Wired shares lessons learned from the iPad
Wired's first iPad edition has been a hit, selling 73,000 copies in the first eight days. Scott Dadich, creative director at Wired, spoke this week at the Magazine Publishers of America's Dimensional to Digital conference about some of his lessons learned from the magazine's first edition, as well as how tablet editions could evolve.
Dadich noted an important distinction when developing content for tablets: It's not about creating the content just to create it, it's about audience engagement and whether it actually makes the experience better. Before adding interactive features, Dadich said Wired's editors and designers ask whether the features would make the story better. "It's fundamentally about enhancing the storytelling or the journalism itself," he said.
A lot of what attracts readers to a tablet edition might be new features, but don't discount the details. The most important lesson Dadich learned from Wired's first edition is the "power of design," right down to the typography. He demonstrated an up-close look at a custom, screen-sharp font Wired created in order to make the reader experience better.
While there's a lot of buzz about the bells and whistles on iPad magazine editions, there are also some complaints, such as the size of the app. Dadich said the extended download time for the app is less of a hurdle for monthly magazines such as Wired, because it's worth it to wait a few minutes only once a month. But he hopes Wired will be able to improve on the file size in time. "It's obviously a tradeoff ― it's something we considered," he said.
Aside from improving the file size, Dadich envisions other enhancements, such as additional gestures readers can use to navigate through the content. The comments have rolled in from readers, offering more specific feedback than what they normally share about the print magazine. For instance, readers have asked for some improvements when browsing, such as clearer signals to interactive features. A large proportion of feedback asked for a subscription to the tablet edition, which Wired hopes to offer in the future.
iPad editions are also raising operational issues, such as which department (print or Web) oversees development of the tablet content. At Wired, design is driven by the print department, since it's largely about enhancing the print magazine product, Dadich said.
That puts an additional burden on print staffs that already are stretched thin. "We're seeing a lot of extra work with a few extra staff," said David Link, founder and creative director at The Wonderfactory, a consultant that works with WoodWing software to help publishers develop iPad editions.
Of course, it's still the early days, and magazine publishers have much to learn about creating and delivering iPad editions. As Link said, "there's no right or wrong way right now."