When Rich Clayton (@monkeymischief | monkeymischief.net) took on the role of Creative Director at Loaded Magazine, it was a publication adrift – in need of both a new content direction to reflect the evolving tastes of its community and a new delivery experience to reflect the multi-touchpoint way in which readers now consume across physical and digital channels. In this March 2014 video recorded at MEX/14 in London, Clayton shares how his background in user-centred design helped chart a new course for Loaded and provides insight into how media might build new models for information consumption.
- Encourage interdisciplinary design. Print and digital designers can learn from each other and create a better overall experience.
- Print is alive, but old business models are dead. Publications which traditionally required readerships in excess of 40,000 are being replaced by niche communities catering to a few thousand highly engaged readers. “I wanted a hellish challenge.”
- Owning and publishing a title is different from the Flipboard-generation of snacking on information consumption. It requires the creation of a style, atmosphere and nurturing a community. Know what you stand for and remain true to it. For instance, The Gentlewoman is an example of a very specific niche (the beauty of fashion) which succeeds by being specialist. Wired also made a good transition to digital by focusing on time sensitive, bite-size content chunks and world class illustrations which become ‘cultural touchpoints’.
- Consider the long-term value of your production. Is it something customers will cherish or is it transient?
- Understand the individual joys of each medium. For instance, the tactility of print, but also the connectivity or interactions of digital. Comixology celebrates the beauty of printed comics, but adds a new dimension through digital by allowing close-ups of content.
- Consider the social context of approval. You are designing not just for your actual customers, but from those who interact with your customers. For instance, is your product something someone can use in front of their partner or on a busy train? By changing the cover image from female to male, Loaded increased on-shelf sales by 47%. “We’ve got Kermit on the cover next month. It’s funny, but it’s also an implicit seal of approval from Disney.”
- Digital adds a wide range of new touchpoints for interacting with a community. This is potentially very costly, but proper planning can create affordable new opportunities for interaction, like allowing users to design their own magazine covers.
Details and tickets for future MEX conferences: pmn.co.uk/mex/.