Websites are either a static series of web pages or dynamic, data-driven pages published to tell your story or to select information based on the viewer’s selections (ie. product catalogs). Websites can be very powerful and are truly considered an essential part of most businesses.
e-Magazines differ from websites in many ways. Their purpose and use, after all, is to share information that is of interest to their viewers and they differ in how viewers experience them, and in how they are expected to be updated.
Business websites are generally meant to be the online face of your company, meeting your desired representation and providing an extension of your brand. The website is where your customers expect to find the information about your products & services. They also expect to find everything needed for them to interact with your business. By their inherent design, website pages are accessed in a seemingly random order, as dictated by the individual viewer’s interests. Your business website is to connect you with current and potential customers and to provide unique competitive value with products & services that solve problems and fulfill needs.
For business e-magazines are meant to engage the reader in a purposeful discovery process. The recognized format delivered in the e-magazine offers inter-related articles supported by rich engaging media. Through this format it is able to present concepts, connect events, promote products, or highlight opportunities of interest to the reader...all through the discerning lens of the company. The idea is to provide articles and content in each issue of the magazine that, in their totality, enhance the reader’s view of the issue-set (industry focused, product oriented, with added value) ensuring that they are prepared to make informed decisions...and ready to act.
HOW PEOPLE USE THEM
The way that people use business websites is in some ways similar to how they use catalogs. They look for the section likely to take them to their area of interest, then they zero in what they want to know about. One reason website visitors have adapted this targeted seek-and-find approach is that business websites can be filled with a seemingly unlimited number of pages that lead to information that addresses other related, but not necessarily relevant issues. Because business websites must provide solutions to many issues, website visitors are mostly okay with the 'sometimes vast' number of web pages – as long as they can easily get what they actually want.
Taking from their ancestor (the printed magazine), the e-magazine can have a table-of-contents that can, with a mouse click, take the reader to ‘choice’ pages that peak their interest with articles, or visually rich expositions. The business use of the e-magazine allows for multiple articles addressing different aspects of the issue-set, presented throughout this issue of the e-magazine. This provides the reader with the engaging experience of going from article to article, in a linear, not likely to happen on a business website.
VIEWER EXPECTATIONS FOR UPDATES
Because business website visitors visit the site when they have a need, they can go weeks, months or even years without re-visiting the site to see what’s new. Some business websites allow visitors to opt-in to be notified of specials and updates. But even then, there is no expectation that the site will be updated on any periodic schedule or that it will have significantly new information. Even when the website is updated, it is very important that everything that was available on the site still be available after the update so that website visitors maintain confidence that they can still have their previous needs served. So, the website will still essentially be the same, but with more stuff and maybe presented in a different or even better way. The result, the business website serves as a resource with which there is little or no viewer relationship. As a result, even though the website provides customer value, a website visitor is probably not looking forward to the website update.
For business e-magazines, there is a built-in expectation on the part of the customer that new issues will be released on a predictable schedule and that these releases will not simply be updates to previous issues, but that they will be filled with ‘brand new goodness’. This increases customer interest and anticipation for e-magazine issues to follow. For many, the e-magazine is seen as a companion and a friend that servers to increase the knowledge and sense of importance and ‘issue focus’ held by the reader.