Posts Tagged ‘paywalls’

Paywalls need usability improvements

A while back I stated that paywalls aren’t bad. But they are downright annoying when it comes to sharing articles. It breaks the whole flow of the sharing economy – I like to tweet links to things that I find of interest, and when the other party can’t view it, it surely gets quite annoying.

Paywalls also start imposing IP inspection. Malaysiakini has done this and you are forced to re-login regularly. Its very annoying as it breaks the flow again and you’re now logging in, then being redirected. So it works like this: click on article, see logged out screen, click on login, then be re-directed to the article. By this time I’ve lost interest in reading.

Newspapers are read by a whole household. I know of offices reading a single newspaper. Heck, in the clubs that I frequent, probably a hundred people read the same newspaper in the sauna. Paywalls should ensure that the household is taken care of. 

What about the modern concept of a household? Father and mother living in the Philippines, daughter working in Malaysia and son working in Dubai? Isn’t this still a household? Paywalls like those for the FT/NYTimes seem to understand this (or are not taking action at the moment), but the Malaysiakini paywall slaps you with the crappy user interface above.

I want online media to succeed but broken paywalls aren’t going to cut it.

On my to-subscribe list is BizKini, which brings a Malaysiakini subscription to a ringgit a day. This is basically the same price you’ll pay for a newspaper in print! Is their reporting that much better that its worth all the pain of the above? I’m not so sure.

So besides a broken login UI, how does one improve sharing?

Paywalls aren’t bad

Color!The New York Times paywall has become less porous. The idea of reading free content is going away and I think this is great for content producers.

I didn’t start paying for the New York Times till sometime last year, and I didn’t start paying for the Financial Times till sometime this year and the reason is simple: their paywalls were rather porous. 20 articles a month with free headlines, the ability to click from social media, etc. 

I love the two publications above and wanted to read it on the go. This is where the subscriptions started making more sense. Believe it or not, I like the physical paper better and do get it at most hotels that I stay at, but for those periods that I don’t, I crave for it. Hence the subscriptions to both.

Monthly/yearly payment options are being tried out by Andrew Sullivan. 

This Week in Startups has the concept of a producer to keep the show alive. This idea isn’t new though – it was probably conceived by Adam Curry on the No Agenda Show

Let’s not forget all sites that carry PayPal tip jar’s.

Why do I think its great for NYTimes/FT/etc. to start charging? Because its clear good quality content cannot be provided for and be created for free.

Once Netizens begin to start paying for content from these major players, it will help them understand that they have to pay for content for smaller/niche players. Call this conditioning. It can only mean that more people will enjoy paying for Byliner or Hacker Monthly or The Magazine.

Of course there’s no perfect login solution today. When I find a link from Twitter on my mobile that goes to Malaysiakini (which I also happily pay for), I see a paywall. I know I can head to The Malaysian Insider to find the same news without login details. I expect authentication technology will improve in the near future.

Overall, this is an exciting space to be in these days. Publishing is changing right in front of our eyes with a long-term view on being sustainable.