3 Rules for Mobile Apps for Newspapers

Man touching a smartphone display.
Mobile apps put your newspaper in readers hands they way they want it.

It is not a secret that newspaper readership is trending downward all the time. But somehow, the most prominent papers in the country remain relevant through listening and adapting to what the audience wants, even if it’s unfamiliar territory.

One such territory is mobile devices. If you want to reach readers, you’ve got to offer them something they want in a format they like. With more readers using mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones, mobile apps for newspapers are a necessity. These three tips gleaned from some of America’s most well-known publications are worth noting.

The Wall Street Journal Believes in Familiarity

One of the most respected news sources in America, the Wall Street Journal believes users should have a familiar experience and one that isn’t overly complicated.

In an article by Mickey Alam Khan for Mobile Marketer, Daniel Bernard, chief product officer for the WSJ Digital says, ”This is an approach to responsive design that we call intentional design – design for the user experience in each environment.”

What Bernard refers to is continuity. When users view the Journal on an iPad, it should have the same look and feel as the Journal’s online website, which mimics the appearance of a good old fashioned newspaper.

This approach also promotes brand image. Even though the Wall Street Journal is a household name, marketing is still important.yournextsitedesign

The Denver Post Brings in Evergreen Content and Optimizes it for the Right Device

Tablet, laptop and smartphone displaying the same newspaper image.
Continuity means your brand is recognized wherever it’s seen.

Understanding that its readers use tablets more than any other mobile device, the Denver Post is catering to that readership by creating the best content for the platform. It’s also focusing on evergreen material that’s useful to anyone living or visiting the area.

The Colorado Ski Guide is one such offering, filled with images and comprehensive information about resorts in the area. Garden Colorado and Best Things to Do in Colorado are others. Jeff Sonderman for Poynter explains that the Denver Post app is well versed in images now, and is branching out into more video.

Instead of only giving readers breaking news, the Denver Post keeps itself relevant to anyone who wants information about the area.

The Boston Globe Gives a Lot of Options, but Keeps it Simple and Intuitive

When you’re trying to reach a wide range of readers with varying interests, it’s easy to overload a mobile site with too much detail and flair. The more you offer with mobile apps for newspapers, the simpler it should look and function.

The Globe’s smartphone app gives its audience the choice of dozens of categories. Keeping it simple means presenting those choices in a simple-to-use format. Boston web design firm Upstatement explains that condensing the material and making it scrollable lets users find, read, and even save articles for later.

From the “categories” page, users can shoot off to other parts of the mobile site where they can peruse blogs, buy event tickets and, yes, read the day’s headlines.

News never stops, and people always want to learn more. It’s not the appetite for news that’s changing, but how it’s offered to readers. So print newspapers aren’t necessarily the way of the future. What, then? Adapt.

Adapt to your readers by offering them what they want, not what you think they ought to want. The process isn’t always seamless, but with the right strategy for audience development your readership can grow.

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