Digital magazines have been enjoying some prom queen status recently.
And it’s easy to see why: a digital publication (look at Z-Mags) where you can converge imagery, text, sound, video, sharing, and all manner of interactive content can be very cool and very meaningful to people near the bull’s eye of the brand.
Digital magazines can be optimized for tablets. They can be archived. And they carry advertising. Look at some of the really cool DMs. They feel like an editorial arcade game. http://cnettv.cnet.com/best-digital-magazine-ipad/9742-1_53-50088770.html
To understand how long this will last and prepare for what’s next, there are two truths worth remembering.
1. A page is a page is a page. Let’s admit that many of the 1st websites developed by clients felt like filing cabinets, and possessed all of their charm. Then, as content management systems helped agencies and clients move to more of a publishing platform to manage brand content, websites started to look and feel like publications. Hence a return to the core ideas of what makes a page look good: Negative space. Message clarity. Type hierarchy. Subheads. Eye flow. The fundamentals of a brand’s visual vocabulary. Digital magazines owe some of their appeal to the fact that they reconsider the visual field as a blank sheet of paper that needs to be designed.
2. “We surf the internet, but we swim in magazines.” This headline, which I love, ran in a print ad sponsored by an association of magazine publishers who could not contain their glee that magazine readership has increased 1% each year for more than a decade – largely overlapping the evolution of the web. The reason: Magazines – digital or otherwise - are unique, deep, content-rich environments for people who are truly engaged.
There’s still much that DMs need to address. How can they be optimized as commercial platforms, for example? Their prom queen status will be in jeopardy if they look good, but can’t really dance.
For now, though, long live digital magazines. In today’s terms, that could mean 3 years.