Three new online magazines
March 24, 2008 10:15 AM   Subscribe

Three new online magazines - Triple Canopy, Issue Magazine and Rosa B - tackle the problem of text presentation on the screen in innovative ways. via
posted by stbalbach (37 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I think Issue receives a FAIL.

I like the Triple Canopy interface though.
posted by Mister_A at 10:24 AM on March 24, 2008

Yes, and Triple Canopy has a sensible url scheme for linking in to content. It could use page numbers, though.
posted by Wolfdog at 10:35 AM on March 24, 2008

tackle exhibit the problem of text presentation on the screen in innovative ways


Link 1: Unscalable text. Fail.
Link 2: Yellow on white; way too busy; can't scroll down to finish any of the columns. Fail.
Link 3: Text obscured by overlapping graphic elements. Fail.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:39 AM on March 24, 2008 [3 favorites]

The sites all have good points and bad points, design-wise. I think I liked Rosa-B the least; I thought the use of the Z-index on Issue was clever; and Tripple has an interesting interface but IMHO the text is too light for the white background.

All of these sites suffer from one glaring problem: they are meant to be read on a computer, by someone sitting in front of the computer. The only way I've ever found any enjoyment in reading on a digital device is when I used to download stuff to my RocketBook, which was the size of a paperback novel and could be carried around anywhere, even to the bathroom, even at night -- by acting as its own flashlight.

Once such devices become available at <$75 (preferably less) each, electronic publishing will begin to take off. Until then, not so much.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 10:41 AM on March 24, 2008

These are so so, bad, and horrible, in that order.
posted by Outlawyr at 10:51 AM on March 24, 2008

Triple Canopy is nice except for the unscalability; the keyboard shortcuts especially are a considerate touch. But that Rosa B interface is all. Kinds. Of. Fucked. Up. Who wants to feel anixety about whether their mouse pointer might drift two pixels off of a text box? (unless, of course, it's fun and whimsical!)
posted by youarenothere at 10:54 AM on March 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

magazines like R A Y G U N was all the rage
" | Led by founding 
a | rt director David Carson,
R | ay Gun explored
e | xperimental magazine
t | ypographic design.
T | he result was a chaotic,
a | bstract style, not always
r | eadable, but distinctive in appearance."
This reminds me ofR A Y G U N, pretty slick and fun and all and probably goodokay
predecessors to a
shiny, happyTOMORROW, BUT ALL IN ALL I'd rather read, oh, I don't know?                   
for the TIME BE I N G
posted by soundofsuburbia at 10:56 AM on March 24, 2008 [8 favorites]

I wouldn't say they went out and tackled anything. More like some yet-to-be mainstreamers decided to, once again, play fast and loose with readability, accessibility, technology et al.

I give Triple Canopy an A+ for whitespace, an F for hidden navigation and a booger mark for name picking. Issue is DOA and Rosa B reminds me to uninstall Dreamweaver if it's still installed anywhwere.

Before getting too cute with the web, ask yourself this question: would you bring your business plan to a bank in three-dimensional, pop-up book format?
posted by jsavimbi at 10:59 AM on March 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

I really should've proofread that.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 10:59 AM on March 24, 2008

tackle the problem of text presentation on the screen in innovative ways.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 11:00 AM on March 24, 2008

> Link 1: Unscalable text. Fail.

The text in CanopyCanopyCanopy scales for me.

I've got this pinched nerve in my back that twitches painfully every time somebody says they have a solution to the scrolling text problem. I'm unclear on why it's a problem for anybody besides designers obsessed with pixel-perfect control over the user experience.

Said designers never seem to learn how unsatisfied users are when designers have successfully exerted pixel-perfect control over the user experience. Perhaps if there was no internet they would be at work on the problem of how woodlike wood is.

Setting that rant aside, CanopyCanopyCanopy is interesting and the content is well-presented albeit overbaked. The other two sites are too twitchy for me to feel comfortable reading, and I did not get far in them.
posted by ardgedee at 11:02 AM on March 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Rosa B: good use of color, bad layout, annoying boxes, bad text colour.

Issue: Failure, abject.

