Online Magazine Design

I’ve had an iPad for about nine months now. I have been consuming more and more content on it. It’s where I read blogs, it’s where I read my twitter fead, I read a lot of emails on it, and do a lot of web research and surfing. I have been reading more and more books with the Kindle on my iPad as well.

A few months ago I purchased Fast Company magazine iPad edition, and it totally sucked. It was essentially screen shots of the magazine. It had a table of contents to get to specific articles, but it was a cumbersome user experience, and I dropped it after two issues. I tried again with The Economist just last week. The full digital edition came with the print edition, so it doesn’t cost any extra.

They have done it right. It is a great experience to read the magazine online. There is a great multi-level table of contents, so you click on the super-headings (“Leaders”, “Americas”, “Asian”, “Business”, etc…) and then see all the articles within that heading. Each article you can flip through and/or read and then easily return to the table of contents. Bookmarking is very easy and intuitive. And if learning about products is your thing, most adds have an interactive option by clicking in the center of the ad.

There are also two super bonuses for me. First, for each article there is an audio download button, so I can download the spoken version of all the articles I want, and then later when I’m driving, I can listen to them in the car. We drove from Colorado to Wyoming these past two days, and I’ve already listened to two hours of articles. It’s awesome.

The other super bonus is the ability to increase font size. With the Fast Company digital copy, you can zoom with two fingers, but then you have to move the document around the screen to be able to read it. With The Economist, you pinch and zoom, but it just changes the font size – and therefore how many pages the article takes to read. It’s very similar to the way the Kindle works in that regard.

What they can do next is have a listing of all the audio articles you’ve downloaded in one place, and have search capability. But I’ll take it just as it is, any day. I think it’s the future of magazine reading.