Focus On The Users: Technology Lessons From ‘WordCamp For Publishers’

What’s Good For the Tech…

WordCamp for Publishers was a treasure trove of information for the publishing space, both on the marketing and technical side.

In terms of marketing, ZEEN101 learned a lot about the value of subscriptions over ads as a revenue source.

The technical lessons were, well, technical but they had some broader use takeaways, too.

The overall theme seemed to be that adapting both the content and the platform for the specific needs of the user, both front- and back-end, is the future of the digital publishing industry.

Customize, Customize, Customize

The absolute biggest trend for the next three to four years of digital publishing is going to be adaptive content.

The idea of adaptive content is that every user sees a different version of the site or page, tailored specifically to them.

Different headlines, different pictures, different pricing, different messaging: all of this can change to be more appealing to the specific visitor. That’s the nature of adaptive content.

Brilliant Concept, Difficult Execution

The idea is simple and appealing. The reality is full of question marks.

First, you have to gather data on the user and decide what matters, what data triggers which content you display.

Then you have to decide what to change: headlines? ads? pictures? What will most please and influence each type of user?

Finally you have to test it all out for efficacy. A/B testing – trying out two options for each type of user and seeing what gets the best results – will be a necessity.

And of course, the real challenge is how to make that all happen automatically. That’s where the tech side comes in.

A Round Table is Always A Good Idea

At WordCamp itself, ZEEN101’s Jeremy Green took part in a round table discussion on adaptive content and, by the end of it, he’d already started to build the code needed for the next wave.

It was just the first version of what will, no doubt, be an ongoing project. The base idea is a plug-in that changes the text of the subscription call-to-action based on whether the user arrived at the page from LinkedIn or from Facebook.

It might seem like a simple beginning for a complex problem, but it’s definitely a solid foundation for what may well be the defining trend of publishing platforms going forward.

Always More To Learn

While adaptive content was the headliner for the tech side of the WordCamp for Publishers, there was more to learn for the tech-minded.

It was interesting to see what other people are working on, tech-wise. Voice WP presented a plug-in that integrated Amazon’s Alexa into WordPress sites. For example, subscribers could ask Alexa to read them the news from publishers with the plug-in.

And just to round out the curriculum came the reminder that the readers aren’t the only users. It’s important to consider the front-end experience, but you can’t forget the admin side. Managing and simplifying the back-end workflow is crucial too.

Ideas New and Old

We’ve always believed in streamlining workflow for the publishers we serve, but it’s interesting to see how other developers are doing it.

And WordCamp for Publishers was an eye-opener when it came to adaptive content. We’re excited to dive in and can’t wait for what comes next.

Want to learn more from WordCamp? Here are some great videos and a presentation recap page.

Bottom Line

  1. Start thinking about adaptive content (we’ve started building it… get in touch to find out more).
  2. Streamline your workflow

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