Wick Communications

Better engaging readers

In Uncategorized on September 7, 2017 at 3:53 pm

I wanted to dedicate today’s Kicker to a couple of relatively new things you can do through TownNews to increase reader engagement.

And why would I want to do that?

You are excused if you roll your eyes at the mention of this year’s metric of the moment. First we chased pageviews, then registered readers and for a while we talked about time spent on the site. Well, this is sort of like that. Smart people now think the most important aspect of your website is how it engages readers. Do they stick with stories, comment on them, share them with their friends? It’s hard to argue with that. The point of journalism is to have an impact on the lives of “consumers” of our “product.”

In order to help readers engage in 2017, we have to be cognizant of aesthetics, particularly on mobile. We’re increasingly visual learners. Fifteen years ago, virtually no one walked around all day, every day with a camera in his or her pocket. Today, everyone has one at all times. That, more than anything, has changed the nature of newsgathering and delivery. Citizen journalists are everywhere and they can publish in powerful ways that the last generation of professional journalists never dreamed possible.

So, these small changes at TN are a big deal. I hope you will read on and experiment with these new tools today. Seriously. Stop what you are doing, go to your asset manager and try to add cover art or a vertical gallery. Takes minutes.



Add cover art

In Online media on September 7, 2017 at 3:49 pm

The most visually pleasing new addition to the TownNews platform, to my mind, is something called “cover art.”

Log in to TN and open an article asset. Do you see cover art there, next to the line with body copy and so on? Click that bad boy.

From there, it’s pretty self-explanatory, but it helps to play with it a bit so you understand what works and how the photo ultimately interacts with text.

First, think about a photo that might work well on a vertical mobile screen. Click change and upload a file just as you would upload any photo to your list of assets. Now, look at design options. The effects are fun. Who doesn’t love the easy movement created by the “Ken Burns effect?” (If you’ve ever seen one of Burns’ documentaries you will instantly recognize the effect.)

Next, play around with the headline backgrounds. I found the background box serves to set the headline apart from a busy photo. But it may not be necessary for you.

This looks particularly awesome on mobile. Play with it then look at it on your phone. I bet you love it. And if you love it, readers will as well.


Add art to the middle

In Online media on September 7, 2017 at 3:43 pm

TownNews product managers talk in terms of “article designing.” It’s the art of enhancing your digital storytelling so that folks make it all the way to the last scroll in hopes that the package stays with them like a good meal.

One of the things that the experts have learned should be obvious to those of us in the print world: If you don’t break up all that gray type, you are apt to lose audience.

So, TownNews has made it ridiculously easy to add art and other storytelling elements in the middle of your story. Simply add art elements as assets, find them as you would any photo or child asset in the system, and then drag and drop where you want it to appear in the story. (For anyone who uploads stories regularly, I’m confident that you can take it from there. TownNews explains it better than I here. But if you need help, please ask me.)

Photos, maps, videos… Think of the possibilities.