So, thanks to our colleague Karen Green in Chicago, we received an iPad today in the office mail.
After finding a workaround for the fact the the German Appstore doesn’t work for the iPad yet, we started playing around a bit. Apart of noticing how crappy iPhone apps look on the iPad, there are some first observations.
First off, the device is pretty amazing and we can see how it has the power to alter a lot of human behavior. But in the first moments, it’s not changing behaviors radically, it’s augmenting them. Funnily, when you use it to read magazines and newspaper apps, you revert to analog user behavior. The interesting thing is that it becomes a combination of your analog user behavior with digital interaction expectations. What this means is that User Experience professional are designing for both kinds of worlds when it comes to magazine apps. Seems pretty obvious, but when you start playing around with it you also notice a lot of gaps between those two different ways of usage. So it will be a matter of how well XPs and Designers fill that gap. You no longer do print layout or interaction design. You will have to know how to both without compromises for the print type medium and the weblike medium.
Case in point: we feel the NYT App works with much more expectation conformity than the Popular Science App. It works like a newspaper except it has some interactive elements. Even the contained advertising isn’t at all surprising or weird to the user. It’s what you would expect from a newspaper with the cachet of NYT. Like any good user experience, you don’t notice how great the usability is. It however needs a little more interactive stuff at the right place.
The popular science application however, doesn’t really quite seem what it is yet. It looks amazing, but it has an odd usage paradigm that is neither analog nor interactive nor an easy to use amalgam of both. From navigating to flipping pages and a lack of real interactivity to not being able to differentiate the advertising, it just doesn’t feel there yet.
So, I am sure web User Experience heuristics will apply for the iPad as well, but they will also radically alter. Maybe heuristics will be created for types of magazines in similar ways that different heuristics have been developed for differing types of sites, i.e. e-commerce sites vs news portals vs social networks. Finding that right user experience will probably go a long way in terms of really working for a unique brand experience that helps position the brand.
Second, apart from the obvious changes need to develop applications for private end users, when you look at this through the lens of the brand or marketing person, you get tons of ideas instantly on how to make brands relevant in this context. The long touted “brand user experience” can really happen here with the best of all media channel worlds. Also an interesting thought might be on whether the user experience paradigm of whatever eMagazine you advertise in influences your ad experience. Since ads can be interactive, their interactivity might have to embedded into the magazine’s usage paradigm to really work. Spinning cars in automobile ads are nice, but there’s probably more. Or, of course it will need to be so special that you want to interact with it regardless. The potential of print ads with stopping power: it might be back.
Third, not just that, while we believe private end users will probably keep the iPad at home (because, let’s be honest: it is NOT a working tool for the types of thing we need to do at the office, barring some exceptions), the possibilities for specific industries literally lie in your hand. Really anyone who could directly profit from bridging a analog-digital gap or augmenting existing processes and information flows will have a field day with this: car dealers, retailers, logistics, restaurants, you name it. Not just for marketing, but also internal processes. And, of course marketing departments of all types of industries will not pass this up to do their name generation, promos, etc with it.
So, while it might take some time to become mainstream, it looks like exciting times for everyone. Designers get to design in a new way, marketers to market in a new way and newspapers can survive with a new type of advertising again. Almost to good to be true.
We will do some user testing on it and report back.