There’s a bit of a battle going on to find a new format for digital magazines. I’m not talking about devices – there’s no doubt in my mind that we’ll all be using either iPhone or eReader devices to access this content. I’m talking about the actual reading experience. I wrote about the Lonny Magazine, which seeks to reproduce the magazine experience online, but misses some valuable advantages of the internet. I wrote then of the limits of using “online paper” as a medium for a digital magazine.
This prototype from Bonnier starts from an interaction design and aims to make a device-independent format for digital magazines that focuses on the reader’s experience. Take a look!
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I think they’re on to something, the layout is logical and flexible enough to hold a variety of content, and the way to navigate is very intuitive. Crucially for magazines; advertising can also be embedded throughout the magazine, either as video or inline ads. Some thought needs to be put into searching across magazines, and to some tools such as bookmarking or emailing articles, but I’m sure that’s coming – it’s just not demonstrated here.
In a similar vein, but with more functionality, Time has come out with a prototype on YouTube
Finally, a digital magazine format for eReaders that I can get excited about.
Both are still prototypes, and I’m sure others are being developed. I hope a common standard will evolve so that magazine readers can comfortably follow all magazines without having to “relearn” how functionalities work across devices.
I’m sure this focus on the reading experience is good for website design, in the future we may well be working with an integrated keyboard and tablet screen navigation to replicate the “gliding” scroll mechanism that is becoming a feature of so many devices.
There’s a change in thinking demonstrated here, we usually talk about people coming to websites as “visitors” or “users”, the key change that has led to new development was thinking of them as readers, and working on the reader experience rather than recreating an existing off-line experience. Perhaps our language needs to change as well.