Five questions to ask before you relaunch your magazine website

Not happy with your magazine website? Want a refresh for the new year? Before you rush to your developer and get distracted by the details of design take the time to ask yourself the following five questions – and answer them honestly.

1. Who am I targeting?

Don’t just assume it’s the magazine readership. There’s a whole world out there, and your site has the opportunity to reach older, younger, overseas or less experienced people with similar interests to your magazine. If you are aiming at a different segment you need to adapt the content, tone, tools and proposition.

2. What does my brand stand for?

Be brutally honest with yourself. Better still listen to your customers. You may think your strength is in product reviews when in fact what is valued is the inspiration for new places to visit or the answers to reader’s problems.

3. How is it going to be unique?

Find out all the other sources of information in your subject area. There is no point simply offering a pale imitation of the market leader. Find a segment or a need you can dominate, and do it brilliantly. Divert resources from the “nice to haves” to this single-minded USP.

4.  How will my consumers be able to contribute to the site?

It’s not just about forums. These days consumers like to leave their creative mark – through reviews, galleries, videos, competition entries and comments. Make it easy for them and celebrate their content. Once they have a personal stake in your site, they are less likely to stray.

5.  How will I make money?

Forget advertising – for 2009 at least. Think about other offline areas where you can make money – subscriptions, event tickets, calendars, reader offers, DVDs and promote these relentlessly online, and via email. Work out an e-commerce angle, even if it is just a link to a retailers site. Focus your development time on driving traffic to potentially profitable areas.

I’d love to hear your stories about putting these ideas into practice. Just click on the comment button.

Carolyn Morgan’s consultancy business, Penmaen Media, helps media owners grow their revenues in a digital world. See for more info on how we can grow your business.