Move over Content. You are no longer King.
Flipboard is by far my most favorite iPad application. Don’t take my word for it – ask pretty much anyone who has tried it and they’ll probably rave about it. What makes it so compelling? Two things – Design and User Interaction.
The interesting thing is the application itself does not provide any content. Rather you point it at the sources of content you like to consume – say your RSS news feeds or your social feeds on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr etc. and Flipboard does a masterful job of presenting and organizing the content cleanly using the principles of grid-based design. Through simple and engaging user interaction design, it then allows you to pretend as if you are in complete control as you “flip” through your content that has now been transformed into a richly laid out magazine printed on thick glossy cardboard pages.
The application is just beautiful and has become my preferred way for reading content on the iPad. However, not all the content I like is yet consumable through this applications. This got me thinking about how user experience and interaction design might influence what content we consume. Many others have already made the case that search is influencing what content we consume. I think similarly user experience and interaction design might also have an influence on what content we ultimately consume.
It is an intriguing thought in this era of digital media that I haven’t had time to fully contemplate but then again, if you think about it this is probably not really anything new. I imagine that the introduction of Radio and Television had a similar effect on content consumed by listeners and viewers based on the experiences those media offered.
Interestingly, I found some relevant thoughts by Khoi Vinh – previously the Design Director for NYTimes.com, in his design blog post titled “thoughts on News and User Experience” where he states that “great journalism is not a substitute for great user experience design.”. He goes on to say that “By and large, the digital news consumption experience is a poor one which I think is what really ails the news industry”. Consequently he believes that “single-source news apps are doomed to fail“.
Very interesting – this whole interplay between Content and Design overall. What do you think?