Gather Journal is a recipe-driven magazine that aims to fuel people’s passion for food and the power it has to bring people together. Founded in 2012 by Creative Director Michele Outland and Editor Fiorella Valdesolo, the biannual print publication has developed a strong foodie following, becoming a collector’s item. Since its launch, Gather has worked closely with Studio Mercury to bring the integrity of its print design to the digital space.
In addition to its website, Gather just launched a digital app created with the new Adobe Digital Publishing Solution. Nate and Kirk Mueller (The Brothers Mueller), Art Directors, Lead Developers, and Principals at Studio Mercury, worked closely with Outland and Valdesolo to create the immersive, recipe-based Gather Journal app.
Adobe: Tell us about the Gather Journal app and why you created it.
Outland: The app was created as a companion to the printed edition of Gather Journal. We were hearing from readers that they were so attached to the magazine that they would buy two editions, one to keep and display on the coffee table and another that they could get dirty in the kitchen. The app can now serve as that second version of the magazine that people take with them to the store or cook with in the kitchen. In addition to the magazine content, the app curates content from blog posts on the Gather website, such as travelogues, book reviews or interviews with chefs, making these popular articles available for offline reading.
To further enhance the experience, we have mixtapes by musicians like Twin Shadow or Yeasayer. They’ve created exclusive Gather playlists so people can play music while they’re cooking or have a soundtrack ready to play during a dinner party of dishes made from recipes featured in the app. It just adds another layer to the experience.
Adobe: How does the app fit into the overall content strategy for Gather Journal?
Valdesolo: From a content strategy standpoint, there is the printed edition of Gather Journal, which is published two times each year, and the website, which is always up to date. The app is a bit of a take-off from the website, with up-to-date content and an interactive experience. Gather is also a very social brand. In addition to hosting parties, the brand also has great Facebook and Instagram followings. The objective across all channels is to introduce more and more people to the brand as a whole, because once they see it and experience it, they fall in love.
Adobe: How are you monetizing the content?
Outland: Subscribers to the Gather Journal print edition get access to the app for free. Everyone else can access some content in the app and view up to five recipes. Full access to all of the app content is available for 99 cents per month or $9.99 annually.
Adobe: How did Gather and Mercury work together?
The Brothers Mueller: The first project that Mercury worked on using Adobe Digital Publishing Suite was the Martha Stewart Living app five years ago, so we have a long history with Adobe and digital publishing. Working on that project is where we first met Michele, who was one of the art directors on the project before she started Gather Journal.
We started building the Gather Journal app with Digital Publishing Suite two or three years ago. It was challenging figuring out how to handle recipes in an issue-based workflow. With DPS 2015 and its article-centric workflow, everything fell into place and the creation of the app happened seamlessly.
Adobe: Why did Gather choose to develop an app versus a mobile website?
The Brothers Mueller: The app and the website have almost the same content. The website is formatted for mobile, but replicates the desktop browsing experience. In the app, readers experience the recipes in a different way. The app is very visual and readers can casually swipe through content, while the website is more about getting information quickly.
Also, the app is available on both tablets and mobile devices. Users can access it on their iPhones while shopping, for example, or follow a recipe on their tablets, tapping the ingredients as they go to make them fade away so they can keep track of where they are in the process.
Adobe: What are you using to manage content?
The Brothers Mueller: All of the content is in WordPress, including recipes that are featured online. We wanted to create a solution that takes already existing content and easily converts it to an article. With the new DPS, we can pull recipes directly from our site and convert them to articles for the app without having to recreate the content. The workflow we created lets us make changes, such as editing a title or adding additional photographs, and then bundle everything for publishing to the app.
Adobe: Can you talk about the WordPress plugin you created?
The Brothers Mueller: Digital Publishing Solution Authoring Tools for WordPress is an open source plugin for WordPress that makes it easy to create, manage, and publish HTML content directly into Adobe Digital Publishing Solution. Using the popular WordPress CMS, content creators can streamline the creation of digital content into DPS apps across multiple devices.
Adobe: What is special about the content in the app?
Outland: The app is set up for people to explore recipes. Each issue has a specific theme which drives the content and the recipes. When readers first launch the app, they can explore by courses, topics, curated collections, or published issues of the magazine.
Gather has amazing recipe developers who work hard to come up with original recipes that will inspire every level of home cook, from novice to seasoned. Not to mention some of the best food and prop stylists and photographers in the business.
The print edition of Gather Journal is very design and photography focused and we’ve maintained that emphasis in the app. People can view a collection of desserts or cocktails and easily swipe through full- screen photos until they find just what they want. We hope it is an experience that will keep them coming back for more.
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This article was written for FIPP.com as part of a DPS sponsored content series.
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