New App Review: WWE Magazine
Christmas came a day early for wrestling fans when World Wrestling Entertainment announced on Dec. 24 the release of a new app for its monthly publication WWE Magazine. Unfortunately, after reviewing the digital publishing effort put out by this entertainment giant, the final product added up to a lump of coal for its fans.
The prospects seemed bright for WWE magazine to innovate digital publishing like it has its segment of entertainment. However, after opening the October issue which is offered for free as their sample issue, it was immediately apparent the magazine replicated the mistake many other publishers have made by simply releasing a glorified pdf.
The first problem was that the magazine is not easily viewable horizontally, which is the more natural and visually pleasing way to view a digital magazine. Most print spreads are also a spread in the digital version, meaning two pages are squished into one panel instead of the spread being split and each half getting its own panel. Others are only viewable vertically, which creates confusion.
This tight composition makes reading difficult as text is oftentimes too small to read without zooming. Constant zooming creates more hunting for text and makes it more likely that something will be missed unless you zoom back out and then in again. That is annoying.
The magazine is very well designed but by not giving each page its own horizontal panel, the strong visuals are frequently muted.
There were also a few navigational issues. From the opening spread, you can scroll left to the final page of the magazine and back ad. This is confusing as it takes away the sense of beginning and end, which is one of the strong suits of viewing a digital magazine as opposed to a web site.
When I was inside the magazine, I had a hard time getting the scrolling pagination to pop up along the bottom of the frame so I could return to the library. This created a problem as I wanted to buy an issue, but couldn’t get to them without leaving the app.
Here are a couple of suggestions for how the magazine could have been improved based on its actual layout. These concepts apply to any digital publisher who wants to provide their readers with a publication that is more sophisticated than a flipbook or glorified pdf.
In the front of the October issue, were a few full screen images. Why not also include a short video clip from the actual match in the photo? WWE owns the video library for many organizations, so why not include more clips throughout, or at least links to video on their web site if file size is a concern. There are numerous places throughout the issue where video would make a great multimedia enhancer.
Another small feature that could have had greater impact was on pages 18/19, where along the bottom of the spread was a series of posters from past Vengence pay-per-views. If you could touch the tiny thumbnails to open a larger version of the cover so you could read them easier, readers would be invited to engage more with the graphic while providing more visual impact.
In addition, there were a handful of interviews and features that would have benefitted by adding a slideshow. There was one feature about two legendary female wrestlers that was screaming for a historical timeline of images with captions that could have both provided a look at rarely seen images of these ladies as well as educating with additional historical info in the captions.
There are a few house ads for WWE DVDs in the magazine, which act as a missed opportunity to sell more product. WWE fans are fiercely loyal and spend a lot on merchandise, so why not embed a video trailer within the ad and/or a link to the page on WWE Shop so readers could make an immediate purchase? M-commerce is growing rapidly but WWE didn’t give itself a chance to push product when it didn’t provide a shopping opportunity from its ad.
WWE is a leading entertainment company with tons of content resources across all media platforms which puts them at an advantage against many other companies that produce digital magazines. Their first forays have not been impressive but by building off its foundation of a well designed print magazine and a wealth of content, WWE Magazine could eventually be a champion.
Ron Matejko is the President of Phoenix, Ariz.-based MVP Media, an award-winning digital publishing company. Matejko has 16 years of publishing experience in print, Web and mobile and has worked on the staff of two award-winning publications.
MVP Media publishes MVP Magazine, the first interactive sports publication, which won a Bronze 2010 Digital Magazine Award for Best Sports Magazine, besting entrants from 26 countries around the world, and was a finalist for Designer of the Year. MVP Media will launch its own magazines on the iPad in 2011.
MVP Media also helps existing publishers convert their print products into dynamic publications for the web and tablets. Visit the MVP Magazine website at www.mvptoday.com. Contact Ron by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or connect with him on LinkedIn or on Twitter @mvp_media.