Last week Aysling Digital Media Solutions, WoodWing's US partner, was able to announce a major new client as Hearst Magazines moved from using K4 to WoodWing's Enterprise system.
"Two years ago we started looking at our opportunities to change the publishing system that our brands use to manage the process of creating their content, initially for print, now for digital editions of the magazines, as well," said Sean Keefe, Director of Publishing Technology Hearst Magazines.
According to Shawn Duffy, Managing Director WoodWing USA, "what WoodWing brings to the table is flexible technology to be able to manage the content and manage the workflow to reach those channels without having to spinoff new silos, resources or people."
"A lot of publishers – I'm not saying Hearst did this – but a lot of publishers spun up all new floors of people (do manage the web)," said Duffy. "You see that in newspapers, you see that in magazines and so forth, they've got new departments to handle the online presence. You don't want to spin up a new silo every time a new publishing channel starts up in the market."
Aysling Digital Media Solutions, WoodWing's US partner, began a pilot project involving Hearst's Food Network Magazine in May 2011 to test the capabilities of the WoodWing Enterprise system. With the success of the pilot project WoodWing's solution will now be implemented across Hearst Magazine's portfolio.
According to Hearst's Keefe, the biggest challenge facing them going forward is "creating highly designed content that will work across multiple devices."
"The one thing currently distinguishing tablets from the web is the fact that brands definitely want full ownership of the content that is on the tablet, and they want full ownership of the design of the content that's on the tablet," Keefe told me late last week.
I asked both Hearst's Sean Keefe, and WoodWing's Shawn Duffy about the whether the new iPad 3 would create some new challenges. Specifically, rumors say that the iPad 3 will sport double the resolution, and hence files size of tablet editions can be expected to grow.
"File size is always a challenge we're working to overcome," WoodWing's Duffy said. "But we're also pleasantly surprised by how well magazines are accepted on the iPad, even with file size into consideration. So I think the market will react positively to all the cool things that are coming out in the iPad 3."
"We're always conscious of file size and we are always try our best to keep the size to a reasonable amount," Hearst's Keefe added. "But that being said, we also weigh the importance of what we are putting into the app, whether it is video, whether it is another kind of enhancement that is going to increase the size, versus the time it's going to take a user to download. We really try hard not to put features in just for the sake of putting features it, we want to make sure we are giving readers quality content not just with the words on the page but with the enhancements, as well."
The tablet edition of Road & Track
I asked Keefe to give me a picture of what Hearst's magazine production looks like.
"For magazine production, for print and digital edition magazine production – I'm differentiated that from out web production – it is fairly centralized. For print we do not have production people at the magazines. The designers are responsible for designing their files and for creating print ready-files," Keefe said.
Hearst still maintains a separate web production team, however. That being said "there is a fair amount of central vision and crossover days, though."
"What WoodWing enables us to do is manage that workflow the same way that we are managing out print workflows," Keefe said. "It's the same editorial and design teams, and in addition to that with some of our titles we are using the WoodWing digital magazine tools to create enhancements to our digital editions."
I asked Keefe about Hearst's publishing philosophy as it concerns tablet editions.
"I would say it is evolving," Keefe told me. "Chris Wilkes who is the VP of our 'App Lab' group, which is responsible for our digital editions, has a say in the decision in whether we are going to do a replica edition of our magazine or do a fully redesigned version of it for tablet, or do a combination of replica with some enhancements."
"It also comes from the brands. A brand like Popular Mechanics obviously it makes a lot of sense for them to have a fully enhanced tablet edition, since that is very much their audience," Hearst's head of publishing technology said.