Having recently completed the design and UI for an iPad digital magazine prototype ourselves, we couldn't wait to see what Wired and Adobe have dreamt up.
Here are 10 initial thoughts from SLANT's test drive of Wired's first digital issue:
- Holy file size, Batman! It took minutes to install but this thing is loaded with content.
- Price: The first issue was $5. Will be interested to see how the subscription model unfolds. We may be trading paper and ink resources for programmers and video resources - should the consumer expect a per-issue cost-savings in the digital format or not?
- Cover: Landscape, Portrait. Portrait, Landscape. It's just fun to play with to see what changes - expanded image, some of the handwritten notes disappear, the word "works" in the main headline jumps from one side of Woody to the other. It's kinda like those old Highlights magazine picture puzzles.
- Cover > Content: It may seem like a no brainer, but instant access from the cover article headline to the article itself is cool. OK, moving on from the cover.
- Content navigation: Both horizontal and vertical navigation are available. The horizontal "scrubber" nav shows thumbnails which indicate the article length via article page "stacks". Handy for when you're in a browsing mood or want a more in-depth read.
- Article interaction: Some interactive features are clearly called out with icons. Some are more subtle and easy to miss. This reminds us of the recent iPad usability study - some interactive devices can be standardized, and if you want to be creative, make sure people know you're doing it.
- In-article scrolling: iPad interaction is trial-and-error. But we can help that success rate with clearer visual cues. We thought we discovered one convention in the blue-ribbon-arrow visual element that weaves through Wired articles. These "arrows" seemed to point down when an article continued on the next page, prompting the user to a "scroll" action. That theory was blown when we came to an article with the ribbon-arrow, but no additional content to scroll to.
- Favorite article: The Trent Reznor sound studio article was a perfect candidate for iPad content. A simple one-page article with three numbered columns. Touch a number, the corresponding image appears and sound plays. Simple and beautiful.
- Ads: Most of the interactive ads were creative, entertaining and informative. Is it an echo of the age when people clicked on banner ads because they didn't know any better? We don't think so. But we hope these won't turn into repurposed TV ads but instead use the medium to inform and engage more - let us play with car colors, even though we already know we like gunmetal gray. The non-interactive ads were disappointing - especially because they seemed to have visual cues for interactivity already built in but didn't deliver. Of course, they still looked great because they were on an iPad screen.
- What was missing? Standard stuff - pinch to zoom wasn't enabled on every article. Chalk that up to artistic or editorial license? Also, we missed utilitarian simplicities like being able to highlight/copy text or a search feature.
Wired has done a great job - as expected.
We're stoked because our recent iPad project implements additional design, UI and interactivity features we haven't seen in Wired or other digital publications to date. So, way to go SLANT team!
You want to see it, dontcha? Not yet, but we'll keep you posted.