Replicating the print magazine online is lazy. But it’s probably got a lot to do with maintaining advertising revenues. ‘Virtual paper’ magazines have been doing the rounds for years and have never really worked.
Publishers don’t really understand how the web works (or rather, how to make money on the web), so try to replicate the offline magazine experience online because print ads are the only approach they understand. It’s just a coincidence that the recipe seems to work for the likes of Monkeymag.co.uk or NatMags’ jellyfishmag.com – they’re essentially offering a print mag which has pages that come alive…and they get to run the same style of print ads.
Then there’s the linear surfing issue. Do users really prefer to be forced to read content in a left to right, magazine page way? This might be handy for older users who are familiar with old media ie print magazines, newspapers, but teens have grown up with content served up in ‘surf in any order’ web pages.
These virtual mags are popular, but they can be read in 10 mins. They don’t offer deep content. Users can get lost in an archive of web pages and read for hours. Search doesn’t seem to lend itself well to virtual magazines, each of which is ringfenced and positioned as a standalone package of content.
I’d love to see the results of any user testing…