Using the Tool

I’m reading the digital version of a monthly education technology publication. As I’m turning “pages” that are basically the print magazine design, just online, I wonder when, finally, these publications will produce content delivery designs that are built for the technology, rather than just print pieces put online. I’m hoping these tech publications, of all things, will lead the way!

It reminds me of the early days of the web when all people wanted to post was their print brochure. We worked hard to get people to understand that content could -and should – be different online. You write differently, you structure the content differently, you choose different words and visuals. Content should be designed from the very beginning for digital delivery, not transforming content written for and designed to be delivered in print.

I’m reading the magazine in iBooks on an iPad. It’s not a bad reading experience, but is constrained, limited. It’s linear, even more so than a print piece. I have to zoom in on most of the pages because to fit both pages in a spread on the iPad, the text is a little small for my late-40s eyes. I started reading the magazine in a browser. Again, not a horrible experience, but far, far from ideal. I know I wouldn’t read the whole thing is I had to read it in that long, linear fashion.

What would a digital native “magazine” look like? I’m not sure, but can see some possibilities. Flipboard, for example, gives some ideas of what a digital native publication could be. Let me choose the articles I not to read without making me scroll. Don’t present two spread pages. Take advantage of the medium: embed video, use more visuals in slideshows, open links in separate windows. Let me share a single article on Twitter or Facebook.

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