Some publishers such as Buzzfeed are making changes to their CMS, ensuring ‘mobile-first’ is the main focus.

For a long time, the industry has seen an increased focus on making sure content is responsive on mobile devices. Majority of publishers have seen an increase in traffic from mobile devices, so there is no surprise that this area has been centre of attention in the industry.

Buzzfeed, for example, receives 80 percent of traffic from mobile devices alone.

With this in mind, Digiday has said that many of the top publishers with the likes of Buzzfeed, Vox Media and The New York Times, have all changed their CMS features to highlight how the content they are producing looks on mobile devices.

‘Mobile-first’ solutions

Vox Media’s CMS, Anthem, now defaults to a preview view of the content on a mobile device, Buzzfeed’s CMS expands as you include more text in the editor (replicating a mobile screen) and The New York Times’ (NYT) CMS, Oak, gives the reader a better idea of what the content looks like on mobile, regarding text and imagery.

Although the CMS change will decrease the number of editors at The Times, they say their “mobile audience wants Times journalism to incorporate visuals even more fully into our work” and therefore their new CMS will help this.

Before Oak, a lot of the articles from NYT were compiled through an automated structure, rather than by editorial staff. The new CMS brings character to the layout as editors can now sequence the content first-hand and provide a more fluid design.

For NYT this approach is easy as they do not rely on Ad-serving technology, same with BuzzFeed and Vox Media. But for other publishers, this design element is more difficult with the inclusion of adverts.

Although the move may not be imminent for some publishers, it still is possible. Some are paying to use content management systems from other publishers, such as the Washington Post, to start their ‘mobile-first’ journey.

Responsive content v audience engagement 

As highlighted by The Times, it seems these publishers are showing others in the industry just how important it is to focus on audience’s engagement with a ‘mobile-first’ approach.

Finding a balanced solution to monetise audiences, while providing an engaging experience, has proved to be difficult for publishers.

“Historically, a lot of content-heavy sites have not provided a good user experience on mobile. It’s actually been somewhat hostile. I think a lot of content providers are realizing they’re probably losing a lot of money by not providing as good a mobile experience as they could,” said Brian Cardarella, CEO of mobile web developer DockYard.

The changes could shake-up the familiar designs on offer from the likes of Facebook and Google and it could open different opportunities for future projects, such as Google’s Progressive Web Apps.

“I think it’s important to be conscious of the opinion or precedents we set through the design [of our CMS],” said Lindsey Maratta, a digital designer at BuzzFeed.

The number of people accessing content on mobile will only continue to rise, in order for publishers to stay ahead in the industry, the ‘mobile-first’ approach needs to be at the centre of attention as they battle for audience dominance, that will only get more difficult.

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