Helping Adobe bring digital publishing to the iPad.
CLIENT: Adobe, Condé Nast
DATE: March 2010 – February 2011
MY ROLE: Experience Designer
Back in late 2009, print content was pronounced dead. Subscriptions were in decline. Magazines were hurting for revenue. And ad sales were way down. There was no iPad yet, but consumers had expectations for more dynamic experiences around content. It was the wild west of digital publishing ready for disruption.
How could Adobe bring the fit and finish of a high-end print magazine to the iPad while scaling the experience to meet the deadline-driven needs of a busy print publication?
It was initially very slow going (the dev team had to port the entire app over from Flash to Objective-C in less than 5 weeks when support for Flash on iOS was withdrawn by Apple), but the final product—with lots of snazzy features such as in-magazine video/audio playback, slideshows, image pans, and panoramas—was heralded a great success. The released app shot up to the number-one paid slot the week of its release and sold 24,000 copies in the first 24 hours, generating nearly $84,000 for its publisher Condé Nast.
So Adobe, maker of the industry-standard for desktop publishing—InDesign—decided to disrupt, with a new digital publishing platform based on InDesign CS5. A partnership was brokered with Condé Nast's WIRED for content—an excellent choice given WIRED's tech-savvy audience and high design aesthetic. I have a prior career as a print designer and I know InDesign exceptionally well. I was brought as an experience designer to help craft the authoring experience and also work with the print designers at WIRED to troubleshoot workflow issues.
Adobe's Digital Publishing Suite is now a mature product that lets customers design, prepare and package an unlimited number of interactive iPad apps for delivery to the Apple App Store, using InDesign. With Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite, users can quickly generate fully-interactive apps along the same lines, taking advantage of the built-in support for rich multimedia, as well as HTML5.
Because of my background in publication and print design—particularly within the Indesign ecosystem, I was invited to join the team as a consulting experience designer. I worked closely with graphic designers at WIRED and the internal team of designers, developers, and producers at Adobe to help create app builds on the iPad for testing. This consisted of using the beta toolset to build interactive content such as touch-enabled slideshows, 360° panoramas, and video players. It was a lot of work on a very tight deadline but it was definitely one of my career highlights.