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Bad UX is Killing Newsstand Apps on iOS

Marko Karppinen, who advises magazines on their digital strategy, has an interesting tear down of why he’s telling publishers to not use iOS’s Newsstand feature in iOS 7. While he gives several reasons, he calls out one in particular as the motivating factor

Once downloaded, Newsstand publications are hidden away within the Newstand app.

In iOS 7, the final straw for Newsstand — Marko Karppinen

The essence of the problem is this: In iOS 6 and earlier, the Newsstand app actually showed the covers of all the magazines you had:

iOS 6 Newsstand

Subtle, but useful. In contrast, iOS7 gives you an awful generic app icon (well, it looks nice in an Art Deco sort of way, I guess)

IMG_0026 2

But wait, it has a (1) badge… That would be useful except for the fact that it doesn’t work. For example, I’ve had the latest issue of The Economist downloaded for a week, read it multiple times and the new issue comes out tomorrow morning. Something tells me that if you have more than one subscription, that badge number quickly becomes useless.

As Marko said, the apps are hidden. And that’s a death knell for any new app in iOS. I don’t have numbers, but I would be surprised if this redesign has done anything but drive usage down for these apps. That’s especially bad when you consider that they’re all subscription-based models, so it isn’t just good enough to get the user to buy the app once.

Lessons Learned

  • Consider the UX that leads to your app, it’s the first problem your users will encounter
  • Aesthetics rarely are the show stopper, it’s what the aesthetics reveal or hide
  • If your users subscribe to your service, anything that lowers engagement below what is natural is your enemy