DPS 2015 + Citygram Austin: Migration to new DPS delivers app that keeps pace with high-energy city
“The new DPS helped us create an app that our readers will want to access constantly and it only took two designers 2-3 weeks to build it.”
Chris Perez, Founder and CEO, Left Right Media
For more than two years, Citygram Austin has used the original Adobe DPS to delight local residents and visitors with a digital magazine highlighting the best food, shopping, travel, and events, including art exhibits, festivals, and music performances. Citigram Austin provided a highly interactive, issue-based means to have a monthly connection to readers. It quickly turned into one of Austin’s most popular city guides thanks to its great design and user experience, along with recognition from Apple that resulted in some generous App Store promotion.
Despite its popularity, the app still faced challenges shared by other magazine publishers in the digital space, most notably getting readers to install individual issues after downloading the app shell. The issue-based model also made it difficult for readers to access the magazine’s growing archive of content and for Citygram Austin to easily update their app and keep pace with the exciting things constantly going on in the city.
After learning about the new Adobe Digital Publishing Solution (DPS) and seeing how it could help address these issues, Left Right Media Founder and CEO Chris Perez moved Citygram Austin to the new platform. In addition to publishing Citygram Austin, Left Right Media is also helping other clients extend their reach with digital apps created with DPS.
Adobe: Why did you decide to migrate Citygram Austin to the new DPS?
Perez: When we started Citygram Austin, the natural tendency was to create something that resembled a magazine and publish it on a monthly basis. Over time we saw a need for more frequent updates and timely content, such as weekend itineraries. We believe apps are best when used as a utility—something you depend on to complete a task or to get information. The new DPS fits with what we’re seeing people need and what we want to provide. It lets us give readers easier access to the content they want and publish fresh content as soon as we have something new to share.
Adobe: Tell us about your new app?
Perez: When readers open the app they see the latest issue, along with specific collections focused on stories, events, food, music, and shopping. Our collections are created using articles from past issues, enabling readers to easily find content based on their interests and allowing us to resurface all the great content we’ve invested in over the past few years. Presenting the content in this curated and organized fashion side-by-side with the magazine format will help increase both the app’s total audience and the usage because there’s something for everyone.
Adobe: What challenges does the new DPS help you overcome?
Perez: People were sometimes confused when they downloaded and opened the app and saw multiple issues of the publication. They didn’t grasp the newsstand concept as much as we thought they would. People would download the app shell and wouldn’t get the immediate satisfaction of being able to access content, so they wouldn’t go any further.
With the new DPS, readers open the app and get content right away. Overall, it is a better experience because people feel like they always have something new to look at, from food and shopping to events and music and it gives them a reason to keep coming back to the app.
Adobe: How are you able to continuously deliver fresh content into your app?
Perez: The independence and portability of cards and articles in the new DPS eliminates a lot of road blocks in delivering content that existed with the old folio model. Our team is now able to publish content at will and we plan to move to full HTML5 design very soon so that we can publish to the app from our WordPress website. Before, we had to think about our web content and app content independently. The new HTML integrations will allow us to hook into our website in a manner that will optimize our workflow and augment our web presence.
Adobe: What are the benefits of organizing articles in collections?
Perez: Collections let us highlight things that people might overlook in an issue and give more screen time and presence to different topics. We can also create a fully configurable app and change it as necessary. If we want to highlight music one week, we can easily move that collection to the top.
Perez: We have two full time designers working on the app, as well as a team of freelance writers, photographers, and videographers creating content. Everyone knows that the end game is a digital app, so they’re always thinking creatively about unique ways to tell stories in this format. We can shoot a video of someone plating a dish or pouring a sauce to bring the content to life and make it more appetizing. We work hard to make our features something that people can not only read, but also experience.
Adobe: How long did it take you to move the content over to the new DPS?
Perez: It took two designers two to three weeks to build the app. That included tailoring every article from past issues for the new format, adding features such as a menu bar on each page. Going forward, each article will be designed for the new format on tablet and mobile phone.
Adobe: What are the business-critical metrics you’ll be tracking through the built in analytics in DPS?
Perez: Like with the first version of the app, we want to see what devices people are using to access and read the app. We also want to know if there are differences in how people consume articles based on the new format and how easy it is to access content without waiting for long downloads. We expect to see higher engagement now that readers have immediate access to content, as well as more repeat visits to enjoy fresh content as it goes live.
In addition to the analytics, we’ve also received qualitative feedback from readers familiar with Citygram Austin who say that they’re seeing things they never saw before. The new format lets us organize differently and bring content forward in new ways. Overall, people have said that it looks beautiful, is easy to use, and loads fast.
Adobe: How is Citygram Austin capitalizing on the market trends you are seeing?
Perez: We’ve gotten a lot of traction in Austin by creating something that didn’t exist before—a utility app that offers relevant lifestyle and entertainment content for a specific location. We’ve found that many younger audiences prefer utility apps that give them access to news and information on the go. The app store is a key way that readers discover our app and learn about the content we offer.
Adobe: How has what you’ve learned creating Citygram Austin influenced your agency work?
Perez: Throughout the process of creating Citygram Austin we’ve learned a lot about digital strategy and digital content. Realizing that DPS is a platform for so much more than magazine apps, we are applying our design solutions across a variety of markets including sales enablement tools, event guide apps, and media press kits.
So many brands are trying to keep pace with what can be done in digital and how to get content in front of their target audiences. But it is still a new space and everyone is learning as they go. Fundamentally, it is about combining great content and design to deliver a desired message.
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