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Creative Direction of Tablets Gives Publishers Pause

When designing a magazine app for a tablet, is it best for it to be simple or complicated? The answer to that question is giving companies plenty to think about. Adweek reports that while some publishing houses claimed readers want their apps pared down, others felt that would be a step in the wrong direction.

Authorities at Time and Hearst explained that the KISS principle is the best approach. Steve Sachs, Time’s Executive Vice President of Consumer Marketing and Sales, said, “Interactive elements are valuable to [readers], but they’re a secondary benefit.” Chris Wilkes, the Vice President of Hearst’s App Lab agreed, and added that if an app has too many extras they could end up annoying readers.

Scott Dadich, the Executive Director of Digital Magazine Development at Condé Nast, didn’t see it that way at all. “It’s more effort, it’s more expense, but it does bear out in engagement,” said Dadich. “Something like a GQ, seeing models on a fashion shoot, or seeing the clothes move — there’s definitely value in that.” In line with Dadich’s thinking, the highest rated apps are often those that are also thoroughly enhanced.

While both views have their merits, the best answer to “simple or complicated?” is a vague one: Well, it depends. Publishers need to understand that there is no blanket way of dealing with the creative feel of apps, and the right move is to deal with each brand individually. Sure, seeing models gyrate (that’s what they do, right?) on GQ is great, but does The New Yorker need to animate its terrible cartoons? Probably not.

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