I downloaded Wired for iPad the other day. I wanna say it was for research, lulz or because I just love Wired that much, but the truth is Gary gave me a gift certificate and told me download it.
As it turns out, it was the most thought-provoking issue of Wired I’ve ever read.
My first thought was that the price really has to come down. Charging the checkout aisle price is retarded and everyone knows it. I might – might – pay that for National Geographic, sometimes, but not for Wired. Except just this once.
First impression on opening: “It looks very nice.” I found myself interacting with some very well-designed pages, but also getting lost in some questionable layouts. There’s a blue ribbon graphic that attempts to both tie together the overall design and subtly guide the viewer on where to go next – down for multi-page articles, right for the next feature – but it’s a little too subtle in parts and took me awhile to even realize what it was doing. I can see how the layout method could easily become second nature after browsing through a couple of issues, however.
One surprising thing that happens in this medium: as soon the brain realizes it can actually interact with things that were just design elements in print, it wants to interact with all of them. Random shapes that were just put there to look pretty get tapped on, and then frowned at when nothing happens. It requires design justifications that print never dreamed of. (Not unlike the, um, internet.)
One thing you’ll never see other mediums do is switch layouts from vertical to horizontal. It’s one of my favorite things about the iPad, and the way this design challenge was handled throughout was fascinating and at times even fun. We’re definitely entering a new age in which everything has to translate seamlessly from horizontal to vertical and back again. It’s exciting and potentially a very rich space to explore for the undaunted creative.
The technical limitations (read: no Flash) are like having your girlfriend’s parents show up to your kegger. SAD. The Mars feature tried so hard to be cool and failed so completely miserably. It was totally unusable and un-navigable. Which especially sucks because it looked pretty and made me want to use it and navigate it.
The most fascinating part for me was by far the way in which each advertiser uniquely approached the medium. It’s many an advertiser’s wet dream: print that can do everything a commercial or banner can. The potential level of engagement is absurdly superior. It’s like having a full-site takeover, but thanks to some nice foresight, it can be flipped through just as fast as a print ad, giving intuitive, physical control back to the viewer and reducing the amount of obnoxiousness back down to print levels. I’d love to see how more advertisers approach this, and I even found myself eager to start concepting.
Sadly, many of the advertisers in this first issue just don’t get it. The copy is too small, the layout is only designed vertically, it’s an obvious copy-paste from the print spread (with faux page seam showing – really, Dockers??), or it’s just boring. For the ones that I did notice or interact with, there still seem to be some technical limitations. (Again – the F word. You know which one.) I found myself actually watching some of the embedded videos in the ads, but I know if I wasn’t in the industry I’d be unlikely to take even that extra step. The videos should start playing automatically – actually, screw that. The whole ad should be animated and fully interactive as soon as you see it.
Many of the ads linked to what I can only assume was a landing page – but as soon as the cue box to open Safari popped up I got inexplicably lazy and changed my mind. This isn’t the internet – you’re about as likely to want to leave in the middle of your article as you would be to get up from the magazine and type in a URL. (Not at all likely.) To make matters worse, there was a profusion of “click here” buttons. Seriously?
Some advertisers took a cue from a magazine feature I really liked – the interactive tab-through copy block – but it tended to be completely uninteresting and apparently just an excuse to squeeze in every single company talking point into one ad. I can see how this tool could work if anyone bothered to make it engaging in any way, but sadly no one did.
I’m positive the whole medium will evolve into something completely different, and soon. One major thing I’d like to see is the ability to have the ad act as a storefront so customers can make the purchase right there without even leaving the page, and charge it to their iTunes accounts. The less work it is to actually spend money on something, the more likely people are to do it. Ditch the whole notion of a landing page – it’s rarely successful in it’s native medium and is only a barrier in this one.
To sum it all up: say whatever you want about the magazine itself, this is a whole new world for advertising. And I wanna explore!!
But not for five bucks an issue.