Tips to Design the Next Sensational Digital Edition

June 18, 2015

There tends to be a visceral reaction to the word “sensational,” and often it’s not a positive one. The word’s connection to “sensationalism” found in media brings the connotation down: stories about talking dogs, unconfirmed accounts, and inflammatory coverage leads some to connect “sensational” to shock and dishonesty.

But in our world, sensational points to something exciting and attractive. It’s sometimes new, and it always achieves a major goal or purpose. So when someone reports back that their new digital edition, feature, or design solves their top priority, we might reply, “That’s sensational!”
Creating a sensational product – such as a digital edition – is not done by accident. While that point might seem obvious, anyone who believes sensational editions are given that badge because of the number of shares, likes, or reposts it receives that person believes that sensational products are based on the luck of the Like. They give the power of success to the choices of the masses.

In reality, sensational digital editions are planned for. They’re strategized. The creators have carefully considered everything from front cover image to parting phrase on the back page, and everything in between. It’s not luck: it’s work, talent, and grit. And we’d like to give you a peek into how some of our clients have been making sensational digital editions with their own special blend of thoughtful consideration and brave experimentation. Out of this exercise comes a few tips on how to create your next sensational digital edition.

1. Welding Productivity

Publication: Welding Productivity
Publisher: TechGen Media Group
Goal: To create a one-stop-shop for those on the shop floor
Sensational features: Mobile-first design, Web-in-Page ads, Cross-promotion

TechGen Media Group creates materials to help sheet-metal fabricators learn more about their trade, industry, equipment, processes, and more. The content is written by industry veterans and journalists, and is disseminated into three publications, including Fabshop Magazine Direct, Shop Floor Lasers, and Welding Productivity. Each publication provides a different focus on various aspects of fabricating topics. Welding Productivity focuses on the welding operation.

The unique challenge facing TechGen Media with each of their publications, including Welding Productivity, is the resources they provide often reaches different levels of employees and departments, which means they needed to access everyone from the HR representatives reading from their computer desktops to the welders on the shop floor looking for an article on a particular process on their iPads. To meet this need, they designed for mobile-first, which also easily translated to desktop-reading. This means when their target audience pulls up the trade publication while on the job, they can easily read and interact with all of the content. Even the ads were designed to appear clearly on mobile devices.

To provide an immersive experience that kept the reader digging into the resource publication, TechGen opted to use a Web-in-Page feature. Normally, when a reader clicks on a link in an advertisement, they are pulled out of the digital edition and deposited on the advertiser’s website. With Web-in-Page, a pop-up window overlays the digital edition. The welder can interact with the website, but when he or she closes the window, the digital edition is back in view. The reader gets all of the information he or she needs without leaving the publication.

TechGen knows that welders reading Welding Productivity might also be interested in information about other areas of fabrication. To meet this need, they advertise the other publications on the very last page of the digital edition. By making the content easy to access anywhere, keeping the reading experience within the publication even with outside links, and providing additional resources to explore, Welding Productivity becomes the one stop shop TechGen was hoping to provide their target audience.

Sensational Tip: Do you know where your audience goes once they click on an ad? Do they come back? If keeping your readers in your digital edition is a top priority, consider the distractions you offer them. While clicking out for more information is a natural part of using the Web, consider how you can shape the experience so they continue to interact with or return to you.

2. Stories of the DaVita Village

Publication: Stories of the DaVita Village
Publisher: DaVita HealthCare Partners, Inc. / DaVita Kidney Care
Goal: To connect their 50,000 employees across the globe, share important information, and save money on communications
Sensational features: “Living” digital edition, built-in tabs, animations

DaVita HealthCare Partners, Inc. is a Fortune 500 company which provides healthcare services to patients throughout the world. DaVita Kidney Care focuses specifically on improving quality of life for patients with Kidney disease. With over 50,000 employees across the globe, DaVita faces the unique challenge of trying to keep each employee inspired at their jobs, connected to the company, and engaged with the company culture.

