I’ve been speaking a lot lately about what’s possible with DPS. Last week, after one of my presentations a designer came up to me and said that before seeing some of Storycode’s apps, he had never considered designing two different layouts for portrait and landscape viewing in a single app. I’ve been thinking about this all weekend. And it has left me with a rather dramatic realization.
Everyone has their own process they go through when beginning a project. Some people spend a lot of time looking at what’s out there before beginning a project. I do not. And like how I prefer to work in a white room with no music (so that the color and tone of the music don’t influence my designs), I don’t like to look at what others are doing before I start designing an app, because inevitably, it frames my thinking in a certain place.
This is one of many reasons why this is an incredible time to be a publication designer. Right now we are working from a blank canvas. The norms have not been established. Yes, many early apps take cues from their print roots, but as designers and users are getting used to what’s possible, we are finding that we are establishing what is expected.
Going back to the beginning — what we have is an opportunity to add value by giving users more and different experiences in the different device orientations. Storycode is just finishing an app for Greater Portland Inc, a group that encourages economic development in the Portland, Oregon and Southwestern Washington region. In portrait mode, the app communicates significant data through animated and static data visualizations. When held horizontally, a slideshow — showing off the beauty of the region — launches and automatically plays.
We used a similar dual orientation experience in the Stratford Festival – Behind the Scenes app last year. In landscape, the publication is a visual tour of the production process of a season of the Stratford festival. When a user turns the device, the enter a reading experience that offers over 100 pages of text, in an uninterrupted view.
There are so many ways using two different layouts can add value, that I’m having a hard time thinking why you’d want to give a user the same thing in both orientations. Hopefully this line of thinking will become the norm.