UX of the Wired iPad App

I got the wired iPad app the other week, and I can't tell you how great I think this thing is from a UX perspective (as well as reading the magazine). At the time I got it I was a little concerned over the price, and that you had to buy each issue as I'm already a subscriber and why should I have to pay again? Also, others had complained about the 500MB size the download is. I thought that was kind of weird too, until I started reading, and INTERACTING with the magazine.

Yes, this app creates a dynamic interactive world where you manipulate the articles instead of just read them. There are many surprises as you move through the articles (and advertisements, which I'm not bothered by at all in this app). So, I felt this required a post explaining my experience.

When you start the app, you are presented with a graphical front page of all the issues you have on the iPad. This shows the current (as of writing):

You can do the usual left/right swipes to see the covers of all the issues. What I thought was neat with when you go landcape... You get an alternate cover!

Already we have extra content above the print version.

To read, you then press 'View' and you are presented with the cover of the selected issue full screen. This interface then allows you to swipe left/right to move throughout the magazine. The following shows a few successive swipes to the left:

Flick left, an ad (and there is another after this one which I omit):

Note the "note" in the ad there the is more if you rotate; we'll see this shortly.

Skipped an ad, and now the TOC:

Not with the TOC there there is a small vertical position marker on the side showing you the overall amount of the "article" that you are currently viewing. Flicking the article up and down lets you move through out it.

Not an important thing here over the use of the print media: multipage articles are a part of a single scrollable UX. This is very nice.

Now, one thing to note here too is that all of these pages (if they can be called that) have landscape versions also. If you rotate the ipad and flick through the content you will see the following (I'll omit the TOC - it's the same but wider):

The cover (kind of saw this before - but also note the "play" button - more shortly):

And now notice the ad for Weeds is different, and this one also has buttons to take you to video - cool!

But let's go back to the cover and click on that play button, and up comes a video embedded in the digital magazine that is made just for the article! Try with with a print magazine!

This embedding of rich content is very pervasive and makes for an experience that just blows away the print magazine. And it also explains the size of the download, so don't fret as you are getting so much more for your money. The extra for the digital version and the size is really worth it, unlike other magazines that force you to fork over extra for the print version.

Now let's look at how you navigate around the issues. If you tap anywhere on any page you will get a bar that comes up on the top of the screen that contains some icons.

The house takes you back to the issue list (the first capture of this post). The second icon gives you a vertical overlay of the articles on the left of the UI:

So I click on Max Headroom and I'm taken directly to the article:

Now suppose I click on the right most icon. This brings up what I think is a much more useful (and I'll have to say I think unique) way of navigating the issue. It gives you a horizontal list of all the articles and ads that you can swipe through, with each consuming a single vertical column. The article in the center has detail information displayed on the top of the ipad. This is really great for navigation, skimming summary, and also in giving you a quick visual representation of the overall size of the article.

So swiping over to the main article, you can see that there are multiple sub articles and that all have some length to them. And again with the pervasiveness of embedded video, you can even see here that these sections each contain videos that are augmentation to the print version.

This is just really nice design in my opinion.

One last thing before I finish. I found one other easter egg, and I'm sure there are others. It's in the article titled 'Ode to the BFG':

Nice gun - can't wait to play with it in Halo Reach. But wait. You can rotate this in 360 degrees by swiping it! Try that in the magazine!

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About the author

I'm a .NET, XAML, and iOS polyglot that loves playing with new things and making cool and innovative stuff.  I am also a Mac junkie.

I am Principal Technologist for SunGard Global Services in NYC, in their Advanced Technologies practice, and I work extensively with SunGard's energy and financial customers.

Note the the posting on this blog are my own and do not represent the position, strategies or opinions of SGS.

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