Vox Magazine App Integrates Print and Digital Content in a Format Optimized for Tablet Viewing
By Gwen Girsdansky
The free app, Vox Magazine CoMo, is available through Apple‘s iTunes store. In addition to highlighting key stories from the print edition, the app integrates digital content from the magazine’s blog and website into one slick package. A new section called Radar features hot blog posts for the week.
“My favorite things we’ve done have been to enhance stories in ways that we couldn’t achieve in just print or online alone,” said adjunct professor Kristin Kellogg, who was the force behind the app. “For example, we’re able to present content in a more fun, engaging way through the use of interactive layers and pop-ups.”
The Magazines Across Platforms class oversaw the development of the app, which was about a year in the making. Vox student producers sought input from other students and faculty as well as conducted extensive research to determine how best to move forward.
“I spent a lot of time looking at other publications’ apps, especially those that use Mag+ to get inspiration,” said Vox iPad editor Amanda Dahling.
Master’s student and designer Will Guldin said he thought navigation was the biggest challenge to creating an immersive experience for readers.
“If you’re reading a magazine, it’s obvious that you can turn a page,” he said. “On a tablet, though, how do you show what’s clickable or how to scroll? We try to make it apparent, but if we have to explain too much, we’re probably not doing a very good job with the design.”
The Vox staff creates the weekly iPad edition using Mag+, an electronic publishing tool that allows users to create interactive magazine editions for tablets and smart phones. This is Vox’s second iPad app built using Mag+. Previously, magazine students created the Vox 5 app, which was a Columbia weekend entertainment guide.
Master’s student Emily Stewart trained staff members how to make the app interactive. The opportunity to learn Mag+ at the School will give Missouri journalism students an advantage when seeking employment.
“Our teams of students are involved in all stages of production with the app,” Kellogg said. “Students pitch the content, under the guidance of iPad editor Amanda Dahling; produce the stories; and design and edit the issue, using Mag+ iPad production software. I hope that this experience gives them a better understanding of the potential for magazines on new platforms, as well as hands-on knowledge of producing an iPad edition.”
Master’s students Libby Burns and Guldin are using Mag+ to design Vox this semester as part of an independent study. They find different ways of making the weekly editions more interactive, such as having pop-up windows with additional information, as well as links and videos that enhance the content and engage the reader.
“Mag+ challenges me to think about design in a more creative way,” Burns said. “Tablets are becoming increasingly popular, so this is an invaluable experience for me to have as I enter the job market next year.”
About Vox Magazine
Vox blends Columbia’s urban mentality and hometown familiarity into a smart, small-city tabloid. It is distributed in the Thursday edition of the Columbia Missourian and available at locations around the community, and is published online at VoxMagazine.com. Vox profiles the human condition, exposes local culture and provides reviews, tips and trends that tell readers what’s happening and where to be.