How to exceed the expectations of both readers and publishers

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November 9, 2020


Expectation management is a lifelong task for some of us. And learning to manage expectations — including your own — requires some practice. In the field of digital publishing, two sets of expectations are always competing: those of readers and publishers.

A few weeks ago, we at unitb consulting were contacted by a global publishing group. It asked for advice on how to set up a reading experience that involved a large number of titles in different languages — all managed in one central system. On top of that, we needed to satisfy the expectations of both readers and publishers. Learn how we exceed both.

Reader and publisher expectations 

Readers and publishers of digital publications expect quite different things from the same digital experiences. Readers want the smoothest end-user experiences, while publishers hope for agile and seamless backend experience.

Readers want to be taken seriously and to easily access relevant information. They value readability no matter what device they use and an empathetic brand. A simple payment model (or even better — free!) and an intuitive UI are necessary. Conversely, publishers expect tech platforms that are easy to maintain and expand in order to quickly roll out new functions and check user engagement. Their editorial team needs to be able to work seamlessly in the backend, and the front end to withstand dynamic access rates. 

Agile methods, cooperation and the modern tech stack 

In digital projects, agile working methods go hand in hand with the axion that everything should be optimized for the reader and their expectations. Agile practices encourage the acquisition of feedback from the very beginning. It’s important to learn from the reader and create an increasingly better product with their input. This cooperation requires a tech stack that is easily modifiable. 

After a careful evaluation of the publishing group’s existing systems — this consists of a self-developed web CMS and an established print CMS — the recommendation we would make was quickly clear: replace the extremely maintenance-intensive and cumbersome web-CMS with Contentful and establish a good connection from Contentful to the print system.

Contentful offered up a series of clear benefits:

  • Extremely short implementation cycles

  • Stable and scalable

  • Renowned customers (including ARD, Tagesspiegel, Condé Nast, and TUI)

  • New content types can be created in minutes

  • Very easy to expand with other microservices

  • Modern RESTful API: Content can be retrieved flexibly

  • Satisfies strict data protection standards (GDPR or DSGVO)

We supplemented Contentful with the unitb Content Layer, which aggregates information from Contentful and other sources (e.g. DPA, weather, and sports), and makes that information available to front ends in a flexible manner. We also took care of the integration of the paywall and decided how content is displayed to which user.

To validate the concept, we developed a proof of concept, where we were able to test approaches to capturing the content with the editorial team to ensure that they could work optimally. Also on the test bench: Contentful's multi-tenancy capabilities. Here we demonstrated how content can be easily assigned to specific playout channels.

Our POC operated smoothly and provided the seamless experiences expected by both readers and publishers. If you’re navigating expectations yourself, please contact us at unitb. You can also learn more about the Contentful partnerships here

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