Don’t wanna be naysayer. But I honestly don’t think Richard Branson’s new “Project” magazine for iPad works.
I did not follow the launch event and all the press related to it. I knew about it in podcast (Buzz Out Loud). It sounds like a big thing. I mean it’s like the only big digital magazine trial after the Wired Magazine iPad edition.
The whole thing… it’s just another magazine on the iPad.
Here’s why I think it doesn’t work:
Content is great but not anything better than others – it’s like tech x lifestyle x urban living magazine. It’s a bit of Wallpaper, a bit of Monocle, a bit of Wired, a bit of CG…
I don’t like reading magazine in a self-contained iPad app at all. Why don’t I just read from a browser?
The cool thing of iPad is… the Internet is in your hand. You read the Macbook Air review in Wired. Then, maybe, you wanna open a new browser page in Safari and browse Apple’s site for the spec and stuff. The beauty is the free interactions of information. This kind of interaction is very personal and unpredictable.
In a digital magazine, I have to follow the contents in order. This is not a modern digital experience.
So, what experience the magazine offer besides missing the interaction with information?
You get a bunch of videos, photos with a “X” button signaling where you tap to reveal a label, interview recordings, columned text, flicking the screen frustratingly.
Maybe I am too old. I found that noisy. What is the focus? The articles? The photos? Buttons in the photo?
Bonnie made a wonderful quote, “It’s like wizard book in Harry Potter”.
In Harry Potter movie, the books the characters read… The illustrations in book can animate and people in photo can speak…
This is a great insight! This kind of digital magazine only works in fiction. It’s good demo but not good interaction.
To me, I feel like the whole magazine is very much like those flash web sites features in theFWA. You know… those fucking full browser screen flash web site that chokes your whole Mac!
A large part of the magazine (namely, intro page of featured articles) is a full screen video in the background with static text laid out in front. It’s just visually too much. Background moving, text fading in, sometimes, there’s sound… Should I pay attention to the video in the background? Or, read the text? Or what?
The user interaction is the most frustrating part. It makes me feel I am stupid!
Check the page below:
Do you notice the black band saying “Tap the covers to see inside”?
Tap on the images and they will pop more stuff!
Now, count how many buttons are there?
You would guess every element around the edges are buttons. That’s smart. But it’s actually only the red cross on the bottom right and the black circle dot in the middle right are buttons.
The cross at the bottom left corner signals more stuff below (scroll down).
There are so match things I think touchable yet not touchable. When touch something, it be response to you with a hugh callout.
Can I just sit, relax and enjoy the contents in a paper magazine effortless flicking pages?
One big problem in user interface: the “links” or “buttons” do not feedback on touch. There’s no highlight when you touch links or buttons. You don’t know if a bold header is just a header or it serves as link as well.
Navigation is not web done either. You can flick left/right to switch between articles, flick up/down to scroll. But, very often, it’s hard to get the app response to the flick you intended to. That’s mainly because the page has a big element which response to touch. The touch is being registered to that element in the page. You can that element responds to your touch while you actually want to flick the page.
It took me quite some effort to flick through this page. I kept smudging the “dirt”!
There’s no web counterpart. When I first heard the magazine’s name, I googled it for official site for more info. I’ve got only other web sites mentioning about it. There’s no official “Project” mag site. WTF?
Try some key words yourself: project mag ipad, project virgin
This thing is done so wrong… The photos look great, illustrations are beautiful, articles are well written. Adding them up results in a crappy reading experience.
Is it because it’s just me who fail to appreciate snippets of textual, video, audio, interactivity and graphical experience all put in one screen?
Or, it’s just like multimedia CD-ROM in the 90s? Remember Microsoft Encarta CD-ROM and Human Body CD-ROM?
I think people don’t need an app for magazine. This has been proven in the 90s with the automatic death of multimedia CD-ROM as the Internet became popular. Or, well, iPad magazine is just not for people who read….