Design Magazines Technology

Wired Type Missteps

Just over a week ago the latest issue of Wired (September 2010) was released for iPad, and as I’ve done for all issues released for the device so far, I immediately bought it. Yes, despite the less-than-perfect way they’ve handled the digital conversion of the magazine, I’ve been enjoying the magazine, not only because of its nice price — for us Tokyo expats that is, although I still want an even cheaper subscription option — but also because I like the way it reads, and the way the material is presented (and those videos have been quite good too).

BUT, I was pretty surprised at some rather ridiculous flubs in the latest issue, both cases tied to the use of type. First example, pictured above, is an entire story — which also happens to be part of the issue’s cover story, “The Web is Dead,” which means it’s long — presented as white text on a red background. Really? Did anyone at Wired actually try reading the article after it was set in those colors? My eyes were practically in tears by the time I got to the end.

Next up was the use of type too tiny to read. The image above shows said article in landscape mode, and that “Buried” piece is where you encounter the problem — interestingly (if that’s the right word) enough, if you change it to portrait mode, it’s the page’s other article that becomes barely readable.

The big issue here is that these problems are tied to the fact that you can’t change type size in the magazine. So far it hasn’t been an issue for me because all previously issues were formatted in a way that made all text very readable on the iPad screen. I can appreciate that adjustable type size would ruin layouts, and I do like the layouts we’re offered in the magazine, but you can’t sacrifice readability just to make sure a column fits somewhere, or to attain a certain aesthetic (in the case of white type on red).

By Jean Snow

Production Services Manager at Ubisoft Shanghai. Before that, half a life spent in Tokyo.