Saturday, March 12, 2011

Interactive magazine design

There has been an explosion of e-book creation activity. Everyone is watching to see how publishing business models are impacted by the trend—some with anticipation, some with apprehension and/or fear. Change is coming to our world and it effects how we and the next generation will learn how to read and communicate. Before we look to the future let's look at where we've been.

A few years ago magazine publishers began to look at how to use the Internet to expand their reader base. Websites sprang up based on the magazine brand. Some publishers found subscribers wanted the experience of their print counterpart, and magazines using page turn technology were born.  Users wanted more from this experience and publishers began to ask, "what if?"

One early entry in the PDF magazine model was InDesign Magazine, published by The magazine was instrumental in creating buzz about Adobe InDesign. When Adobe included the ability to add videos in PDFs, InDesign became a great way to get it into a PDF. The magazine, created using InDesign, included videos.

As I grew more comfortable with viewing magazines online I started using one of the digital magazine delivery services, Zinio,  In 2008, Zinio offered magazines and books for download to the desktop. Today, magazine purchasers can also download publications to their iPad, iPod, and iPhone devices.  Magazines for Android devices can't be far behind. Zinio offers a number of free sample magazines for download.

Here's a spread from Layers Magazine. Readers can zoom in to read text, and the magazine frequently included hyperlinks to designer and advertiser sites.

Other magazine producers began to give users a more unique experience. National Geographic produced an interactive version of its issue on Water. It's cool to watch a magazine cover rain before your eyes, with sound of thunder, text, and the familiar yellow NGM branding finally appear.

Last year a traditional magazine, Smithsonian, produced an interactive version of the print special magazine on 40 things you need to know about the next 40 years. Some articles included Flash video presentations.

One more magazine publisher takes user experience to new heights. VIV magazine creates a rich interactive experience from the articles to its advertising. Here's an example. This article gives women the opportunity to visualize sunglasses and hats on a model.

What does the future hold? Who knows? One thing is certain: the new world of digital publishing can be an exciting place for talented designers working with gifted editors, programmers, and usability experts. Let's get ready to get in the game.

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