In an era of less-than-robust print revenue for magazine publishers, the digital business stream has become increasingly important to a healthy bottom line (or at least the appearance of such).
To accommodate its digital goals, a print magazine is often redesigned (or, in the worst cases, simply scaled down) to fit on a tablet screen. And now, the trend is for those tablet versions to undergo yet another downsizing, into iPhone versions.
According to D.B Hebbard of TalkingNewMedia.com, it’s the readers who are demanding these iPhone versions of their favorite publications. And the customer is always right. Except when they’re wrong.
As Hebbard asks, “Is it really wise to add iPhone support for a digital magazine designed for tablets?”
Magazine art directors and designers take great pains to ensure readability in their finished product. Their choice of fonts, imagery, leading, spacing — all are carefully selected to enhance the reader’s experience and support the brand’s look and feel.
And then they squeeze it all onto a screen meant for something else entirely. True, many brands are making the effort to redesign their print publications for their tablet readers, and some of these are quite well done. The next step down, though, to the phone screen, is getting less than rave reviews from readers.
And understandably so, as the results often leave odd spacing, tiny text and lots of wasted space. Not exactly the kind of experience we hope for our magazine readers.
It’s not an easy problem to fix. According to Hebbard, “… many publishers are producing replica editions and are simply adding in iPhone support without alterations. Others are creating native tablet editions, or hybrid editions, then again simply porting those efforts over to the iPhone. From a reader’s perspective, let alone a designer’s, it is hard to see how this can work well.”
Giving readers a multi-channel experience is a worthwhile pursuit. But if you are going to play in that sandbox, don’t neglect the important of your user’s end experience. As publishers, that is all we have left at the end of the day.