a serious shot at screen reading 03.24.2008, 8:11 AM
posted by dan visel
Another new online magazine: Triple Canopy (noted by Ed Park). Unlike Issue and Rosa B. this isn't a design magazine – although the content is very interesting – but like them, it's a serious attempt to construct a new kind of magazine for the screen-reading environment. While Rosa B.'s design uses the affordances of dynamic layering, Issue concentrates on reader annotation, Triple Canopy simply does away with the scroll bar.
Removing the scroll bar is an obvious idea for improving screen reading that's only rarely implemented: when you read text with a scroll bar (like this blog), the reader is forced to remove their concentration from the text to scroll down and then to find where the reading left off. It's something we're all quite used to, but that doesn't mean it's an advantageous reading behavior; we put up with because we rarely have a choice. Triple Canopy reverts from the scroll bar to the paged model of the codex book: if you click on the "+" sign to the right of the page, a new page slides in. It's obvious where to resume reading. The text itself is well-cared for: it's presented in columns of legible width, another lesson of print design that's too often ignored in the online world. Worth noting as well is the way that images are integrated into some of the texts; again, there's a clear and understood model for how reading works. Video can be slotted into some of the pieces without causing a disturbance or overwhelming: it appears on a page by itself, meant to be the primary focus of attention.
It's not entirely perfect: while the "+" sign always advances a page, "–" sometimes goes back a page and sometimes goes to the previous article (if clicked on the first page of the article). I wish clicking the "triplecanopy" at the bottom took you back to the issue's table of contents and not the magazine's front page. Because the site's made in HTML, the design breaks if you increase or decrease the font size in your browser. And the Powerpoint-style wipe when the pages change quickly grows tiresome. But these are minor quibbles with a design that's overwhelmingly successful. I'll be curious to see if this is sustainable over more issues.
em on March 24, 2008 7:25 PM:
Ugly design, and it scrolls on my Opera at 1024 x 768 anyway so what's the point?
Besides which, doesn't everyone have a scroll-wheel mouse these days anyway? ;)
George on March 24, 2008 8:16 PM:
Chris Meade Overleaf on March 25, 2008 12:35 PM:
I've got nothing against scrolling, but I like the clean look of this and, biggest test of all, actually found myself reading it, as opposed to admiring its baffling cleverness, which is kind of my response to issue and Rosa B, brilliant as it is to overlap content in the way they do. It's fascinating and inspiring to see these different experiments in design for online reading.