Friday, June 26, 2009

In Review: OUTBACK Magazine Website

~ Yesterday’s In Review: OUTBACK Magazine entry examined the April/May 2009 issue of OUTBACK, the glossy bi-monthly magazine of the R.M. Williams Publishing company. Today, I thought I’d take a look at the magazine’s website.

The OUTBACK magazine website is well laid out and functional, making it very easy to find your way around the site. Pages load quickly, and most information can be accessed in a few mouse clicks.

Regrettably, that’s about as good as it gets.

There is a great Story archive in 27 searchable categories starting with Adventure and finishing with Utes. However, only the opening paragraphs of each feature article are included on the site. If you want to read the full article you must subscribe to the magazine or purchase the back issue containing the full article you are interested in.

The Shop Online section lets you order a subscription to the magazine: 1 Year (6 issues) $49.00*, or 2 Years (12 issues) $90.00*. (international prices are also listed on the site). You can purchase a small range of merchandise, or order back issues of OUTBACK from this section of the site as well.

Under the Events tab you will find a calendar of events for every Australian state and territory. Or maybe I should say, you won’t find such a listing, because sadly, this feature of the site is not being maintained to its full potential, and is all but useless.

Today, when I checked each of the links to see what events were taking place across the country, only New South Wales (with two events), and Tasmania (one event) were listed. Apparently nothing else of note was happening across the whole of Australia. On the other hand, looking at the April/May 2009 issue of OUTBACK shows 27 events across the country in its Watch Out For… section. Clearly, someone is not doing their job properly.

I think it’s fair to say the site is there solely to promote and help sell the magazine. In and of itself, this is not a bad thing, but in this day and (internet) age, when your website is competing with literally thousands of other online travel related magazines and portals, you have to work a whole lot harder to give visitors a reason to come back. Or do you? I’m thinking out loud, now, you understand.

Maybe it is enough to attract potential subscribers to the physical magazine, and be happy with that – as long as they actually subscribe. After all, if the purpose of the site is to promote the magazine, then it is probably doing a reasonable job. Although, clearly there are areas that need to be addressed, such as the underwhelming Events section, and it wouldn’t hurt to republish selected articles in full – even if they are twelve months old – but beyond that, who knows?

Personally, I believe the best advertising and promotion for the magazine – is the magazine itself. As my review yesterday indicated, it is well written, informative, and worth reading for the insight one can gain into life in the Australian bush. And you can't ask for more than that.

*Unless otherwise noted, all prices quoted are in Australian dollars.

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