National Geographic for iPhone
The iPad mini isn't the only small screen making big news this week. We're excited to announce that National Geographic for iPhone is now available in the App Store, where it is promoted on the iTunes home page as a New and Noteworthy app. Yes, National Geographic for iPhone.
It ranks among this studio's proudest moments.
Three months ago, National Geographic invited Joe Zeff Design to help reinvent one of the world's most admired magazines for a tiny, 4-inch screen. We were privileged to have the opportunity to collaborate with the creative team at National Geographic, in particular Creative Director Bill Marr, Acting Director of Digital Publishing Lisa Lytton and Interactive Developer Jaime Hritsik. On the JZD side, president Joe Zeff and art directors Krissi Xenakis and Christopher Holewski were involved in every aspect of design and development.
Together we deployed Adobe Digital Publishing Suite to launch a mobile edition with the potential to reach hundreds of millions of iPhones worldwide. When you consider that there are two to three times as many iPhones as iPads in circulation, and that people spend much more time on their phones than their tablets, the idea of a mobile magazine becomes irresistible.
Our teams disassembled National Geographic and put it back together in a way that we felt best suited an iPhone. Some of the highlights:
• An animated cover, naturally. • Each feature is spliced into as many as four activity-driven sections — Read, Look, Watch and Listen for text, photos, videos and audio. • HTML photo galleries with captions you can tap to hide. • Audiobook versions of each feature so you can listen to each article while doing other things. • Live galleries updated daily with photographs from readers, staff and news sources. • A daily jigsaw puzzle to keep people coming back. • And much, much more.
Many of the iPhone apps in Apple's Newsstand are nothing more than Shrinky Dink versions of their print or iPad editions, impossible to read without pinching every screen. The New Yorker took the early lead, leveraging Adobe DPS and custom HTML to deliver a terrific experience for the iPhone, albeit one that is primarily text. Rodale followed with a reformatted Men's Health with visual impact and an even better Best Life earlier this week. We learned from their apps, as well as our very own iPhone app that preceded all three in the iTunes Store, and set to work on creating an iPhone-targeted magazine that could raise the bar even higher.
Many elements of National Geographic needed to be rethought for the iPhone. Some infographics and maps were dropped because of their complexity; others were salvaged by rebuilding from scratch. Many typographic treatments that provided impact in print created clutter on the smaller screen, and under Bill's direction we simplified the color and typographic palettes to make content more accessible. Rather than trim articles we kept them at full length, reasoning that a user can leave any article whenever they choose if we provide clear directions on how to do so. Color became a navigation tool: blue for going to new screens, red for leaving these screens; and National Geographic's trademarked yellow border for taking users back to the Contents.
We came away from the experience with a greater appreciation for National Geographic and its mission: to inspire people to care about the planet. We attended a showing by photographer George Steinmetz — yes, that George Steinmetz — inside a darkened room at National Geographic's Washington, D.C. headquarters. As always, George's work was breathtaking, documenting myriad aspects of everyday life in a country that was off-limits to most. When the lights came on, Editor Chris Johns spoke decisively: "The world needs to see these pictures." And that's how they roll at National Geographic, motivated not by awards or advertisements but by the unselfish mission of preserving our world for future generations.
As with any app, this was a team effort. Congratulations as well to Josh Penrod, Ed Gabel, Emily Ragle and Ian Brown at JZD, and Declan Moore, David Brindley, Casey Jensen, Trish Dorsey and Cinde Reichard at National Geographic. Moreso, our gratitude to the photographers and videographers, writers, editors, artists and others who provided such incredible content. It required everyone to make this happen, and we couldn't be prouder. The screen captures below only begin to scratch the surface; download National Geographic on your iPhone today.