

4. Push notifications
In order to keep consumers coming back, native applications are equipped with the ability to send push notifications, a system that sends or displays alerts when new messages or notifications are available, even when the application is inactive. This feature is not offered with mobile web applications.

5. Everyone talks about it
Launching a native application isn’t just trendy – it’s a PR event in itself. What a great way to showcase your business and its products or brands to current and potential clients. It’s a side benefit to take advantage of that isn’t the same for the launch of a mobile site.

And finally, another advantage will soon be added to the list. It will soon be possible to manage ad space in an application using Apple’s new iAd system in order to collect supplementary revenue from it. Another way to make yourself noticed.
Friday, June 11, 2010
It’s somewhat counterintuitive, but in a lot of ways, print content is far more timely than online content. After all, print content has a built-in expiry date, whereas online content can live online for many, many years.

This is a good thing! If you have a site with a solid base of evergreen content, you can devote resources to what you don’t have, rather than creating a different version of the same seasonal story every year.

After all, old content doesn’t always go out of date. And under the right circumstances, it can be resurrected as relevant to readers today. Take this article on Deepak Chopra from The Tyee. It’s originally from 2001, resurrected because Chopra is back in Vancouver and on people’s minds.

Some important points:
• This works because the editors note the original publishing date of the story. Readers have context by which to read it.
• This doesn’t mean you can build a content database and then forget about it. Readers appreciate a mix of the old and the new.

• Showcasing archives content in this manner shows readers that your editors understand their readership and their product. Not only is the story itself interesting, what’s significant to readers is that Deepak Chopra is still in the public consciousness, nine years later – and that this article is still relevant reading.


Friday, June 04, 2010
Thanks to all who joined me and Jaclyn Law for our session at MagNet this afternoon. For all of you (and for anyone who couldn’t make it), we’ve got our slides available for download, as well as the answers to the exercises. Enjoy!
Friday, June 04, 2010
Thanks to Susan Peters for passing on this list from McSweeney’s on great literature titles rewritten for the web. (Like: “7 Awesome Ways Barnyard Animals Are Like Communism.”)

It’s harder than it looks – after all, most novels aren’t written to fit a web title. But let’s give it a try. Here’s mine: “8 Secrets to Repel French Invasions (and Find the Meaning of Life).”
What can you come up with?

About Me
Kat Tancock
Kat Tancock is a freelance writer, editor and digital consultant based in Toronto. She has worked on the sites of major brands including Reader's Digest, Best Health, Canadian Living, Homemakers, Elle Canada and Style at Home and teaches the course Creating Website Editorial at Ryerson University.
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