Mar 08, 2011

Staying on Top of Reading

Holly Hagen's picture
Holly Hagen
Senior Visual Designer

Since helping Zinio launch their iPad app, we have been keeping an eye on emerging reading & publishing services, as well as best practices and patterns around reading on the web, device, just where ever on what ever. And since I know it is a never-ending task to stay on top of the latest and greatest, I thought I'd share some of the things that are inspiring us in the reading space these days.

Glo: Interactive BibleGlo: Interactive BibleFirst off is Glo... I found this on Mashable while keeping track of all the new tablets being released this year. It is an interactive bible or what they are seeing as the future of the bible. I suggest taking a look at some of the videos on their site. Amazingly thorough. The contextual lenses (Bible, Atlas, Timeline, Media, Topical) are a neat way to re-experience something so evergreen. Plus there tons of neat interaction patterns and deign solutions, like the app/broswer-like controls, seamless transitions between sections, sharing, the light brand touch throughout the app, and I even like the reading plans. Everything about this product is a win for me.

Kindle for Web... Kindle anything really

Kindle for webKindle for webAmazon is the best-in-class for unity so far, pushing their reading apps on all platforms. In the recent months, the site has accommodated all types of new UI tricks…. probably the most change the site has seen ever. Mostly around their modals (look inside, previews, etc). They phased in the new modal after they first appeared in the windowshop app (also available as an ipad app). And since they are now mastering visual consistency across platforms, they have rolled out the new Kindle for web… for previewing entire chapters in books. Nice simple reader that take some functionality from the desktop/mobile apps and put it in the web page. It sharable, embeddable. All around great I think. Check it out on a non-Kindle version of a book (hard cover, paperback) and click on “Read first chapter” in that green box below the other CTAs.

Joliprint is a service that turns web pages into PDFs. I personally would never use it (who needs to waste the ink & trees), but I'm really interested how they are trying to translate digital content to print. The overall design does needs a little help – lacks hierarchy and the type is just horsey… but you can see with those failures how it could easily be improved.

Readability ReaderReadability ReaderIn the same world as Joliprint is the new Readability. This might be familiar to a bunch of you, but it is the service that grew out of their Firefox plugin – simplifying the content so you actually want to read it. All around neat, since its purely a web service (mobile and desktop ready), plus it has a handy reading list feature and a great business model that supports the wiriters. I think this is for more long-form reads out there, but it is a step in the right direction.

Last but not least is Treesaver... they are trying to make HTML 5 the standard language the allows publishers to quickly deploy web-based apps to multiple platforms (desktop, mobile, tablet). They have created a system that is based on a open source JavaScript framework and some basic design templates. Just with the few examples they have, it seems pretty powerful. This hopefully means publishers can reduce inefficiencies and cost down to stay profitable in the digital space, while also keeping a step ahead of newly released devices and platforms.

Although, I think most examples still lack some visual consistency and finesse, it is worth checking out their first publications – Nomad Editions and The Center for Public Integrity. Nomad Editions are starting to release editions/magazine which can be found as on their site or as Chrome apps.

And since the list never ends, here is a bunch of other points of inspiration to look into:

A List Apart: A Simpler Page
NYTimes Reader – Interesting case to study for horizontal/vertical scrolling. (Desktop, Chrome app)
Flipboard (iPad)
Reeder (iPhone, iPad, Mac)
Feedly (iPhone & browser plugin)
FLUD (iPhone, iPad)
New Yorker Digital Editional

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