Tag Archives: ipad

Bed, knee and breakfast: designing for the iPad

Bed, knee and breakfast: the Bibliotype template

Craig Mod has written a lengthy and well-informed piece on A List Apart about the problems of designing for the iPad and other “browser”-based interfaces. He makes some particularly important points about the differences between products which have a spine as the “axis of symmetry” (e.g. books, magazines), and digital products where the axis is hard to place:

“If the axis of symmetry for a book is the spine, where is it on an iPad? On one hand, designers can approach tablets as if they were a single sheet of “paper,” letting the physicality of the object define the central axis of symmetry—straight down the middle.

“On the other hand, the physicality of these devices doesn’t represent the full potential of content space. The screen becomes a small portal to an infinite content plane, or “infinite canvas,” as so well illustrated by Scott McCloud.”

The core of his article is a design template for long form tablet reading, for which Mod breaks tablet reading distances into three main categories: Bed, Knee, and Breakfast

  • “Bed (Close to face): Reading a novel on your stomach, lying in bed with the iPad propped up on a pillow.
  • “Knee (Medium distance from face): Sitting on the couch or perhaps the Eurostar on your way to Paris, the iPad on your knee, catching up on Instapaper.
  • “Breakfast (Far from face): The iPad, propped up by the Apple case at a comfortable angle, behind your breakfast coffee and bagel, allowing for handsfree news reading as you wipe cream cheese from the corner of your mouth.”

An image of the template in action is shown above. It’s released under the MIT licence.

Although the article is written with ebooks in mind, the principles can obviously also be applied to magazine and news apps. Worth a read.

The iPad magazine cover – lovely, but pointless

VIV Mag Motion Cover – iPad Demo from Alexx Henry on Vimeo.

The bit of spectacular video above is doing the rounds as I type – a mock-up/demo of how a “motion magazine cover” might work on an iPad.

It’s lovely. But pointless.

What does it prove? It proves that magazines could do spectacular things with the iPad. It is, essentially, an advert masquerading as a magazine cover.

But then, magazine covers have always been adverts for their contents – and it’s a curiously old-media approach to focus so much energy on the front cover when, online, the majority of users typically never touch your homepage (will the iPad change that? I’m sceptical).

In fact, I wonder if a user on the bus would grow impatient with such an overblown introduction to their magazine.

It reminds me of those Flash-heavy ‘splash pages‘ that websites used to employ to impress users – but which ultimately ended up frustrating them.

So it’s lovely, but it doesn’t solve any fundamental problems publishing faces right now. The iPad ain’t no silver bullet: the old problems haven’t gone away – an oversupply of information, oversupply of ad space, and a proliferation of alternatives to spend our entertainment budget on.

If anything, the iPad is a silver bullet to the head: with Apple keeping hold of user data, and insisting on the lion’s share of cover sale revenue, publishers are not going to be queueing up to join their gated paradise.