Publishers often offer their readers access to premium content if they are registered or subscribed. Unless they are particularly niche, the chances are they are publishing content that some of their readers are not all that interested in.
These days it’s fairly common to be presented with a personalised dashboard when you log into your favourite websites and apps. For example, Amazon matches products based on your browsing history, Facebook publishes ads that match what it understands about your criteria, and Netflix will personalise its homepage with recommendations based on your viewing history.
Because of this the trend in digital experiences is changing and as these platforms become more widely adopted, users are going to expect this personalised experience more and more.
Thus, publishers should be designing and developing user experiences that allows their audience feel like the website belongs to them.
If your reader is able to select their preferences they will feel more in control. When they log in and land on their home / dashboard page they should be able to immediately see their preferred content. This greatly simplifies the journey and reduces frustration in having to navigate the website.
In its simplest form, allowing readers to select which topics they are interested in and having articles assigned to those topics show as a priority will mean they see fewer irrelevant results and it reduces the effort they need to find that content.
Tracking readers is a great way of understanding what else they may be interested in. For example, by collecting information like which articles they have landed on and how much time they spent there gives you an idea how interested they were.
If those articles match a criteria that is slightly different to the readers selected preferences, then this could appear inside a “You may also be interested in this…” container.
It is also possible to track what they are downloading (ie.. White Papers, Reports etc…) which can be useful in determining how popular certain downloadable items are.
Over time this collection of data, when scrutinised, reveals a much more detailed profile of the reader and enables publishers to implement more specific logic that assists greatly in the user experience and contributes to the happiness of the readers.
There are some situations, such as free news websites, where the publisher does not have a subscription or membership model and profits entirely from advertising. In this case it is more beneficial to expose the reader to as many adverts as possible.
However, this model is to be short lived. Many readers experience problems accessing the content because of the amount of adverts that have to be loaded. This generally causes issues with mobile browsers which most people use to read published content.
Because of this more readers are installing ad-blockers to strip away the ads to get to the content. This works great but the publisher does not profit, leading to the rapid decline of publishing for advertising.
Perhaps it is time for these publishers to re-think their business model and build a community of paying members, or push to adopt a micropayments system. The latter requires the opt-in system of micro-payments to be simple. At present, it seems that readers are unwilling to adopt it as an option.