The Times' iPad app has won praise for a range of interactive graphics simply not possible with traditional print media, showcasing the potential Apple's tablet device clearly offers publishers. With plans for Australian-born American media magnate Rupert Murdoch to launch a new digital only newspaper, Digital Arts caught up with the team -- including Paul Kettle -- behind many of The Times striking graphics.
Hoxton Square, London-based design studio Applied Works has so far created graphics covering the 'The Wall of Debt,' World Cup, 'Health of England' and 70 anniversary of the Battle of Britain.
Q. What does Apple’s iPad offer designers and creatives?
A marriage of digital and print-like experiences is one aspect that makes the iPad an intriguing new platform for designers, because users instinctively know how to navigate, shifting the focus away from 'navigation' and allowing content to flourish. The fingertip gestures used to navigate the iPad only require subtle hints in the design, creating an intuitive experience more akin to turning the pages of a magazine. It’s a total re-think when compared with UI design for the web - staying true to the iPad’s behavioural system is essential in retaining usability, and littering the page with call-outs, menus and sign-posting will only confuse the experience.
The focus on content has sparked the imagination of clients and consumers. Many people are now thinking about taking content that already exists and bringing a new lease of life to it, as well as creating new content entirely for iPad.
Q. Prior to the iPad would they be a suitable platform for similar graphics?
For a long time there’s been a market for immersive, engaging content similar to what we’re now experiencing with the iPad. But with the advent of HTML5 and CSS3, we’re able to make these experiences more fluid and accessible – while the graphics themselves feel so much more responsive in the palm of your hand. It’s also great to see designs starting out on the iPad and then being tweaked for the web – this is adding a new dimension to online graphics.
We’re finding that – naturally – publishers and advertisers are seeing the benefits of the iPad experience, taking the opportunity to make detailed content more engaging and fun. Creating apps is one thing, but it’s bringing the content within the app to life that is becoming crucial to retaining interest levels.
Q. And how does the iPad graphics differ from those you might find online?
Primarily the difference is in designing for touch navigation in place of mouse, and to a lesser extent the advantages of designing to two fixed aspect ratios (portrait and landscape) rather than the multitude of different monitor sizes you have to cater for with the desktop web.