The graphic designer's guide to interactive design

From InDesign to iPad

There are many ways to publish tablet apps from the DTP application of your choice. Here we chart the leading tools that print-based creatives can gain tablet design experience with, without replacing their existing software. To publish apps, you’ll also need an Apple developer account (which costs $99 per year), and Apple will take 30 per cent of any proceeds from your app.

Adobe Digital Publishing Suite

Contact: Adobe,
Creative application: InDesign CS5.5
Publishing pricing: Single Edition, $395 per app; Professional Edition $495 per month, plus yearly service fee of $5,500 to $60,000 depending on downloads

Adobe’s Digital Publishing System is the longest-standing tablet publishing system and fully integrated into InDesign CS5.5. It is also, for now, the only solution offering Android app creation (useful to publish apps for the forthcoming Amazon Kindle Fire). DPS has the most complete set of interactive tools, supporting hyperlinks, slideshows, panning and zooming of images, video, audio, and content drawn in from the web via feeds. The entry-level Single Edition has a set per-app fee, but those regularly creating editions of a magazine will need to use the Professional Edition and pay a per-download fee.


Contact: Mag+,
Creative application: InDesign CS5/5.5
Publishing pricing: $2,500 per app (with five months of free publishing of new issues), then $500 per issue or $500 per month for unlimited issues

The Mag+ workflow takes a while to get your head around, as it layers interactive elements over your page design rather than integrating them – and part of the process of creating elements requires using the Mag+ website (see our tutorial on page 54 for more info). Once you’ve got to grips with this though, it’s really quite efficient at producing interactive pages. Originally developed by Swedish publisher Bonnier, Mag+ is a free download that includes an InDesign plug-in and other tools.

Aquafadas Digital Publishing System

Contact: Aquafadas,
Creative application: InDesign CS5/5.5
Publishing pricing: €100-€1,000 per app, depending on number of titles included; €39.30-€280 per issue depending on number of issues per year

In some ways, Aquafadas’s Digital Publishing System is the simplest solution for creating apps, as it uses a series of wizards to build elements such as slideshows – though some creatives may find this restrictive. It comes as a plug-in for InDesign and is currently Mac-only and iPad-only, though support for Windows PCs and for creating Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone apps is expected soon. However, Quark is on the lookout for acquisitions and Aquafadas, whose software underpins Quark’s own App Studio, is a natural target – which puts a little question mark over the future of Aquafadas’s system.

Quark App Studio

Contact: Quark,
Creative application: QuarkXPress 9.1
Publishing pricing: £95-£499 per app, depending on number of titles; £36.40-£255 per issue, depending on number of issues per year; unlimited licence for newspapers £14,499 per year

Quark’s App Studio is essentially the Aquafadas Digital Publishing System rebranded. That said, it’s very well integrated with QuarkXPress – so if you’re a Quark user you’ll be up and creating apps in no time. Alongside scrollable layouts, video, audio, web overlays and slideshows, it boasts innovative functions such as the ability to synchronise content between portrait and landscape versions of layouts. We also like the ability to make images ‘pop out’ to full screen so you can see them in all their glory – which is bound to be popular with fashion mags and advertising material.

Rolling out digital Wallpaper*

Art director Meirion Pritchard on taking the famous brand from page to screen

Wallpaper* hit the iPad in July, with Apple’s device both limiting and providing opportunities for the team. “There was a lot of testing,” says Meirion Pritchard. “seeing if typefaces used in print would draw nicely on screen, and at what sizes. Icons and language were key, as was keeping it looking like a Wallpaper* product.”

Many would consider the use of video and audio to be big opportunities for magazines transitioning to apps, but Pritchard argues being freed from space constraints is an even bigger boon. “There are no real page constraints on the iPad, so stories limited by space in the printed version can expand to their fullest potential.” He says the team puts tons of effort into shooting photos worldwide, and with images displayed full-screen on the iPad, they could use images and content not in the print edition, as appropriate. “We also use contextual elements to back up or explain a story, which you simply can’t do in print.”

The suggestion is that print designers should think bigger, despite the iPad’s 9.7-inch screen looking restrictive. However, Pritchard says it’s sensible to retain some similarities with print. “Our system uses the same principles as a magazine grid, keeping identity between print and digital consistent”. It also makes sense to test how readers interact with your app: “Some people know how to use their tablets, but others don’t so much and may miss interactive components. Conventions are still being tested, so the challenge is to make your app as intuitive as reading print, without being patronising.”

In working on the Wallpaper* app, the team took advantage of not being restricted by page counts and paper dimensions. Extra images can easily be integrated via interactive galleries.

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