PDF In-Depth

The Tablet: What it means for publishing

It's back to the future with page-oriented design



Advertising had become harder and harder to place on web-pages while retaining both eyeballs and a feeling of quality. The tablet form-factor (essentially a combination of screen shape, size and resolution) facilitates print-style display advertising with minimal impact on reader acceptance. Part of what's so great about the tablet is precisely that it facilitates a combination of old-school design skills with the laser-like targeting of the modern web.

As the great magazine and newspaper publishers of the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s knew, in a properly laid-out page, good display advertising need not offend the typical eye. Most modern websites, replete with generic templates and soulless style-sheets, don't come close in terms of making advertising appear as part of the editorial presentation.

The advertising in the (printed) New York Times fills a heavy proportion of the page area, certainly compared to a quality information-oriented website. Even full-page ads (the paper equivalent of a screen-grabbing pop-up) are part of the mental territory, which is why many still-successful magazines include 30-50% (or more) ad pages. This "content" is accepted, even associated, with the publication in which it appears; the entire package has value.

Layout can accomplish that, and that's why layout and graphic design are skills to watch in the tablet era. Publishers are (or used to be) familiar with graphic design. Having largely failed to understand and benefit from the seismic changes since Netscape went public 16 years ago, publishers have an entirely new opportunity to reclaim the eyeballs and revenues that have gone astray since. Reconsider and adapt your CMS-driven link farms! With a re-awakening of page--by-page layout and design, the modern era of human-aided design is at hand!

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