Five tips for news organizations that want to go mobile

by Maite Fernandez
Oct 30, 2018 in Digital Journalism

To reach readers and viewers, your content has to find them wherever they are.

And wherever they are, from Africa to the U.S., they are increasingly likely to be glued to a mobile device.

News organizations going mobile today are entering an already highly populated and competitive market. What’s more, mobile users have very limited attention spans, said Joey Marburger, mobile design director at The Washington Post.

"If the computer is the bicycle for the mind, mobile is a scooter," Marburger said during a session on how news organizations can leverage mobile technologies at the Online News Association’s 2012 conference in San Francisco.

Marburger shared his tips for overcoming short attention spans and the crowded market to launch successful mobile products. IJNet attended and had these takeaways:

Simplify, simplify, simplify. That Apple mantra (“simplify, simplify, simplify”) should be applied to mobile as well, Marburger said. Apps or mobile sites should be as simple as possible for people to use, or they'll turn elsewhere.

Focus on what you can do best. An app that tries to do too many things might be doomed to fail, while apps that do just one thing very well are usually successful. Foursquare is effective because it does one thing well: allows people to check in when they visit different locations, Marburger said.

Don’t trust research blindly. Knowing how to look beyond research is crucial. “You’re the best research you have. Build something that you would use,” he said.

Try to think differently. “We don’t question the ideas we inherit,” Marburger said. Too often, people just try to copy what’s already out there. This was the case with news apps, most of which were pretty straightforward in their design. That is, until Flipboard came along, and showed that mobile news could be presented in a different and more visually appealing way.

Fulfill a real need. Ultimately, the best way to build an app or mobile website is by fulfilling a need the user has, but doesn't realize he has, Marburger said.

You can find useful resources and tools for mobile news here and here.

Photo CC-licensed, courtesy of masochismtango in Flickr.