Apple Newsstand was first released three years ago, in 2011. One of the first news outlets around the World to publish their own unique newsstand application was The New York Times, I’m not quite sure that the decision they made was a wrong one, and to be fair – it probably had a lot of influence on other news websites.

In less technical terms, newsstand enables news websites (though, journals work just as well) to have their application listed within the newsstand ‘folder’, not function as a standalone app – which, let’s be honest, at this stage of technological growth would be a serious pain in the neck.

But because we already know all this, we’re here to take a look at some methods and techniques of how we can improve our newsstand application, and make it stand out from the crowd.

Most importantly, we want to increase the engagement rate, and the amount of people reading news trough our app – while word of mouth has little to do with this, an exceptional application is sure to capture the attention of many.

The Cover of Your Magazine

I guess one of the wisest decisions that able made regarding newsstand, was that it enabled publishers to submit their apps with a specific cover icon, but whenever an update of the magazine would be published – the cover would change automatically.

You need to get it right, every time. Yes, people are mostly visiting your news because they like to read what you’re writing about, but being able to capture the extra attention trough a well thought of cover can mean all or nothing.

The best way to go about this is probably by looking at past issues of really popular magazines, and seeing whether they prefer to use minimal or more stylish design types for their covers.

Start Publishing Multimedia

Technology is advancing very quickly, and so are the specifications of smartphones like iPhone itself, allowing the phone to withstand much more multimedia types. The types we’re interested in are,

  • music files,
  • widgets,
  • animations,
  • 3D,
  • slideshows

What you want to do is blow the user away with your ability to provide new media formats, frequently and without any extra effort on the users part. That is exactly what’s going to make your newsstand app stand out from the crowd.


Good example? I guess New York Times itself is a good example, they’re mostly publishing text content, with the occasional videos here and there. Get on top of that, and start publishing animated content, 3D concepts and more – make it as realistic as possible.

Content That Engages and Calls for Action

I can’t remember exactly where I read this saying, but it went something along the lines of ‘great content doesn’t require a call for action, for it is so good that people want to pass it forward’ – it could be me myself coming up with it right now, but it’s definitely an analogy to live by, when it comes to working with stuff like news and delivering content to people.

call to action

You’re competing with possibly ten more applications on that newsstand shelf, and it’s hardly about the looks – give the readers content that will make them want to come back, but never cross the line of producing something for the sake of getting return visitors.

Encourage your writers, build new relationships, maximize the exposure potential. It has been know for a long time, happy workers are far more productive than those who’re being treated badly.

Know Your Market Niche

We’ve learned a lot, on how to build a better newsstand app that will surely capture the attention of both current, and potential readers. But, the last thing I want to say is that on top of all that – if we’re able to understand and know our niche that we work within, we’re already half-way on the road to success.

Big publishers publish all that they can publish, mostly for exposure and the momentum they’re able to gain. You can instead focus on building highly niche developed magazines that deliver high quality content to that special bunch, which is not only going to increase the revenue, but also the engagement rate and the overall quality of the site.

I’ve tried serving tens of niches at a time, from within one website – and honestly, half the categories after a while become dead. I still keep them, in case there is ever something scientific to publish.

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