MIX07: Beyond the Reader

by May 3, 2007

The Beyond the Reader: Improving the Online Media Experience panel at MIX07 discussed online reading experiences and how advances in Microsoft technologies have driven increased engagement and improved user experience. The New York Times’ Times Reader (url) and its impact was discussed. Other examples shown can be see in the session video provided by Microsoft.

  • In past 500 years, print was the predominant medium for communication. We are still at early stages of adapting to new mediums.
  • ClearType & high-resolution monitors have helped long from content become more consumable on computer screens.
  • Average page views per user per session are low. Rough 2-5 pages.
  • What makes a great content experience? Great content (of course), delightful user experience, leverage brand, reach users where they are, personalize, monetize, keep people coming back
  • Users can ignore most type of ads - a fact supported by eye-tracking data. Users dislike busy ads and prefer to be in control. Full-page ads are easy to ignore and skip.
  • Ads integrated into content (relevancy is key) are better received.
  • Microsoft has been investing in screen reading for 15 years. WPF was built with reading and rich content experiences in mind: ClearType, Flow Layout, Dynamic Hyphenation, Optimal paragraphs, etc.
  • Times Reader: bring best print & online considerations together. Can be controlled via arrows keys (pagination). Content overflows based on screen size. Font scaling, annotation, saving, and sharing.
  • Reading in narrower columns is a better experience (scientific data back its up).
  • Paginating (using arrow keys) through stories makes a big difference.
  • Engagement is extremely important metric for ad-supported content.
  • When using Times Reader, the audience is more engaged. It better mimics actually reading a newspaper. New York Times subscribers read the paper an average of 48 mins a day (seems high?). Online readers average less then an hour a month (due to higher volumes?). Times Reader audience averages 23 minutes a day (again seems high?). Times Reader users have seven times more page views then Web readers.