If you are planning on starting an online magazine, this checklist of features will help you ensure that it is built on strong foundations. Simple feature omissions at the beginning can lead to time-consuming and costly updates later on.
Feature #1 – Excellent Content Management
As a publisher of an online magazine, you must have complete control over adding, editing and removing your content, preferably without having to know any HTML or other technical skills.
Feature #2 – Enable Multiple Revenue Streams
Like offline magazines, you should ensure that implementing multiple revenue streams is simple, including placing adverts, adding affiliate links, charging for subscriptions and selling stuff via your own online shop.
Feature #3 – Member Database
Every online magazine, whether free or paid subscription, needs to have a way of collecting visitor’s names and other personal details. The database should be searchable, exportable and simple to customise.
Feature #4 – Integrated Payment Processing
Payment processing is often added as an afterthought. It shouldn’t be. It is essential to have the capability of processing credit cards tightly integrated into your website so you can use this feature to charge for subscriptions and product sales and generate income from other services.
Feature #5 – Flexible Functionality
When you start an online magazine, you can never be sure of how it will develop. Therefore, you should start with a website that can easily be upgraded and have new functionality added.
Feature #6 – Search Engine Optimization
A lot is said about search engine optimization, but the truth is very simple. You must have a website that is very easy for the search engines to index. If it is easy to find and you keep adding great quality content, the search engines will include you on their results pages. Make sure that the search engines can index every page, including the pages in the password-protected member areas.
Feature #7 – Multimedia Content
Specialist information websites today should have content in multiple formats, including text, images, audio and video. Even if you don’t plan on using these formats today, make sure your website is enabled to use them in the future.
Feature #8 – Relationship Building Applications
Once you get visitors coming to your online magazine, you need to start building a relationship with them to encourage them to return. Applications that enable relationship-building include email newsletters, forums and comment fields under articles.
Feature #9 – Integrated Login and Password Access
Most publishers who launch an online magazine build the website first and then try to add login and password protection later. This is a recipe for disaster. Password protection, which gives members access to premium content, needs to be seamlessly integrated with the member database and content management service from the outset.
Feature #10 – Management Information
You should be able to easily access all the information about how your website is performing in a single web statistics management report. This should include the number of visitors and pageviews; the time spent on the website and the most popular pages; where your traffic is coming from and much more. Only when you have this information at your fingertips will you be able to understand the needs of your customers.
Feature #11 – Monitoring, Security and Backup
Publishers often overlook the importance of having secure flexible hosting with automated backup. Most websites, including the leaders like eBay and Amazon, have downtime. You need to minimise the risk of failure by regularly backing up all your content.
Feature #12 – Simple Control Panel
As you will see from the above list of features, a good online magazine is made up of lots of different applications. If possible, the service you choose should have all (or most) of the applications run from a single, easy-to-use control panel.