Horizontal, vertical or both? Best practice for orientation in iPad magazines

Tablet magazines pose an extra challenge for designers. With a paper magazine, you have one layout and that’s it. But a tablet can be turned to both horizontal and vertical orientations, the latter being closest to the print magazine layout. When designing a magazine for the iPad, how should you think about the orientations?

We suggest that you design for both orientations, or choose one and stick to it. Forcing the user to switch orientations to read the next article requires something spectacular to be worth it for the user. If you’re just doing it because the design for that particular looked so great in horizontal, while both the previous and next pages are vertical, you are running the risk of annoying the user, unless you’ve got a specific reason (e.g. writing about design, but even British Journal of Photography who never crop photos, design for both orientations).

Our tools offer a feature we call ‘pinning’. With pinning, you can tell objects which edge of the screen to stick to when the user turns their tablet. This way, you only have to design once for both orientations. Here’s a great example of a magazine designed for both orientations, Bloomberg Markets+:

Zone Blitz Magazine is a very good example of a magazine created for only one orientation. Many of the features in this iPad magazine about American football are beautiful and simple, and work really well in horizontal orientation:

What do you think as a user or designer? Does it matter to you? Which do you prefer and why?

More information about how to create magazines for iPad with Mag+

  • Lee Turner

    Personally I tend to stick to portrait when reading digital publications, however where possible I like to give the user the option and design for both. One issue I’m hoping to be resolved in Mag+ however, is that you must swipe through the space between verticles in a portrait only publication. I would love an option in a portrait only publication to have a seemless join between verticles.