We had an interesting discussion in class last night after one student’s presentation of ew.com (the website for Entertainment Weekly – even if you’re not interested in the subject matter, it’s worth visiting just to see what maximum resources can get you). The question: when you’re ew.com and you have over 8 million UVs a month – and 80 million pageviews – with what might as well be infinite content online (seriously, they have archives back to 1990), why would anyone read the magazine?
The answer boiled down to experience. The print product offers a user experience that just can’t be replicated on the web. Conversely, the website does the same: you can’t do in print what you can online. There’s an extremely valuable lesson here. Your website isn’t about reproducing the print product on the web. It’s about taking the value and experience of your brand and leveraging it to create an independent, yet interconnected, online product, using all the resources the web has to offer but not trying to re-create your magazine.
When working on your website, always keep this question in mind: what kind of experience am I offering my readers? (And remember, this doesn’t just mean readers of the print magazine.) Keep this top of mind and, resource limitations aside, you can’t help but create a good product.