Does your digital strategy for 2013 include a tablet app for your publication? Decided on Adobe DPS? Well then, it’s time to plan your first app and folio.

Be strategic – planning before action will win you praise from your readers and your internal audiences.

First impressions matter. The very first time readers download your magazine app their expectations are going to be high. You don’t want to disappoint readers by squandering the first few seconds of their attention after they’ve taken the time to download your app and folio with lousy design and offering the same experience as the printed mag or flip book.

Here are tips to help you get your planning off the ground to a successful app.

Tip #1 – Deliver on Your Goal

You had a goal for your tablet magazine app when you purchased Adobe DPS. Every decision you make going forward, at every stage, should be helping you reach that goal. Keep that goal front and center.

Tip #2 – Must Have an Established Content Strategy

Content is everything, truly. As designers, we see words and stories as content for sure, but so are the visual elements such as typography, icons, photography, illustration, videos, animations. And now is the time to work on your cover strategy and make it stand out. Remember what we said about 1st impressions?

Here are a few content questions you should be discussing:

• How will the content change from the print publication to the tablet app?

• Is there any content that shouldn’t be in the app?

• What should be added?

Tip #3 – Throw Print Pagination Out & Learn How to Plan for Screens

For those who covet using the print pagination layout, time to learn new tricks. The screen pagination is more fluid and flexible, based on depth of content. Lay the app out and get approval from stakeholders. This is a great way to make sure your content and content strategy are lining up with your goals.

(*Note: Text seen in pagination above is placeholder text.)

Tip #4 – Interactivity Always Wins in the Game of Analytics

Adobe DPS gives you excellent functionality to create interactive elements with your content. You’ll also want to embed things such as videos, 360-degree views, slide shows, animated infographics and HTML5 into your app.

You are providing an “experience under glass” for your readers. Interactive content is what separates the truly unique experiences from a basic replica of your publication. Here’s where you get the WOW factor and where your readers will reward you with engagement that you’ll see in your analytics.

Step 1 – what interactive content do you already have that you can use?

Step 2 – what new interactive content needs to be sourced?

Step 3 – what can be created and who will help?

Tip #5 – Navigation Helps Your Readers Find Your Content

Just as a compass can lead you north, so can navigation lead your readers along the content path. How will a reader know there are more screens after the first one? You must design for this and create visual cues that bring your reader along.

We also recommend that you create an icon family for your app that represents your brand and content. Create these during the planning stages, and build on them as the app progresses.

Tip #6– If Monetization Matters, Get Everyone Onboard Early

Is your app advertising or sponsorship driven? You’ll want ads that add to the cache of the app, and that means interactive and exciting ads that get your advertisers noticed.

In-app e-commerce is no longer futuristic; it’s here now. If you have a retail opportunity, bring that into your app. There are a variety of ways within the app and linking to your existing e-commerce website that you can provide opportunities to sell.

Planning your app internally will be a different process than working with an outside agency for your tablet magazine app. We walk our clients through a series of meetings and milestones before we start designing an app, even when there are existing InDesign files. Just in the way that a print magazine is different than a magazine website, so is a tablet magazine different. The truly successful tablet magazine apps out there have figured out how to plan out the app and deliver on a unique experience. Share your planning experiences with us.

Webcast – Wednesday May 29th at 2 pm EST

Have these tips for planning your first publication tablet app left you thirsty for more? Register for this complimentary Carahsoft webcast, “Customizable App Solutions for Your Agency’s Mission” with featured speaker Debbie Bates-Schrott, President of Bates Creative, on Wednesday May 29th at 2pm EST.