How do you make the transition from print to iPad format—especially with an established publication? AIGA DC recently welcomed Melissa Wiley, Director of Electronic Publishing at National Geographic to delve into this very topic.
Wiley led an in-depth discussion about National Geographic’s magazine design and workflow processes. Early in the presentation, we witnessed a showcase of the various interactive features that have been integrated into the iPad magazine issues. Those features include original videos, audio, web feeds, HTML5 interactive, social, and more cool stuff.
National Geographic has been able to control the design and interactivity of its publications by transitioning to Adobe Digital Publishing Suite (DPS), a relatively new system of publishing that optimizes and distributes publications for tablets (iPad, Kindle Fire, Android devices, and BlackBerry PlayBook).
Mollie Bates, senior graphic designer at National Geographic and AIGA DC 50 chair revealed how the design process works. As with many publications, it all starts with InDesign. Within InDesign CS5.5, there are tools specifically used to implement interactivity on tablet devices. These interactive tools can be accessed by going to the InDesign Windows panel>Extensions>Overlay Creator (a slew of DPS panels will open alongside this). With this tool, you are able to actually view files as it would appear on an iPad by having an Adobe CS Live account (which is free). However, if you’d like to upload the files to the iPad and monetize the publications, you’ll have to go through both Adobe and Apple’s ePublishing systems—both of which incur additional charges.
At conclusion of the presentation, Wiley provided a glimpse of the large scale, yet systematic workflow process National Geographic implements for each digital edition. The process includes a pitch, layout approval, pre-release, and final review stage—all of which go through serious vetting. Although the print and digital editions share the same information, they are actually designed separately. Also, designers are required to come up with interactive, video, and audio ideas for the tablet editions.
Overall, this discussion revealed the transition process from the print to the interactive tablet format is not simple and requires tweaking to see what process works best. Designers are increasingly encouraged to think beyond print possibilities and to explore how to make a story come to life in a variety of formats.
Want more info? Check out these links:
Adobe Digital Publishing Suite
National Geographic magazine (digital edition)
K. Bisola Momoh is a program coordinator for AIGA DC and can be reached at bisola(at)aigadc(dot)org.