In the past, DaVita tackled that challenge with a print newsletter, but the costs for printing and mailing across the globe were growing, and they had no way to know if the employees read the publication. Going digital afforded DaVita a couple of benefits, including the ability to see how long and how often employees reviewed the newsletter. It also empowered DaVita to share the stories that keep employees energized by capturing inspiring stories on video. Patients, employees and medical professionals can all share their work and its impact through the emotive power of video media.

DaVita’s newsletter is unique in that it is “living,” or growing over time. This is because as new content is created, it is added to the original publication. If you open the digital edition, you’ll see tabs on the right of the page, included in the design. This allows you to jump to other months’ editions of this year’s newsletter, which provides a cohesive story of DaVita’s work over the year. It also means that you can easily return to past articles or read content you might have missed from the previous edition. No articles can be lost when it’s digital!

As an added benefit of being able to connect a widespread audience with a corporate culture through a visual medium (such as this video here) DaVita saves around $100,000 in print and mailing costs by going digital. DaVita has won multiple awards for their newsletter, including Ragan Award for Best Electronic Magazine, Gold Award for AVA Digital Awards in Best Interactive Communication/e-Newsletter category, Marcom Gold Award for Best e-Magazine, and Hermes Platinum Award for Design & Writing Overall. Their sensational digital edition helps them tell their story, engage their audience worldwide, and save money at the same time. That’s sensational!

Sensational Tip: Do you know what kind of content engages your audience? You have a story to tell, but you can’t force people to listen. DaVita discovered that videos really helped their audience engage with the corporate identity, which helps them stay inspired at their jobs. Take a look at your metrics to see if your audience is trying to tell you what kind of content they prefer. Be free to experiment with new kinds of media and see how your target audience responds.

3. MIA Connections

Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 2.01.09 PM
Publication: MIA Connections
Publisher: HCP / Aboard Publishing
Goal: To encourage travelers to experience the Miami International Airport
Sensational features: App-like design, beautiful cover, mobile-friendly

Miami International Airport already had a native app, but they wanted to use technology to reach travelers in a new way: a way that would encourage them to enjoy the full potential of the airport and the surrounding areas. HCP/Aboard Publishing took a cutting-edge approach to engage travelers while they were en route: they designed a publication highlighting the benefits of the airport, which was best read on mobile devices, but didn’t need to be downloaded like an app.

The solution started with design: the publisher knew most travelers would be accessing the publication while on a layover, and would likely be using their tablets, phones, or laptops. Because of this, they designed the publication to look and feel like it was an app, including some features that mimicked app behavior. For instance, some “buttons” were included in the page design that appeared to present the reader with new content when tapped, but actually just jumped the reader to another page. (See this feature in action here.)

As was recently highlighted in an article on Huffington Post, the magazine cover is crucial to readers deciding to flip through the magazine, regardless of print or digital versions. HCP/Aboard Publishing takes this fact to heart and chooses the most captivating photos of the airport to attract travelers into spending their downtime in the magazine. These simply and beautiful covers help promote the magazine in a setting where readers are distracted and looking around.
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Hear more about all of the design, advertising, and mobile considerations that went into MIA Connections by listening to the editor, Erin Zilis, describe the project in detail through this Folio: webinar.

Sensational Tip: Is your publication tied to a specific location? Consider using iBeacon to set your content apart! With iBeacon, you can send a prompt for readers to open your publication when their digital device comes within the vicinity of your building, your product, or your storefront. This sensational idea is perfect for the travel industry, such as hotels, airports, train stations, and city welcome centers, which have content they’d like digital-savvy travelers to see.

These three editions – as well as three more – were presented at the Associaton Academy held at Nxtbook Media’s headquarters in Lancaster, PA. There we looked at the digital editions in detail, while their designers detailed why each publication was a sensation to their audiences. To learn about the other three editions, please contact your Account Manager, or fill out a form on this site with “Sensational Digital Editions” in the comments field for someone to contact you about the remaining three publications.

Creating a sensational product doesn’t have to be the luck of the draw, or the luck of the group share, like or re-post. With careful consideration, strategy and design, sensational response can be planned for and targeted toward your specific audience.


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