May 14, 2014 Last Updated 3:57 pm

The Wednesday Column(s): Designing an interactive magazine – Multimedia

Each Wednesday, Talking New Media invites industry leaders to discuss industry topics involving digital publishing. This month we feature the columns of Nadi Tsech, a digital magazine designer based in Prague. Nadi’s own blog can be found at, where her wonderful use of graphics makes each post a pleasure to read. This is the third in the series of seven posts; the fourth post on Scrollable Frames can be found at the bottom of this page.

Multimedia is the most powerful tool of an interactive magazine.
Use video and audio to get readers’ attention and make articles
more interesting.


Video and Audio are one of the 9 basic features. We (publishers and designers) should use them reasonably and never overuse them, because multimedia is not only a powerful tool but also it can be a very annoying thing for readers.


There are 2 well-known symbols for video: img_1992totalfodbold-6 . It’s hard to misunderstand the meaning of these symbols and I always use them.

Examples from existing digital magazines.


Sometimes (really rarely) we can see this fashionguide-for-ipad-3-copy1 symbol or a combination of text + symbol, or just text.


I searched through digital magazines and noticed that this img_00152 symbol is the most popular (used 80% of the time, I think). But there is still more choices: world-gr-41img_9488-copy-copynm-emag. I even found this interesting icon overlap-ipad-magazine-21.

Examples from existing digital magazines.


Don’t annoy readers

I wrote a post called 9 Annoying Things in Digital Magazines. One of these items concerned multimedia. How to avoid mistakes and annoying your readers?

1. Pay attention to the settings.

There are screenshots of Adobe Indesign CS6 and Mag+ plugin for InDesign. I think these videos / audio settings are the standard for all digital publishing tools. I’d like to draw your attention to the “auto play” option. I wouldn’t recommend using this option (even if you have the best video, don’t force you reader to watch it).


2. Notify and give readers the option to play the video (or not). This is a screenshot of a National Geographic iPad edition. I like the solution they have found. They show readers a full screen video frame, a brief description and “tap to begin” button.


Why shouldn’t you use an auto play option?

This question concerns UX and readability. Some years ago, lots of web pages “auto played” background sounds (it was a user’s nightmare). And now we can see the same widespread UX-mistake in editorial design.

Readers usually don’t expect any sounds (especially loud sounds). It can be an unpleasant surprise if your tablet suddenly starts playing music in the wrong place. (A few months ago I was reading a magazine on the tram and suddenly a horror movie trailer started playing. The lady in front of me was terrified – a bad user experience).




The fourth column in this series – Pop-Ups – can be found here

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