January 2, 2013 Harold Tor

I-S Magazine’s iPad app: Prime example of a great magazine app [Review]

More than six months ago, I did a review of a magazine’s iPad app (a TV-synopsis magazine called HUMO in Belgium) to show how print publishers are finding it hard to rethink their content presentation, sales and profit model, and marketing strategies since the advent of the tablet.

Since then, I have been on the search for the ultimate magazine iPad app to show you how magazines can, and should, devise great iPad app with great UX – AND make money out of the content. I-S magazine from Singapore emerges as a top winner in its own class.

I-S Magazine is a free lifestyle and entertainment magazine that is extremely popular in the chic island-state. It has been around for many years, and is the resource for trendy hotspots, nightclubs, gourmet restaurants, movie reviews and parties in and around the country. Less than a year ago, I-S embraced the digital age, and has since never looked back.

 I-S Magazine’s iPad app: Prime example of a great magazine app

Housed within the iOS’s Newsstand environment, you can download any digital copy in the Library.

The I-S Magazine app took note of both the advantages and disadvantages of a printed magazine and digital version, which is why it has not chosen to simply do up a pdf download like what HUMO has done. Furthermore, it sought to embrace and combine the advantages of both sides, such that using the app is such a great user experience. As far as I can see, the app made use of the following fundamental principles:-

Advantages of a printed magazine:

  • “Surfablity”: the ability of the reader to go to any content at any time, and the keyword here is INTUITIVELY.
  • Bookmark: Much like how you would dog-ear a magazine to be able to refer back to an information that interests you.

Advantages of using an iPad:

  • Portability: You can carry more magazines in your iPad and it makes no difference in weight
  • Colours, vibrant colours: Why waste the precious Retina display when you can make the photos and images in your magazine SHINE?
  • Video and sound: Got a movie review? Show the trailer! Or an ad, which is great opportunity for an advertiser.
  • Map it!: Got an address? Why not direct the reader to its location such that he can SEE where it is?
  • Linkability: Got a link? Connect the reader directly to a website so that the information that he gets the gratification of instant information at his fingertips.

You can only deduce these principles when you have done enough research and studies into the readership behaviour of your target users, hence the great UX was not a coincidence. Kudos, I-S Magazine!

1. Surfability

People flip through magazines, until they see something that interests them. Flipping through a pdf file is simply cumbersome. Hence IS Magazine created a four-tier browsing system:

One, when you flip the pages, a top bar appears to tell you where you are in a content and how much more is there to go. When you tap on the bottom of the screen, a similar bottom bar with page icons appear.

Two, content is not only organised linearly but also vertically. Hence, articles longer than a screen size are scrollable in a vertical motion. You can clearly see that when you spot a big YELLOW downward-pointing arrow.

Three, content is also organised in bundles, like how magazines do specials in certain editions. When you flips through the magazine and comes onto the content page of the bundle, it offers a direct link to the different pages of that bundle. Hence the internal links work much like how one jumps to a section one likes in a printed magazine.

Last but not least, if the editor wants a content to stay within the screen size, there are scrollbars to indicate scrollable sections.

 I-S Magazine’s iPad app: Prime example of a great magazine app

 I-S Magazine’s iPad app: Prime example of a great magazine app

2. Bookmark

Like what was said earlier, one dog-ears a page to bookmark it in a magazine. So the bookmark button is placed at the top-right corner of the screen, and will only appear when you tap in that corner. What a great idea!

3. Portability

Weight is one of the major reasons why people like reading on an iPad.

4. Colours

The iPad has such great visuals, which is why I do not understand why print publishers cannot make use of such a great opportunity to enhance their magazines. The I-S people clearly know this, because the photos are stunning, which will never be the case for the printed or pdf versions. Stunning photos and graphics let your readers think you are a good magazine, apart from the great content of course. Great-looking images is also a fantastic opportunity for your advertisers, hence the move from print to digital is not all gloom and doom but another opportunity to reach out to your readers.

 I-S Magazine’s iPad app: Prime example of a great magazine app

5. Video and sounds

I love this feature, and it is one of the reasons why readers switch to the digital version. I-S magazine does movie reviews so trailers are placed in the reviews to give readers a feel of the movie itself, apart from the photos one can click on and view enlarged. Once again, it is an opportunity for the magazine’s advertisers: video is what publishers should look at now as well.

 I-S Magazine’s iPad app: Prime example of a great magazine app

6. Maps

What I also like about the app is that you can find out the location of an address with a link to Google maps. So talking about a good restaurant, telling about how good it is, showing your readers great-looking pictures or videos of the place are not the end: you can actually lead them to it.

 I-S Magazine’s iPad app: Prime example of a great magazine app

7. Linkability

Remember the days when you read something interesting, you jot down some interesting bits and then switch on your computer to google about it? Well, that was yesterday when I was browsing through HUMO’s pdf magazine.

With I-S, they made sure to provide the web addresses of all their reviewees – shops, restaurants, clubs, parties, supplier, you name it. With a click on the link, you get the internal browser opening up the site. Information at your fingertips? That is what people use an iPad for, so give it to them!

Great job, I-S Magazine!!

No wonder they won the Best Publishing App Award at the Asian Publishing Awards 2012, held on 1 December in Kuala Lumpur!

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