By Kathryn Scott, Art Director
Print is dead beautiful.
With rapid advancements in technology and an increasing number of platforms to shout from, digital creators are immersed in a world of shifting landscapes and evolving communication methods. With the launch of the iPad, we have seen exciting growth in the tablet market and a continued discussion around the future of publishing and print.
Having a deep love for the printed publication, with the perfectly calculated grids, the unique page layouts, the typography, the print finishes and the paper stocks in mind, I have been particularly interested in the evolution of the magazine into the digital format.
Historically the printed magazine has provided the perfect playground to explore beautiful typographic, image-based compositions. It evokes a willingness to experiment that has led the printed form to be an exciting medium for many designers to express themselves, create engaging design and enhance the reading experience.
While the printed format comes with its own set of restrictions and nuances, it is free from the evolving constraints of the web page. The printed page isn’t restricted by browser compatibility, font usage, the battle for white space vs. real estate or content housed above the fold, which is so often led by the quest for SEO and usability ratings.
The reader has become the user.
Currently we are seeing a rapid trend for converting the printed magazine into a digital format. This conversion offers little benefit to the reader for receiving the printed version on a digital display, specifically with regards to magazine apps available via the Apple newsstand.
Many of the current examples have poor usability and fail to harness the potential that the tablet experience can offer. We are seeing publications with poorly considered text sizes and lacking the navigational cues a user requires to move through and consume the content. Confusion between interactive and static items is common and the potential for exploring interactive content is often underwhelming or non-existent.
Varying navigational behaviours and unexposed content structure can also lead the user to feel confused and anxious about the journey through a given article or publication. The beauty of print is that at a glance you can gauge the length of the entire publication and thumb through the pages, landing on an article that catches your eye. The level of investment is minimal and often the end is clearly in sight.
Within the constraints of the tablet we must be mindful of the user experience and ensure the reader can confidently and intuitively navigate to all areas of the publication.
The digital magazine has a future.
If we draw inspiration from great examples of print design, and seek valuable learnings in best practice from the online environment, (including the context of the written blog), the digital magazine has the potential to become an innovative method of immersive storytelling.
We need to consider navigation, text and image compositions, single focused spreads vs. scrolling content. We need to consider interaction, animation, motion and static components, bespoke vs. templated solutions. We need to consider the varying orientation options of the tablet and consider dynamic solutions.
We must celebrate the potential of the new technologies and draw on knowledge of the past. We need to accept that the tablet is a unique medium and use this medium to its full advantage.
Mark Hooper raises some interesting thoughts about the ‘death of print’.
Hamish McKenzie talks about why he thinks the future of magazines should look a lot like Spotify.
Aside magazine utilises web-app using html5 iPad.
Gucci Style app beautifully and intuitively takes advantage of the interactive medium.