Magazine Art Direction on the iPad

Video by Brad Colbow analyzing the art direction of three magazines’ iPad apps: Time, GQ, and Popular Science. Time and GQ both only work well in landscape — they lose much of their design when held vertically. (GQ looks particularly bad in portrait orientation.) Popular Science works equally well in both orientations.

I’ll add that Popular Science also has a better meta design than Time. Time and GQ is selling each issue as a separate iPad application. I’m not sure who Time thinks is going to spend $5 a week for a new Time app, but my guess is that his name is Joe Nobody. But regardless of per-issue pricing, who wants a separate app for each issue? Shouldn’t part of the advantage of digital distribution be that you can carry around many back issues? Who wants a page full of Time icons on their home screen?

With Popular Science (as well as GQ), there’s one app, and all issues appear inside that one app. That’s clearly the right way to do this.

Update: I originally wrote that GQ was like Time — one app per issue — but it’s not. It’s one app with in-app purchasing for subsequent issues.

Monday, 5 April 2010