Leaping to digital-only content

Jennifer Hamrick
Monday 21 March 2016

In an ever increasing digital era of computers, smartphones and tablets, it’s no wonder that content that was once traditionally printed is now migrating to the internet.

You may have recently read that The Independent has become the UK’s first newspaper to go digital-only, drastically reconceptualising what it means to be a newspaper today. While The Independent has different challenges to face as a for-profit business than the University of St Andrews, their strategy as they leap from paper to online is reminiscent in many ways of our current digital prospectus project, which aims to put all information about undergraduate and postgraduate taught courses online in one place.

Newspaper sitting next to computer.

Ultimately, the success of The Independent’s move to online-only rests on it developing a variety of formats, at a variety of price points all the while utilising data and analytics to ensure its advertisers can deliver results back into their businesses. – Jessica Goodfellow, The Drum

Although The Independent’s strategy is to increase viewership for advertisements, many of their techniques can be used in our own strategy to garner more attention for our postgraduate taught courses. Broken down, Goodfellow is saying that online content needs to:

  • be available for a variety of formats.
  • offer unique selling points.
  • utilise data analytics.

Looking at our own digital prospectus project, our strategy has incorporated these three success points: we have designed web pages which can be reformatted to fit on a variety of screen sizes and applications; we have created sections such as ‘Course highlights’ to bring out the unique selling points of each PGT course; and we will soon be using data analytics to monitor user retention for our pages once our data analyst, Maria, joins us at the beginning of March.

A theme running throughout all [media buyers’] observations is that the publisher will need to undergo significant digital redesigns, and overhaul what it can offer to advertisers in terms of video, native and display content in order to act competitively in this space. – The Drum

What The Drum is saying is that we need to treat digital and print content differently; what works well on paper does not necessarily work well digitally. In addition, digital communication allows us to incorporate multimedia into our work, including video, image and audio content, and we need to take advantage of these allowances in order to stand out from the crowd.

While the digital prospectus is designed for a clean look which minimises distractions in order to highlight key information, we are able to add some multimedia content such as videos or image galleries. But one area in which we can really maximise digital multimedia allowances is University news. Our long form content pieces, for example, promote news stories with visual and audio content using design features specifically built for online use; these are content pieces which are designed to be digital-only.

In conclusion, content that used to be available only in print is migrating into digital-only mediums. The University of St Andrews website will be incorporating more and more content that will need to be repurposed for the web.

It’s a very competitive market out there and you need to get your content out to as many people as possible. – Liam Mullins, the7stars independent media agency

By making our content not only available online, but designed specifically for online use, we will gain more traffic and drive user engagement with our content pieces. With time and data analytics, we should be able to optimise our digital-only content.

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