9 Annoying Things in Digital Magazines

annoying magazine

How to avoid bad reader experiences and annoying your readers? Pay more attention to usability and think about Reader Experience. There are 9 things that annoy readers.

User Experience (UX) is a really useful expression not only applicable to web, but also editorial design. I’ll use the phrase Reader Experience because we have to think of the readability and usability of interactive magazines first of all.

What annoys readers most?

1. Large Magazine Size

What does “large magazine size” mean? Is a 100 MB file large? This is a reasonable question; we should take into account the storage space of readers’ devices (the average reader has 16 or 32 GB). A reasonable size of a single issue is about
150 ± 100 MB. Huge files drive readers away from your magazine.

1. Reduce the file size of images. Use crop and resize tools, be sure all images have a screen resolution of 72 instead of a print resolution of 300 dpi.
2. Optimize video content for a tablet magazine (.mp4 format with .h264 encoding), use crop and compress tools.
3. Don’t overload the magazine. Too much interactivity slows a magazine down.
4. Add to the kiosk an “Auto Remove” button, if your publishing software provides this service.

5. Give readers an option to stream video.
Bestfit Magazine

2. Lack of Free Preview

The best way to drive away new readers is to disable the free preview.

Feast iPad Magazine Man's Style IMG_0336

1. Offer special free issue with attractive articles, information about the magazine and subscription plan.
2. Enable a free article preview. Reader will see a preview image of the articles and a purchase panel.
3. Allow readers to download one back issue for free.

3. Buy Button without a Price

vagabond magazine

Some kiosks have a buy button without a price. The reader has to tap the “buy” button to see the price. It can scare off potential readers and subscribers.

4. Mandatory Subscription

This point applies only to free magazines. Often readers must subscribe to download a free issue. It makes sense, however it’s better if readers have an idea of the magazine before subscription.

Suggestions: Enable an article preview or special issue.

5. Audio and Video Autoplay

Many years ago, lots of web pages auto played background sounds. It was a user’s nightmare. And now we can see the same widespread UX-mistake in editorial design. We should learn from web design mistakes and not use an Autoplay option ever.

Suggestions: Notify and give users an option to play the video / audio (or not).

Example: I like National Geographic’s solution. They show a full screen video frame, brief description and a “tap to begin” button – very informative.

National Geographic iPad Magazine

6. Slow Page Loading

Web users expect a website to load in less than 3 seconds, digital magazine readers expect magazine pages to load even faster.

1. Test every issue before publishing.
2. Make sure pages load quickly, otherwise remove extra interactivity and animation.
3. Rapid page flipping (settings).
4. Test a publishing tool – it might be a software bug.

7. Too much interactivity

Some magazines look like they’re designed to show all their existing features. Use interactivity reasonably to enrich content, to illustrate the article and to navigate readers. Limit the amount of interactive features per page.

8. Non-adaptive Design

No doubt, the cover is an important part. However, a lot of publishers don’t adapt covers which do not suggest readability and this can still spoil the first impression.

Suggestions: Adapt publications to required screen sizes and orientations.

Examples: Both magazines are fully interactive and landscape oriented, except the covers.
Fujifilm X Magazine U Men Magazine

9. Distracting Animation

Animation helps to draw readers’ attention. However, animated elements may distract you from the content and make content unreadable.

Solution: Use animations reasonably, don’t loop the action if it isn’t necessary.

Examples: These are 2 pages from one of my favourite free magazines. The first (left) page looks good and attracts our attention; nonetheless, a constantly flashing button makes it unreadable. The second page (right) is a looped screencast. Note the arrow in the bottom right corner. The action repeats twice and then stops; it’s enough to draw our attention.

#5 Magazine#5 Magazine

I placed these images at the end of the post hoping they won’t distract you from reading.

What annoys you? Please, leave a comment!

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