Interview with Wired’s creative director

Wired staff spent months developing its new iPad app, which 
become Apple’s best-selling app just hours after its May 26 launch. Loud Cloud’s Joshua Gorchov interviewed creative
director Scott Dadich
about going digital and why they ditched
page-turning sounds and page numbers all-together.
Wired's iPad app
Faced with a new medium, Dadich and his team had to come up with a new vocabulary to fit. It also had to find a new way to approach layout: how do you make all the pages fit together as intended? Wired‘s answer: each issue features a storyboard layout of the pages, so readers can see how many screens (or “stacks”) the magazine has alloted to each story or section.

Dadich told Gorchov: “…it was definitely a case of tearing apart the magazine. We did a redesign of a good portion of the magazine, and tried to find ways to simplify some of the print edition so we would have more time to focus on digital.”

Gorchov points out that it was “gratifying” to see Wired didn’t try to mimic the feel of reading a paper magazine. Below is an excerpt from the interview. You can read the full interview here.

JD: You didn’t use digital metaphors like the little page-turning animations that a lot of early digital magazines used, and actually the iTunes bookstore did end up using. You also let go of the spread, which is a key component of a magazine, and you even did away with page numbers. . . . Was it hard to see beyond that history and the typical magazine framework, and still work with the readers’ expectations?”

SD: That’s been at the front of my mind, even going back to my earliest thoughts about this years ago, but more concretely last year when I started to talk about it with [Wired editor Chris Anderson].

“We started to see this dilemma a little bit with the iPhone, the way web pages were being displayed in Mobile Safari before people started doing mobile-specific sites. For example, the New York Times homepage was never designed to be viewed on a screen 320 pixels wide.

“It’s the same thing with these digital magazine metaphors, things like Zinio and a lot of the desktop clients that were trying to create a digital magazine experience—the page-flip metaphor is sort of silly because that’s an artifact of gluing two pieces of paper together. Yes, people understand it, but just because it’s familiar doesn’t mean it’s the best solution. Clearly, digital magazines on the desktop have not taken off. I think that’s largely because they haven’t been well executed thus far. I think we’ve got some solutions to get around that.

JG: It almost takes the reader more effort to use that fake page-turning thing.

SD: I don’t find it a particularly compelling model.

“Spreads are a beautiful thing and I think one of my favorite parts of designing a print magazine. That conversation between two images or between words and pictures…I will never get tired of that. But in this model it’s just not appropriate, but there are new ways to have those conversations.”