Tuesday, August 11, 2015

It's all about the app, the app

Traffic on The Orion mobile app the first year

The Orion has done a fantastic job of building a top-notch website over the past couple of years, with traffic a lot of daily papers (student and professional) would love to match (see my last post). Unfortunately, the phone app launched last summer hasn't done as well.

I'm sure there are a dozen reasons for this, but I think the primary problem was that no one on staff was put in charge of its care and feeding. It's not enough to set the RSS feeds for an app and pretend it's the Field of Dreams ("if you build it, they will come").

The editors have hired Tess Nakabayashi, who worked on the paper's PR team last year, to fill that role this fall. It'll be up to her to set a direction for both promoting the app (which means increase downloads and page views) and working with the rest of the staff to make its content is usable and useful.

I don't think it's unrealistic to double the number of downloads this semester from the current 521 to 1000+. Fixing the app presentation for things like video and (especially) photos should help with traffic.

I'm hoping reporters and editors will start thinking about all the paper's content as something that a majority of readers will see first on their phones. That's what the national audience data is showing and what I observe as I walk across campus on OrionDay -- students with heads bent over screens instead of buried in pages of newsprint.

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