New iBook – iPad Design Lab: Storytelling in the Age of the Tablet

In the field of newspaper design, Dr. Mario Garcia is a bit of a legend. Having worked on more than 500 projects including working with some of the biggest news organizations in the World, such as Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and Die Zeit, his experience and expertise is unparalleled.

As I started working on the OC Register iPad strategy, I became an avid reader of Mario’s blog. You see, Mario “got it” early on. He knew that the iPad would open new doors of opportunity and the time was ripe to start experimenting with this new and exciting canvas.

So, it’s very fitting what started as individual blog posts about iPad design now has become a full-fledged, multi-touch iBook (buy it in iTunes) dedicated to the exploration of tablet design for news apps.

Mario describes his book as a

“digital book for our times, whether you are a reporter, editor, designer, teacher, student, or just a tablet user with curiosity about strategies that lead to good storytelling in this marvelous new platform.”

Check out the intro video:

The book is chockfull of good information. Really, it should be required reading for anyone in news and content industries just starting to explore the tablet canvas. Mario covers these topics in the book: Storytelling, Navigation, Look & Feel, Pop-Ups, Advertising, Economics, and Media Quartet.

Of course, true to his tablet design beliefs, the book has an abundance of photo slide shows, audio and video files, hyper links, and much more. But the multi-media never get in the way of the written words. Fortunately, words still play an important part in the New World.

I’m honored to have contributed a case study for the book in the form of video interviews with my fellow colleagues at Next Issue on topics ranging from introducing Next Issue to talking about creating navigation paradigms for digital magazines. Case studies are a big part of the book by the way. And that’s great. We are all learning and experimenting together.

Congratulations Mario on a great and educational book! (Also congrats to Reed, who I know worked very hard as editor and art director on the book).

Buy iPad Design Lab in iTunes for $9.99 (you can get a sample for free too)

Must have apps for kids

A couple of weeks ago, I presented my must have apps. Now it’s my son’s turn. It’s only fair; he uses my iPad just as much as I do. Actually, he went somewhat viral at a young age based on this video (read the article here: PC World):

Viggo is now three and a half years old. We sit down every evening to pick out a book app to read. Here are his favorites. Please leave a comment and let me know which new apps we should pick up:

Below you will find descriptions and download links. The apps are sorted from most interactive to least. Each app passes my test for easy navigation that doesn’t interrupt the story: Continue reading

My must have apps for iPad

Ask me which apps I recommend for the iPad and I’ll talk passionately for hours (well at least 20 minutes) about the apps you simply cannot live without. I’m willing to listen too. As a matter of fact, the majority of my apps have come by way of recommendation from friends.

So, here’s the deal. I’ll share then you’ll share. Please leave a comment at the end and let me know what your favorite apps are.

The select few

Although I have filled all my 11 screens with apps (I don’t really like putting my apps in folders), I always come back to a select few. The same does my 3-year-old son, Viggo. The apps I use the most are clustered on a couple of screens and his are collected in another area. Let’s explore my favorite apps in this post. Then, for all the parents out there, Viggo will follow up with his favorite apps next week (read here). Check out links and descriptions below the image.

Continue reading

What is Next Issue all about?

Haven’t really talked about my day-time job at Next Issue too much on this blog, but here’s an opportunity to share. In a nutshell, we offer enhanced editions of the world’s most popular magazines, optimized for tablets.

At CES last week, I had the pleasure to be interviewed by Ian Hamilton, my former colleague from OC Register and writer for the OC Unwired blog. In the interview we discuss where Next Issue fits in the digital publishing space. Specifically, Ian asks why we are focusing on Android tablets. Check out my answer to that and my pointers on what makes Next Issue unique. We are just getting started and 2012 will be an exciting year for us. Stay tuned for more news.

Let me know what you think of the video.

Check out Ian’s blog post here.

One Week Into Launch of News iPad App: What’s the Feedback?

We are one week into the soft launch of the new Orange County Register iPad app (download), and the feedback is starting to flow in. Good and bad.

From the outset, we had the feeling the product we are developing would not be for everyone. We are distinctively aiming for an audience interested in a curated, highly designed lean-back experience. It is an experience that perhaps won’t appeal to a so-called “news junkie.”  A study conducted about The Daily revealed that they face such a dilemma. “Light” readers love the app while “heavy” readers are skeptical. (I wrote about that here prior to launch.)

For us it is still early, but there are indicators our readers are divided into two camps also. There are those who love the easy navigation, the focus on photos and design, the high use of multimedia. And then there are those who are not satisfied with one complete evening edition (we publish at 6pm) spiced up with some RSS feeds throughout the day. Personally, I can certainly relate to both camps.

Below, I have tried to organize and respond to the feedback received from April 19 through April 26. The feedback is gathered from Twitter, Facebook, iTunes, blogs and emails. I hope you will take the time to leave your comments at the end as well. Continue reading

Tablet Strategies for Publishers: Framework for Content and Form

Last week the first study (download here) about The Daily was released. The study, released by KnowDigital, included some interesting findings, most noticeably it identified two sets of users: Light readers and Heavy readers.

The primary conclusion was that in its current form, The Daily appeals primarily to the Light reader, whereas the product falls short of expectations for the Heavy reader. The Light reader, more so than the Heavy reader, appreciates a curated, layered experience and is impressed with all the bells and whistles.

Reading the study made me think, does this research apply at the local level? After all, on the one hand, The Daily competes in a space filled with commodity news readily available everywhere on the Internet. We, on the other hand, differentiate ourselves with community based news and information. It can be argued that because of our local focus, we will be able to appeal to both Light and Heavy readers.

With that caveat in mind, below I tried to create a framework for evaluating Content and Form strategies. In addition to using the Know Digital study as a guide, I also borrowed three of the four pillars described in a study created by Jake Batsell from Southern Methodist University. Continue reading

Tablet Product Strategy Revealed (VIDEO)

We are about two weeks away from launch of our newest app for the Orange County Register and I finally have something cool to show. We put together a little demo video showing what the app will look like. Check it out and let me know what you think:

The app is a product of many months of hard work from a team of people from across departments. The content is managed in our current CMS NewsGate from CCI and exported to Woodwing’s Pro App Reader.

We will publish a designed and interactive edition every weekday and Saturday at 6pm. Each edition will consist of up to 60 stories curated from the Orange County Register’s newsroom, third party content providers as well as unique stories made specifically for the iPad. In addition, each edition will include a highly interactive magazine-like feature story. The app will also include a breaking news widget, some RSS feeds, weather and traffic widgets.

Just recently, President for Freedom Interactive, Doug Bennett, presented our tablet strategy at MediaXchange. You can download the full presentation here. I thought I would elaborate a bit below about our thinking behind the strategy. Let me know what you think. Continue reading

The Orange County Register to launch new iPad app (VIDEO)

Almost there. Over the past six months we have been hard at work, gearing up for the launch of our new Ipad app. I truly believe we are pushing the envelope for what a news product should look like on the iPad. We have looked at how iPad owners use their devices and when they use it. We have researched what our peers are doing and what they are not doing. In particular, we have looked at what magazines look like on the iPad rather than newspapers. I was reminded of a quote I saw in an ad in Rolling Stone Magazine.

Modified a bit it describes how we see the iPad experience:

You surf on the Web. You swim in iPads.

I can’t wait to show you the results of our labor. We are planning to launch end of March. In my next post I will share some of the research that helped us define our product strategy. For now, here’s a little video that explains some of the thinking behind our product. For more info, visit www.ocregister.com/ipad. Read the official press release here.