For any online magazine, be it published on website or as a native app, reader experience is the Holy Grail. This experience engages readers, and more importantly, attracts loyal subscribers. Yet one problem remains. With so many features and options digital publishing brings, it’s tempting to deviate from the tried and true. And it’s pretty clear where the wrong path leads.
In the marketplace of digital attention, people don’t have the time and patience to explore nettlesome publications and they’ll certainly avoid second glances anywhere they find them. At Realview, design is paramount, which is why we produce digital magazines that don’t just achieve clients’ objectives but also creates great reader experiences. (i.e. samples in this page).
For any aspiring publisher keen to design online magazines that will cut through the market, here are 9 things that annoy readers most that you should avoid making.
Thanks to e-magazine designer, Nadya Tsech, for this interesting piece:
1. Large magazine size
What does “large magazine size” mean? Is a 100 MB file large? This is a reasonable question; we should take into account the storage space of readers’ devices (the average reader has 16 or 32 GB). A reasonable size of a single issue is about
150 ± 100 MB. Huge files drive readers away from your magazine.
- Reduce the file size of images. Use crop and resize tools, be sure all images have a screen resolution of 72 instead of a print resolution of 300 dpi.
- Optimize video content for a tablet magazine (.mp4 format with .h264 encoding), use crop and compress tools.
- Don’t overload the magazine. Too much interactivity slows a magazine down.
- Add to the kiosk an “Auto Remove” button, if your publishing software provides this service.
2. Lack of free preview
The best way to drive away new readers is to disable the free preview.
- Offer special free issue with attractive articles, information about the magazine and subscription plan.
- Enable a free article preview. Reader will see a preview image of the articles and a purchase panel.
- Allow readers to download one back issue for free.
3. Buy button without a price
4. Mandatory subscription
This point applies only to free magazines. Often readers must subscribe to download a free issue. It makes sense, however it’s better if readers have an idea of the magazine before subscription.
Suggestions: Enable an article preview or special issue.
5. Audio and video autoplay
Many years ago, lots of web pages auto played background sounds. It was a user’s nightmare. And now we can see the same widespread UX-mistake in editorial design. We should learn from web design mistakes and not use an Autoplay option ever.
Suggestions: Notify and give users an option to play the video / audio (or not).
Example: I like National Geographic’s solution. They show a full screen video frame, brief description and a “tap to begin” button – very informative.
6. Slow page loading
Web users expect a website to load in less than 3 seconds, digital magazine readers expect magazine pages to load even faster.
- Test every issue before publishing.
- Make sure pages load quickly, otherwise remove extra interactivity and animation.
- Rapid page flipping (settings).
- Test a publishing tool – it might be a software bug.
7. Too much interactivity
Some magazines look like they’re designed to show all their existing features. Use interactivity reasonably to enrich content, to illustrate the article and to navigate readers. Limit the amount of interactive features per page.
8. Non-adaptive design
No doubt, the cover is an important part. However, a lot of publishers don’t adapt covers which do not suggest readability and this can still spoil the first impression.
Suggestions: Adapt publications to required screen sizes and orientations.
Examples: Both magazines are fully interactive and landscape oriented, except the covers.
9. Distracting animation
Animation helps to draw readers’ attention. However, animated elements may distract you from the content and make content unreadable.
Solution: Use animations reasonably, don’t loop the action if it isn’t necessary.
Examples: These are 2 pages from one of my favourite free magazines. The first page looks good and attracts our attention; nonetheless, a constantly flashing button makes it unreadable. The second page is a looped screencast. Note the arrow in the bottom right corner. The action repeats twice and then stops; it’s enough to draw our attention.
I’m interested to hear what you’ve encountered in your experience – what kind of bad digital magazine practices do you see most often?
Digital magazine is completely different from reading print media, giving readers an enhanced online content experience. This shake-up has already reached publishers’ doors