Monday, November 26, 2012

Another puzzle piece in place

We received word over Thanksgiving break that The Orion mobile app has been accepted by the Apple App Store. I downloaded it to my phone this morning, and even in its beta phase it looks great.

In the next week or so (fingers crossed), the six content tiles that open on the app's home page will be replaced by custom-designed art that will serve as a table of contents to the five traditional Orion sections (news, features, sports, opinion, arts), three ad links and four links to be determined. Check in with Kacey Gardner or Jenna Valdespino if you have opinions about what those four should be. (I vote for a link to the daily webcast and a bigger-better calendar).

Also available soon, maybe even this fall, will be online coupons from Chico merchants accessible on the Offers page. If users allow the app to know their location, they can see which pizza restaurant is offering what deal and how far they'll have to walk to redeem the virtual coupon. A share button will allow them to send the offer to friends, too. I'm optimistic this two-channel advertising approach (traditional in-place online ads and the virtual coupon service) will help the paper get back on track to profitability.

From a news standpoint, the app puts another digital-first piece in place for The Orion. Instead of having to navigate the website or depend on Twitter or Facebook for campus news and events, students can just open the app on their phone to see what's happening.

That means it'll be even more important to get stories on as soon as they're ready (meaning: as they happen or right afterward) because the app takes an automatic feed from the website. It also means that everyone needs to be thinking about at least one piece of art with every story, even if it's only a headshot. The app screen displays a photo or graphic to the left of every story in the news section, and to be consistently attention-grabbing, the art needs to be in place.

Welcome back!

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