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The convergence of magazines and web

Vanity FairI worked in magazine publishing when the “world wide web” (as it was still being called) was becoming the new way to publish. At that time, magazine publishing companies, and some newspaper publishers, invested warily in the new medium because of the fear that the web would kill magazine sales and affect marketing.

Trade magazines that relied on industry advertising (especially those reliant on job ads) suddenly saw their paginations drop as the web offered a more cost effective and trackable way to reach customers.

Short-sighted publishers tried to pretend the web didn’t exist, by not doing much for it. Of the publishers who could see the way the wind was blowing, some tried to create websites that were like magazines, but they just didn’t get that the whole mentality of the technology and the readership was different.

Forward thinkers branched out and created new audiences, new business models and new content strategies. Why am I rambling on about all this? Because we have now come full circle, where websites (or, more correct, digital publishing) are now starting to look like magazines. There’s an excellent presentation on this concept from April 2010 by Jeff McIntyre. More recently, in October 2011, the founder of Flipboard said in a Telegraph article that “websites of the future will look like newspapers and magazines“.

The growth of tablets and smart phones has increased the need for content to be publishable in many shapes and sizes, and we are likely to see a focus this year on websites using HTML5 cross platform cost effectiveness.

I was intrigued when I saw people talking about Pinterest (see picture below) – a pinboard style scrap book of a website that allows people to share all kinds of things of interest. The site is likely to grow a following, but I suspect even this will be a stepping stone on the way to greater things in terms of how we publish and consume digital content.

If you want to see some inspirational website layouts that have a magazine feel, check out 25 Outstanding Magazine Style Website Designs.

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