Triple Canopy: Smart. Mootools? Anyway, I think it's got a few kinks: hard to go back, page on page navigation forces one to forget about the back button, which is impossible.
posted by parmanparman at 11:05 AM on March 24, 2008

The text in CanopyCanopyCanopy scales for me.

You can scale it, but making the text a legible size causes the page to become illegible: It just cuts off at the bottom.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:07 AM on March 24, 2008

I like the Tripple Canopy's penchant for allowing me to click and be presented with an almost completely blank page. Of course, by the word 'like' I mean 'think sucks giant balls.' The others are worse.
posted by sfts2 at 11:09 AM on March 24, 2008

Whose leg are they trying to fucking pull, here?
posted by notsnot at 11:13 AM on March 24, 2008

Tripple Canopy was OK, albeit with text weirdly cramped below center on my 15-inch work monitor. On Rosa B it was too easy to mess up what you were reading by moving the mouse, and the color choices were awful. Issue was a total failure - I have no idea what the heck they were thinking.

In all, interesting post that made me really appreciate the plain text format of MeFi and countless other sites that get usability at least decently right.
posted by gemmy at 11:19 AM on March 24, 2008

soundofsuburbia: I really should've proofread that.

I'm working my way through some Heller books at the moment; you could probably spin typos as "an earnest attempt to redefine the perfectionism inherent in design by introducing glaring flaws to distract from the subtle ones." or possibly "de-academicization and redemocratization of design by removing all gloss, from paper to content and anywhere in between."
posted by heeeraldo at 11:21 AM on March 24, 2008 [2 favorites]

I think that Triple Canopy's paging could work if you are presenting multiple pages of images to a viewer. Certainly much better than how Flickr does it. Would be nice to tabbed index, though, or some other visual cue to know where you are in the series.

As for reading text, not sure, I am not sold on it.
posted by psmealey at 11:22 AM on March 24, 2008

addendum: lest I get accused of pulling a nasreddin, I'm referring to Steven Heller.
posted by heeeraldo at 11:24 AM on March 24, 2008

Not yet.
posted by batmonkey at 11:31 AM on March 24, 2008

Everything old is new again. Reminds me of the Legibility Wars of the Emigré area. There's some interesting interface things going on with these. If you don't like it then you don't have to read it. Just like you probably never picked up an issue of Raygun.
posted by quadog at 11:34 AM on March 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

I felt bad about the typo in the post, so I removed the extra "p" from "Triple", but now I feel bad about the apparent unexplained rash of misspellings in the comments here, so I felt like I should point out that that happened.
posted by cortex at 11:37 AM on March 24, 2008

What browser was Issue designed for? I can't read it in either Firefox or IE. Is that intentional?
posted by justkevin at 11:54 AM on March 24, 2008

Yep. Design is easier if you ignore function.
posted by dosterm at 12:16 PM on March 24, 2008

1. ahead of the times; "the advanced teaching methods"; "had advanced views on the subject"; "a forward-looking corporation"; "is British industry innovative enough?"

Triple Canopy was alright, but seemed somewhat limiting to me. The whole flashcard-esque interface just felt too much like a Hypercard stack to me...

Issue was was awful, at least in Firefox. Maybe it looks brilliant in IE or something, but I couldn't scroll down to see the bottoms of the columns, the rollover was awkward and pointless, and the whole thing was just a big jumbled mess.

Rosa B was an interesting idea, but I found the it incredibly distracting and kind of irritating to have to roll over and back to go from text to menus.

No, I'm sorry. Not "ahead of the times" or advanced, just different, and not necessarily good.
posted by Aversion Therapy at 12:17 PM on March 24, 2008

Perhaps I've been spending too much time on my game console, but I perceive the big + on the Triple Canopy page as a single control for up-down-left-right. Which might actually have been better.
posted by SPrintF at 12:37 PM on March 24, 2008

I like Triple Canopy.

I'm sympathetic to what rosa B is trying to do design-wise, but... sheesh.
posted by roll truck roll at 1:07 PM on March 24, 2008

Why can't I have plain black text on a nice creamy white background in a font with decent kerning that wraps down the screen in an eye friendly 50-70 em width column, so I can just tap the space bar to keep reading all the way to the bottom? And I could enlarge the font with the browser controls that I'm already using.

