February 15, 2013
The Wall Street Journal, a crown jewel in Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, has launched a mobile Web site for the iPhone that continues its 360-degree embrace of digital media as the new business model for publishing.
Starting this week, subscribers to WSJ’s digital package can access business news, analysis, insights, images and videos on WSJ.com on their iPhone, with a look and feel that mirrors the publication’s highly popular mobile application. However, this is not responsive design as you know it.
“This is an approach to responsive design that we call intentional design – design for the user experience in each environment,” said Daniel Bernard, chief product officer of The Wall Street Journal Digital, New York.
“We believe the Wall Street Journal should be available everywhere, whether it be an app, mobile Web site, tablet app or Web site on a computer,” he said. “And the key is designing for the user experience in that environment.”
The mobile site, accessed at wsj.com – which takes visitors to m.wsj.com – bears the stamp of the Journal online: color scheme, fonts, focus on hard business news and, of course, the trenchant opinion and analysis. Links to the latest headlines and the most popular articles sit below the Journal logo.
Daniel Bernard is chief product officer of The Wall Street Journal Digital
Navigation too is designed to be intuitive – a lesson learned from the Journal’s apps for mobile phones and tablets across platforms such as the iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows and BlackBerry.
Tapping on the navigation button to the left of the publication’s logo leads to a dropdown menu with sections for the latest headlines, world, U.S., New York and business. Even more section links appear at the bottom of each page.
WSJ will serve ads on its mobile site using DoubleClick, which is the same ad server it uses for its PC Web site. The goal is to let advertisers make cross-channel buys for banner ads across article and section pages, as well as rich media executions.
Financial services firm Northwestern Mutual is one of the early advertisers on the mobile site, inviting readers to click on a banner tile to find their financial security score.
All development was done in-house.
“It feels very appy,” Mr. Bernard said of the entire mobile site experience. “This is our first iteration and we will continue to evolve.
“We support rich media and we are willing to work with advertisers to create the right solutions they need,” he said.
Overall, the site looks simple. But that is intentional. WSJ resisted the urge to pour the entire PC site onto mobile, keeping in mind user needs when they are on smartphones and tablets.
The formula behind the site’s architecture was three-fold: maintaining the editorial hierarchy, offering the right advertising experience and appropriate asset delivery to avoid overload and site usability issues.
“This is our first step to being fully responsive,” Mr. Bernard said. “Shortly, we’ll launch a site for Android devices.”
The logic for the Android mobile site will be the same as the iPhone’s. The idea is to deliver to an iPhone user the iPhone HTML5 file when he or she pulls up WSJ.com.
WSJ has apps for the iPhone, BlackBerry and Android smartphones, and for the iPad, Windows and Android-based Kindle Fire tablets. The publication serves up the PC Web site on tablet, although that may change in the future.
The WSJ mobile site is subscription-enabled, maintaining the same ration of free versus locked articles as online.
A monthly subscription is $21.99 for digital access to the Wall Street Journal Digital Network properties such as WSJ.com, MarketWatch.com, Barrons.com, Allthingsd.com and SmartMoney.com. Combined, these titles boast 1.3 million paid digital subscribers.
The Journal does not break out mobile subscriber numbers for public consumption.
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Part of News Corp.’s Dow Jones & Co., WSJ was one of the pioneers in publishing to adopt a paid subscription model online.
Not only is the print Journal the largest newspaper nationwide, but the digital version also leads in online subscriptions, rivaled perhaps by The New York Times.
Now, as consumers migrate their media and content consumption habits to smartphones and tablets, publications are forced to switch strategy.
While apps get the buzz, many publishers are realizing that the mobile Web is the reliable workhorse for news delivery outside of the platform-specific app world of walled gardens.
Being in the vanguard buys WSJ lead time. Its first BlackBerry mobile experience debuted nearly six years ago – ahead of the iPhone’s launch.
The company has a term for its digital embrace: WSJ Everywhere.
“This rounds out our user offering,” Mr. Bernard said of the mobile site. “They can leverage apps, mobile Web, tablets and the regular Web and we’re going to keep building and innovating.
“We’re going where the users are,” he said.