As an app magazine designer, I’m always looking for new inspirations and challenges as regards the tablet magazine market. High-quality design and usability are things I focus on most. So I took a closer look at this year’s winner of the Digital Magazine Awards. Learning from the best is always good, right? The Wired Magazine’s UK issue won the title "Digital Magazine of the Year 2014".
But before going into detail about the Wired Magazine, I want to talk about another publication that had also made it into the DMA’s final round: the TOUCH Magazine. This magazine comes out in two languages (English and Spanish) and had a special issue titled "1900’s special edition". What was considered sexy around 1900 (okay, it is a man’s magazine) and what else happened around that time? This is presented in a beautiful and playful way with many animations and interactive features that really look cool. Beautiful to look at. But: Too much of a good thing is not good. As a designer, I’m of course very critical and I have to point out that the animations put the content aside and the reader might be overwhelmed by all the buttons to tap. I have asked some friends to test the magazine and give me feedback.
Their opinions: "You have to be extraordinarily fit using apps for reading this magazine." "It is very beautiful, but exhausting." "I did not want to continue reading after two pages." Especially the continuously (!) flashing navigation buttons destroy the beauty of the app, what I find really sad. To make matters worse, the reading flow is not logical and quite disturbing. I have to swipe to the right, then upwards, then downwards, simply confusing. The TOUCH Magazine shows that too much clutter on the screen can really put readers off. This cannot be something the publisher aims for.
The British Wired Magazine offers a much better experience. This app has a fantastic impressive layout, a logical reading flow, perfectly used animations, useful interactive features and top stories. Also the typography is executed very wisely, the font scheme is perfectly adapted for a pleasant reading experience on a tablet. Moreover, there are highly interactive app advertisements that the user can really engage with nicely. As a designer, I try my hardest to find any flaws – and remain unsuccessful. This is how a tablet magazine should be!
The Wired Magazine (UK) is a positive example for the content being in the focus and interactive features and animations sublty supporting the content as well as the reading flow.
Once again, the British have proved that they are at the top of their game when it comes to media: Using brainpower, top-notch design and a full understanding of how app magazines work. So, let’s hope this understanding also gets over to the rest of Europe and our publishing houses stop lamenting and start earning money with really (!) good app magazines.
By the way: The Wired Magazine is also published as an app for the German speaking market. Unfortunately, this app is just a copy of the print magazine with the exact same layout so that reading it on a tablet becomes very challenging. Slightly pixelated copy, always having to zoom in and out and a complete lack of tablet usability make the German Wired Magazine a typical App Store shelf wamer, in my opinion. I’m happy to buy the print issue, but the app? No, thanks.
If you want to publish on a tablet too, simply send me an email. I’m looking forward to helping you.