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Article-Based: The New App Design Format

As some of you might know, I grew up in a family of publishers. That's why I have a special affinity for magazine design. In addition to media design for print magazines, I have also been taking care of the digital publishing for my publishing clients for many years. This is how I contribute to digitization in the publishing industry.

I have been working with the Belgian software company Twixl for many years, before that with the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite. From my personal experience I can say that Twixl provides the best solution for digital publishing.

The general technological progress also affects digitization for publishers of course. This is why all apps created with Twixl have been converted from a formerly magazine-based approach to an article-based approach. You can find out what that means in this article.

app design


May it be magazines, brochures or catalogues - they all have one thing in common: they are created in Indesign. The creative design process in publishing houses mainly takes place in Indesign.

As part of my App Design Service, I work with my Belgian software partner Twixl that offers the perfect interface between Indesign and the world of apps. So I create both print and app designs in Indesign, enrich them with interactive and multimedia elements (also in Indesign) and then manage and structure all content assets in the Twixl Distribution Platform in the course of my software license.

This ensures a smooth workflow from print to digital which is in the best interest of my customers. The combination of Indesign and Twixl is the ideal option to make content available on various platforms (print, app, web, mobile) - also from a financial perspective.

„One format to publish to print, to web and to mobile, adapting the layout per medium and being able to offer a captive reading experience. You need to adapt to the medium and to the user.“ Twixl Media


The most important new feature: The magazine is no longer a self-contained unit, but is offered as a collection of all articles within that magazine. In the past, you had to download the entire magazine to read the articles. Now you can consume individual articles separately. The articles are downloaded one by one, which takes up less storage space and speeds up the download process significantly.

This allows for a maximum of flexibility, the content can be structured as desired:

  • by topics

  • by reader groups

  • by time periods

  • by issue number

  • by whatever you wish

For my app customers, I implemented a dual structuring scheme: The division according to issue number is still there for everyone who likes to read through a magazine in the classic way. In addition, selected topics can be found as separate articles in the corresponding topic tiles. This allows the user to conveniently decide whether to read magazine issue X or whether he/she prefers to read individual articles on the subject of Y that are stored in tile Y.

app design

app design

app design

app design

app design

app design


In addition to the modular, flexible structure, the new app design offers other great advantages for publishers and app providers alike:

  • The content can be managed and updated on article level. Individual content parts can be updated independently of each other - and in real time!

  • Each tile can trigger a paywall or login wall and only give a specific group of users access to certain articles.

  • Push notifications can now also address certain topic tiles directly and not just the app as a whole. Push notifications are a great way to stay in touch with the readers!

  • The integrated browser client: All app contents can also be made available in a browser client (= on a domain on the Internet).

  • Different design options for columns and tiles for tablets, phones and the browser client for an optimal user experience (UX / UI).

  • Higher degree of customization in terms of design. For example, custom fonts can also be used in the app. As a corporate designer, I’m of course particularly pleased about this.


Digital publishing, like print publishing, costs money. It is therefore important to think about monetization options for apps from the very start. As described in this blog article, it is, for example, a mistake to include paid print ads one-to-one in the app without asking the advertisers to pay separately for that service.

A new, additional monetization option for article-based apps is possible by using advertising tiles, as you can see here in the example of my customer Blickpunkt LKW & BUS:

advertising banner in app design

advertising banner in app design

In addition, there is of course still the option to pay for content via in-app purchases.

in-app-purchase app design

If you want to find out more about advertisements in digital magazines, I highly recommend reading this blog article.

In addition to advertising tiles and in-app purchases, paywalls or login walls can be implemented for individual topic tiles. In other words: A specific topic X (tile X) is only accessible when paid - or alternatively via login for specific users.

For example, this was implemented for my client connecting comPETence for PETnology / tecPET GmbH. The magazine is published three times a year, has around 120 pages in the printed version and is also offered as an app. Paying print subscribers can log in to consume all app content at no extra charge. If you don't pay a print subscription, individual issues have to be bought in the app.


The advantages of the new article-based app approach for the readers are obvious. In brief:

  • better overview

  • individual articles can also be consumed separately

  • practical structuring in topics

  • more convenient handling

  • requires less storage space on the tablet or smartphone

  • faster download of content

  • convenient online and offline reading


Such an app design is not only suitable for regular magazines. The flexible, modular structure is also very well suited for digital catalogue design, a digital brochure or other publications with interactive and multimedia content to be published in the Apple App Store (iOS) or Google Play Store (Android).

A huge image boost, a wider digital offer to advertising partners and last but not least digitization for the readers are perfectly served with this app service from HCG corporate designs.


The new, article-based app design approach offers countless options for efficiently producing content and distributing it just as efficiently across various channels. Managing the content on an article level instead of on a magazine level allows for a maximum of flexibility in terms of design and perfectly timed publishing of the content.

Additional options for monetizing the app with advertising banners and a more convenient handling of the app for the reader is a great win-win situation.

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