Behind Adobe, Fast Company’s quest for a better mobile experience

At the start of the project, some 12 months ago, “we were sitting down with Fast Company when we had this existential moment, which was, looking at magazine apps and saying, hey, is this really a good mobile experience? Is it something we love? And the answer was, once you get into the content it’s pretty nice, but it is not something we will open up every day or every other day on our phones, certainly not. So we were like, what are we doing here?!”

This is Nick Bogaty, senior director and head of digital publishing at Adobe, talking, in conversation with FIPP’s Cobus Heyl as part of Adobe’s sponsored content series on 

The series, including a free webinar to users on 1 April 2015 (register for it here), focuses on the launch of Adobe and Fast Company’s new app at the end of February this year, which “re-imagines the mobile experience”.  The new Adobe mobile app software will be available to all publishers in mid-2015.

This article is the last of three in the series:

  • Read the first article, “Re-imagining mobile: not print, not the web, but in between” here
  • Read the second article, “Why ‘mobile first’ equates to ‘content first’, and what it means” here

After having their “existential moment,” the Adobe and Fast Company team took a step back, deciding, “Hey, let’s just build a mobile experience we would like. Let’s make a mobile experience for Fast Company that we would use often.”

According to Bogaty it “was a big moment to get to. From there you start to figure out the basic fundamentals of what you want to build.”

There were three tenets to the strategy:  

  • A modern app experience
  • Continuous (i.e. 24/7 rather than cyclical) mobile publishing
  • Developing enterprise administration tools

Step one was to imagine “a modern app experience that felt like a mobile experience and not like a print or a web experience.” This, in part, meant stripping down the thinking from a brand (i.e. publication or issue-level) to the smallest unit of engagement (i.e. articles, videos, images and the like). “That’s the way for publishers to deliver content [to mobile], in a way that people can consume quickly and continuously. That’s really what we wanted to explore in the Fast Company prototype.” This led to the idea of “article-based” publishing (which includes other media assets such as images or video), which simply means “continuous publishing, delivering on the ‘article’ level first” rather than brand level first.

Step two was to imagine “production tools to allow our customers to continuously publish articles to multiple screens without killing their production staff.” 

Step three was to imagine “how to give our customers enterprise level administration tools, so that when they create this content, they can engage with freelancers or agencies or ad work flows, all of this stuff.” Continuous publishing requires multiple resource inputs, so the team thought about how “to create a really flexible permission system to allow for all of those people to participate, to keep up with that kind of production.”

The outcome was explained in the Adobe blog post announcing the launch of the new Fast Company app:

A content-first experience

The gives readers direct access to content as soon as the app is installed, removing requirements like storefronts, issue downloads and immediate payment requirements that have inhibited engagement in the past.

A break from the print replica model

The app is a mobile-first experience that breaks from the print-replica model and offers readers a browsing, reading, and viewing experience that is delivered seamlessly across multiple screens through responsive layout. Fast Company also integrated offline reading so that when readers find themselves without Internet access—on the train, the subway, on a plane—they can still access the content.

Continuous updates

At the heart of the offering is the ability to give readers fresh content that creates a reason for frequent visits and drives deeper engagement. Mobile app publishing is no longer tied to print schedules and instead content updates can be made at a cadence that makes sense for today’s mobile world.

Articles, not issues, at its heart

Fast Company adds 40-50 articles to its various properties each day. They can now push those articles as bite-sized pieces of content to their app throughout the day. With article-based publishing, the app stays up-to-date and relevant with its readers. 

Subscription options

While single issue and subscription purchases will continue to be available in the future, a new, all-access payment model will become available with the new product in mid-2015.

The initial the reaction to the new Fast Company app was encouraging, according to Bogaty. 

“I’m obsessively reading the reviews on iTunes and most are from Fast Company readers in one form or another. There’s a couple of those reviews that said I’m a print subscriber, who didn’t realise what great web content you had until I got this app. And there are some reviews of occasional web users, who praised the app as a much better, continuous experience. When I see this anecdotal feedback, it really makes me optimistic that we found good middle ground, serving the overall Fast Company brand.”

Find out more

Adobe’s free webinar to FIPP users on 1 April 2015, at 3pm CET (7am PST and 2pm GMT). The webinar will be co-presented by Kirsty Duncan, senior product manager for digital publishing at Adobe, Anne Marie O’Keefe, director of consumer marketing at Fast Company, and Morgan Clendaniel, founding editor of Co.Exist at Fast Company. Register for the webinar here. It’s free, and it’s interactive. Join to get an in-depth look into the re-imagined mobile publishing experience.

Adobe will be at FIPP, VDZ and eMediaSF’s Digital Innovators’ Summit (DIS) in Berlin on 23-24 March 2015, where Mitch Green, director of product management for digital publishing at Adobe will, for the first time, do a live public unveiling of and in-depth look into the new solution. The session will also see one or two new announcements from Adobe, promised Bogaty. Register for the DIS here.

• Download the new Fast Company app (iOS devices at this stage) here.

About Adobe’s sponsored content series on

Nicky Bogaty, senior director and head of digital publishing at Adobe, spoke to FIPP’s chief content officer and marketing manager, Cobus Heyl via Skype as part of Adobe’s sponsored content series on This is the first of a three articles from the conversation – the next one answers the question why Adobe talks about “content first”, and the third one “what’s behind Adobe’s quest for a better mobile experience.” Other than this and the webinar, the sponsored content series included news of the launch of the new Adobe app, and the announcement of the webinar.

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