Oh, wait, because the 20-something web design architects need to prove that they're forward-looking and thoughtful individuals and want to show you their shiny new tool instead of the old one that's still around from their grandpappy's patternmaking kit.

Well, kids, here's a big fat fucking clue: the old tool one is still around because it still fucking works. Go back to design school and polish up your CV's pretentious artist statement because as far as I'm concerned: you're fired.

Canopy: You're destroying my eye-trail. Fuck off.
Issue: Too much visual noise; can't scroll with wheel. Fuck off.
Rosa: Flyovers are worse than bad advertising. Fuck off.
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:11 PM on March 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

I run an online literary "situation", and I present simple black on white PDFs. While it seems like I may want you to print them out, I have no delusions that this is what actually happens. I merely like the aesthetic of PDF on the screen.

And simplicity.
posted by UnknownQ at 1:24 PM on March 24, 2008 [2 favorites]

Good stuff, UnknownQ. I run a similarly minimal literary venture.
posted by roll truck roll at 2:38 PM on March 24, 2008

I remember downloading magazines in Docmaker format, before PDF really took off. That's what that first one reminded me of. But only being able to read short sections before having to click a big "+" button is too annoying for the nostalgia to save it. The second one, issue magazine sucks. What am I supposed to do, view the source to see the stuff that does beyond the bottom of the page? If you had more than three words per line maybe the columns wouldn't be too long for your stupid scroll-disabled design. If the designers of that Rosa site want to email me, I can point them to a basic primer on the CSS box model. I think until they work that out, they should use html tables for layout because this is broken.
posted by nowonmai at 2:58 PM on March 24, 2008

Wow, I had no idea people cared so much! What fun. As someone who is absolutely shite at this kind of thing, its nice to know there are wars being fought.
posted by fcummins at 3:54 PM on March 24, 2008

I like triple canopy. It's amazingly regressive. If it's solving the question of how to adapt text to the screen, the answer it comes up with is to present a slide-show of a book. Not exactly groundbreaking, but the quick transitions, nice layout, easy keyboard navigation and text scaling work great. Pleasure to read despite being a stupid answer to the difficult design question alluded to in the FPP. (Yep, you heard me. The text scales great. Either my copy of Safari has superpowers, or y'all are a bunch'a dorks.)
posted by ~ at 4:41 PM on March 24, 2008

God. Damn. Just put some text on the screen in a readable color scheme and "design" through content. Most pages that put a premium on "design" absolutely fail to be worthwhile, and most of the really popular sites on the internet are more functional than anything else. Look at Google. Slashdot. Hell, Metafilter is gray on blue; we're not exactly breaking the designer budget here.

Function over form.
posted by sonic meat machine at 5:00 PM on March 24, 2008

I clicked on a Triple Canopy article in a browser window that was more than 940px wide and I had no idea how to turn the page because the "+" link was off to the right side, beyond view. I'd call that a pretty substantial failure of UI.
posted by camcgee at 9:40 PM on March 24, 2008

Point of order regarding Slashdot and their fuckheaded three-column design -- it scales terribly. A few Ctrl-+es and your right column full of nothing you care about is now in charge of your experience and will never ever go away. Can't even scroll it off the screen.

Others here have said it better, but let me nth the stop-"solving"-problems-that-aren't. Text, for the most part, isn't "design content", it's "content" and design needs to enable it, frame it, and let it do some talking. If these layouts were clothing we'd all be wearing accent scarves for socks and screaming logo-emblazoned handbags for pants which we'd end up soiling since zippers are too *expected*.

Half the reason I read mefi is the layout flows anywhere. In fact, I sort of resent the YouTube additions (I know I can disable them, I'm hoping to change my mind) because they do some evil design things like take over my window rather than pop-up inline like everything on the web should.
posted by abulafa at 9:43 PM on March 24, 2008

You're supposed to click the articles in Issue. Then they expand and get a scrollbar and are actually readable. It was incredibly non-intuitive to do this though, as indicated by the number of comments here bitching about the narrow columns and inability to scroll.
posted by breath at 12:46 AM on March 25, 2008

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