The share interfaces on newspaper or magazine websites are probably the most frequently used interfaces on these sites. Sharing something with your friends has become so common that we do it every day… every minute… every second. So maybe it would be interesting to have a look at how these small but very important interfaces are constructed and what makes the good ones good and the bad ones bad.
The first example (top picture, first column left) is from the website of the Washington Post. The Washington Post is a great and also very important newspaper as it is in a position to feel the pulse of one of the world’s most influential capitals everyday. However, when it comes to the sharing options on their page they are design-wise not really at the highest possible evolutionary stage. The inconsistency and randomness in the design of the buttons not only is a problem for itself but contributes to the overall clutteredness of the page.
Second in our evolutionary ladder is the sharing interface of www.nytimes.com. It is more structured and is kept in monochrome colors which gives it a clean look and makes it a less-cluttering element that integrates well into the page.
Considering all this we asked ourselves what we could do to climb one more step in the evolutionary process of creating a more simple sharing interface that makes a very clear but non-disturbing impression to the user. And we actually believe to have found the holy grail: ONE large button subtly colored, with a plus sign on it. On mouse-over a menu with all options a user would ever desire slides down elegantly. Then, if the user moves his mouse off the button again, the page immediately looks like it was never touched before.
We would love to hear your feedback on this.
Many were expecting the iPad to be a revolutionary device. And it is! For Books, Movies, Games, Music, Apps… and so on. The expectation that Apple would come up with a solution for Newspapers and Magazines to monetize on their content, however, was not met. Why?
Well, what is exactly the concept of the Apple iTunes Store? Isn’t it, that they sell entertainment content that has some kind of timeless value? All that is sold on the iTunes store is something which I would potentially re-consume my whole live, Songs, Movies and now Books (iBooks to be precise). Newspapers and Magazines can not be sold in the iTunes store for a good reason: they would have the same problem as their print equivalents. Nobody would pay $0.99 for a static newspaper, that is from yesterday. And even though a magazine could potentially be interesting a little longer than 24 hours, it basically faces the same problem. So is that it for newspapers and magazines? Not at all!
The web couldn’t possibly be a better place for them. It has the potential to make a periodical not a periodical anymore but a “real-time newspaper”. The word NEWS - PAPER would become true in its most basic sense, it would show news, news from now. Another important point is that the web could make newspapers and magazines so much more interactive. Isn’t it unbelievable that some print journals do polls while there are no polls on the newspapers’ websites? But this is just a very small thing among much more bigger things. The key-factor is how content is organised and displayed. But before we go into that let’s have a look at how magazine and newspaper publishers got into the whole “Internet-thing”
So the newspapers and magazines where used to do their print-stuff for some 400 years. Then all of a sudden the internet came up and caught the publishers on the wrong foot. Of course they set-up websites, but they were not young tech-freaks - so what idea did they have about the web anyway? The problem seems to be that journalists are journalists and not geeks that would bother about cool functions and designs of their websites - however, some other guys did: the bloggers, twitterers, facebookers, to name a few. Why do people read blogs? Because the interface is better, time-based, non-cluttered and simple to use. Because the design is beautiful and definitely not as exhausting as the over-cluttered newspaper or magazine websites. Yeah, blogging is great! It’s simple, cool and community orientated.
So back to the newspapers and magazines. For the said reasons apple cannot provide them a good solution. The only way for newspapers and magazines to become successful again, is to understand the web and then even go steps ahead of what is out there today. This means news are news from now and they have to be organised topic- and time-based. Another thing is, that users would love to have a more uniform way to read newspapers. Instead of logging in to, say, 2…3 or 5 different websites (who does that anyway?) users want to comment things right-away, bookmark their favourite articles and discuss things with their friends (as they do in YouTube for example). It would also be great if users would get news that are interesting specifically and individually according to his or her interests.
At TouchWeb we have spent almost one year creating a website that does all that and takes newspapers and magazines to the next level. We asked ourselves as users, how should a newspaper or magazine website be, so that we would love to use it. And that’s what PaperNow is all about, reading the news the way we like it.
Yes, the newspapers and magazines have to change if they want to be successful on the web. They definitely have to go this extra-mile to satisfy a young and spoiled blogger/twitter/facebook/youtube - Audience. And we’ve built the platform that enables them to do so.
…check out our work at