Guest blog: Future's editorial director on making the switch from magazine to tablet


Jim Douglas is Editorial Director at Future

During his excellent Lean Back 2.0 address on tablet publishing at the PPA conference, Economist chief executive Andrew Rashbass touched on Maslow’s
Hierarchy of Needs as a means of illustrating a wider point he was making about the trend toward ‘mass intelligence”.

As basic human requirements of food, water and shelter are met, the argument runs, our needs develop through stages of increasing enlightenment and we
ultimately strive for self-actualisation through self-improvement.

Hence the growing appetite for more edifying information and entertainment; The Sun lays on an opera event and it sells out, The King’s Speech is a smash,
Jason Bourne ousts Rambo etc.

Propelled by tablet adoption we can look forward to a ‘golden age of reading”, Andrew suggests. It’s an appealing argument because we like to think of ourselves as providers of useful content.

But we have to ensure consumers come along on this journey. In deciding how our brands should develop on these platforms, we have to avoid the pitfall of making ‘cool stuff’just because we can.

Every element has to justify inclusion in terms of reader reward.

That might seem an unusual argument to emerge from the home of T3 and most recently Total Film, iPad products bristling with spinning gadgets, videos, interactive layers, lighting effects and scrolling boxes.

But that’s precisely the point. These subjects demand highly-caffeinated creative executions. To feel relevant, these brands need to behave in an appropriately progressive way.

A further challenge is how we reconcile this demand for enhancement with the need to optimise our tablet editions in terms of making them more digestible. In order to keep customers coming back, they need to feel they’ve had the best from their issue.

In this context, brands like The Week and Newsweek can be a terrific fit for the tablet; their characteristics of brevity, simplicity of presentation and relentless product consistency happily translate into their iPad editions.

Our first take on a weekly is Cycling News HD, a digest of road racing. We take previously free-to-consumer web content and repurpose it to feel premium. Signs are very encouraging indeed. So whether your brand’s tablet journey is a hop onto a new platform or an odyssey of interactivity, there’s a lot to be said for getting moving.

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