When I was young, my first computer was a Tandy TRS-80. Back then, the graphics were limited; the screen resolution was 128×48 black and white, so a lot was left to the imagination, and believe it or not, text games were popular.
Text adventures like Zork are a classic example of such a game – you were given a simple description of your surrounds and the computer would accept a limited number of text direction and action commands; go east; look up; pick up knife, give gem to troll.
Needless to say you needed a good imagination and spatial awareness to play these games. You needed spatial awareness because in your mind you needed to picture where you were, where you had come from and where you needed to go. The same can be said for the new wave of digital publications – you need good spatial awareness to work out where you are in your content creation!
Have you ever felt lost in that all singing all dancing digital edition that someone has just thought too hard about? What about experienced the frustration of the cut scene waiting to finish so you can continue to read what you wanted? Let’s be brutally honest here and say waited for some text to fly in from the left and right like something awe inspiring, ground breaking was being announced when in reality, it’s just the title of the next article.
Now I’m not saying I or anyone else has trouble navigating with some of the fancy digital magazine editions – I cut my teeth on Zork and Haunted House so my spatial awareness is just fine; my point is WHY MAKE IT SO HARD? With the advancement in technologies today, there are tons of options to make your life easy. One is producing an engaging flipbook.
I know you do agree that a good digital publication is still about the content, just like its paper predecessor, and there is nothing wrong with a simple linear presentation. If there is more text, images or video that needs presenting to the reader, then why not offer simple callouts or popups, rather than sending the user into a labyrinth of pages?
There is no need to get over enthusiastic with the interactivity either, some simple thought out interactive elements are all that is needed to lift a flat PDF digital replica into an engaging online interactive edition.
Finally, always consider the cost of producing ‘cutting edge’ digital magazines, the time, resources and licensing may not give you the return on investment when a simpler format and presentation communicates to your reader just fine.
Lets face it, you have a lot more than text and 128×48 resolution graphics to work with these days, even with a PDF replica. You don’t have to be fancy or spend a lot of money, your content creation efforts can be successful with the digital publishing tools that are widely available today.