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Publications large and small are looking to the iPad as a way to revolutionize digital content consumption. But one potential flaw in their iPad strategy is the issue of price. Many publishers are charging for their newly revamped mobile products, sometimes prohibitively.
However, many lessons from iPad design apply to products outside the mobile market. The iPad is proof that the presentation and navigation of digital content can be much better. And as Gawker is hoping to prove in the near future, improving the digital experience doesn't have to be a cost passed on to the consumer.
Simon Dumenco, speaking at the AdAge Digital conference in New York on Wednesday, said that there's a fundamental flaw in the way that publications are approaching Apple's new product:
"They look good, but they don't quite get it."
Namely, publications are charging a lot for iPad content. As I've written before, the price of a few iPad apps (often twice as costly as similar products on the iPhone and iPad) can quickly become prohibitive. Publications priced up to $20 a month on the iPad could easily fall outside the price point that consumers are willing to pay.
Newspapers and magazines are focused on the iPad as their last best hope to bring in more income. But one publisher is currently designing his publications at the low price point of zero dollars.
That company is Gawker. A new redesign, set to launch across the company's properties soon, is a step away from the traditional scrolling method to view blog content. On the iPad and other mobile products, touch screens make it easier to shift between screens and bring digital viewing much more in line with traditional magazine viewing.
But online, there's no reason to view content in one long scrolling pipeline either. Which is where Gawker's new design comes in, currently in beta:
The site looks a lot more like a traditional news publication site. Current featured content takes up the real estate above the fold of the page, with links to more articles in the right margin. Most different is the shift away from a scrolling blog stream. The content on the homepage is contained in a compact rectangle.
It also looks like Gawker wants to make sharing content a priority. The redesign features a social media share box in the top right corner of the site, where search boxes often reside. Users looking for specific content need to find the search box down toward the bottom of the screen.
Dumenco says the iPad could be the "gateway to the post-scroll era," and Gawker's new design is shifting in this direction. Steve Jobs' new product may still be an elegant solution in search of a problem, but that doesn't mean that publishers and developers won't be taking small lessons from its design changes and applying them to their own problems.
Gawker's new design is a step in the direction of fixing the clunkiness of reading information online. Expect more to come in the near future.