Unless you live under a rock (or maybe in a commune), you’ve probably heard that Apple just released iOS7. Annnd if you’ve already installed it, you’ve certainly noticed it looks more like a 3 year old’s toy than a modern OS. What you may not realize is that the hideous paint job of iOS7 is actually overshadowing what is a major improvement in user experience. So we thought this would be a good time to explain the difference between UX and UI design.
What do you talk about when you sit around discussing how things should be? A frequent topic at SLANT is the creative potential of consuming content on touchscreens.
These conversations became more focused in February when Apple demoed the iPad without a digital media solution in place. Since then, a few magazines have launched digital versions, but interactivity has been dismal, at best and consumer reviews have been below average.
It's easy to see that iPad publication readers want a richer experience.
liquidpubs came to SLANT this year with the concept of creating a new customizable application that would allow publishers to create more robust digital and interactive newspapers, magazines and books.
How often do you get to be part of the solution? So of course, we dug in.
We started with storyboarding the graphic user interface elements of the base application, including the paths users would take through the content. We then concepted ways to infuse gorgeous interactivity within the magazine like like pop-out timelines and galleries within articles. Paired with animated covers and articles with motion backgrounds, the truly interactive magazine came to life.
From here, liquidpubs began working with their development team to program the app to make their customizeable base application a working reality.
In the company's press release, liquidpubs founder Ryan Vetter added, "We've been developing and planning since last year, and have worked hard to assemble an amazing team of people and a powerful solution for the next generation of publishing. We're excited to finally be out in the world."
"We can't wait to work with liquidpubs to help publishers' deliver unbelievably cool content on this digital platform.” said Christopher Cecil, SLANT's founder and Head of Creative Intelligence.
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.
You have this idea. It could be an awesome app. Or a killer product. Or just a whole new way for people to engage with your brand.
Think about it. With the proliferation of mobile and touchscreen devices like iPhone, Android, and Apple’s new iPad, hundreds of brands have the opportunity to deliver an amazing user experience.
The $64,000 question is: What now?
At SLANT, that's the kind of challenge we live for. (Well, besides all-U-can-eat taco night).
So, we created this video to share our thoughts on Graphic User Interface and User Experience Design (GUI + UX) and its ties to marketing.
From designing the GUI for products, iPhone apps, friendlier websites and content management systems, we know this stuff. And we love it. We can't wait to help make your product better and make you famous(er). Let's talk!
HEY YOU! Yeah, you - the one squinting to read the text in the video. Try the 'fullscreen' button or go watch the video in HD over on Vimeo.
Behind the scenes shots posted in the Fotos section
Here at SLANT, we're getting lots of questions like: "so the iPad - what's the point? Isn't this just a giant iPhone?" Well, yeah, it is. BUT...we see tons of potential.
Our biggest gripe about the iPad when it was announced is that Apple didn't spend enough time showing us how things are going to be different on the iPad than on our iPhones, iPod Touches, or laptops. They showed us web surfing, music, pictures and movies, but it's all the same that we're used to. They needed to show us how amazing it will be to do other stuff that we CAN'T do on iPhone.
It's so obvious to us that we started to wonder why it wasn't obvious to everybody else: this is going to be an amazing way to read and interact with magazines and newspapers. And for this to be truly amazing, we knew that big publishing companies were going to need to really embrace the platform. And by 'embrace' we mean, totally rethink their content for full-blown interaction.
Instead of flipping digital pages with your finger, imagine sliding articles into place with your finger, or flicking through images embedded in an article. Or how about making Ads finally worth looking at by rotating objects 360º with your finger right inside the ad? All of these things will make the iPad an amazing experience for consuming content.
But there were no such announcements or demos showing a partnership with the Condé Nasts or the Newscorps of the world to offer compelling interactive versions of their publications. We were beginning to think we were the only ones who got it and we were going to have to do this ourselves. Looks like our visionary-ness has caught on and the big guys are finally getting it. So, that's why we say: "Told you so!!"
See what the publishers are saying about the iPad...some really exciting stuff!
- Wired Magazine: http://bit.ly/95vgK7
- Other Condé Nast Publications: http://nyti.ms/9SHtHL
- Penguin Books: http://bit.ly/c0EWOh
- Wall Street Journal: http://bit.ly/do9PGl