Virgin Digital Publishing Limited recently released an ad-driven issue of their iPad-only magazine, Project. My uncle, adamant that I needed to experience it, encouraged me to borrow an iPad from a friend of mine at work. I took a look one afternoon this past week during my lunch break. I started up the app to be welcomed by one of the most dynamic movie-covers I have ever seen. It came alive, much like the photographs of a Potter-ly newspaper, only it was Jeff Bridges walking about the screen and not some nutter in a pointy hat. I was utterly captivated to say the least, and completely determined to explore it thoroughly.
Project is masterfully woven from its digital layout to dynamic content, providing an unparalleled reading experience. Every article is formatted for vertical navigation—each panel loaded with content fitted specifically for the iPad screen. This creative design alone sets Project apart from most other digital-zines because it is not translated from a print layout nor requires scrolling or any chopping-up of the original content.
Looking past the traditional navigation bar, Project is uniquely equipped with a few one-touch features that embody the true capabilities of transmedia storytelling. They are really engaging, without being disruptive to the reading experience or usability of the app.
- “Action buttons” are very obvious blips throughout a panel and make much of the content interactive or playable—launching video vignettes, rotating models, or audio clips.
- “Numbered Buttons” and gallery swipes make it easy to scroll through images without changing the panel layout or dominating the screen in a shadow box.
- “Hot Spots” act as one-touch sidebars that pull-up additional information or hidden photos. They are especially useful when examining aspects of the issue’s featured advertisements. I was able to explore the Jaguar C-X75 from the inside-out, hear the roar of it’s hybrid engine, and spin a model of the vehicle.
- “The Spine” includes some really cool transmedia functions that expand the experience beyond the magazine.
- “The Forum” is a bulls-eye icon that flips every panel to a forum page that corresponds with each article. This conveniences readers with the ability to discuss that article straight from the app without losing their place in the magazine or specific panel of the article.
- “The Plus Panel” is a pullout tab that provides web links to external websites related to the content of that article. It’s a great way to extend the reading and dig deeper into the subject matter of each story.
The functionality isn’t the only thing the magazine has going for it either. The articles and segments fully embrace the tablet’s digital capabilities. Their “On the Ground” section, features interactive 3D maps of major cities that are explored through mini expert columns. The “hot spots” and galleries allow for deeper exploration, peeling away layers of a neighborhood and sharing the favorite dives and treasures of the writers. I believe these segments are created in collaboration with Lonely Planet.
The features and interactive content provided me with quite the dynamic experience. Before I knew it, my 30-minute lunch break turned into an hour recess of just toying around with the issue. I even discovered that the magazine has a completely separate layout fitted for landscape orientation—some of the panels awarding me with alternate content just for holding the iPad differently.