There are many reviews about the Mine Magazine project from Time, Inc., though most of them focused on the print issues of the magazine. Because we’re digital guys, this review will focus on the digital edition technology which was used. Our review is based on this issue of Mine.
Surprisingly (or not), Time, Inc. didn’t use a traditional digital magazine company for this project, but instead used a custom design house. While built on new Flex technology (like the new Nxtbook 3.0), there are more than a few basic features missing from the digital magazine:
1) Spreads of the publication are a fixed size. Make your browser bigger, make your browser smaller – Mine doesn’t care. In doing so, there’s a ton of wasted real estate and it’s impossible to read the magazine when a spread is open.
2) Zooming in automatically moves the viewer to single page mode, rendering it impossible (once again) to pan or move about the spread.
3) When they say, "Mine," they mean "Mine." While you can share the link to your magazine, you can’t find the link to any page of the magazine, which is rather 2005. Don’t bother looking for Facebook or Twitter integration, either. (Think of that: Who wouldn’t love to upload MY magazine to MY Facebook page?)
4) But the zoom level isn’t your’s. Go ahead and zoom, but if you don’t like the level you get, you’re out of luck. Mine uses JPEG images, NOT vector images, which means that the Zoom level can’t be customized to the level the user wants.
5) Click on the back cover. We dare you. The only outbound sponsor link to Lexus is on the back cover of the magazine (let’s hope Lexus cares more about branding than web traffic). However, the entire back cover of the magazine is linked, which you can only tell because of the subtle change in the mouse-over tool tip. This means that a user who clicks on the back cover hoping to zoom in gets bounced to the Lexus website. Whether this was poor programming or intentional is anyone’s guess, but it’s the kind of linking only seen from those who don’t think through how readers will engage with the content.
6) If it’s MINE, why can’t I read it? Though our digital issue of Mine came last week, loading the magazine was impossible at the time, and we were greeted by silent screens and curious error messages. Today, Mine loaded cleanly, finally allowing us to get under the hood for this review.
All in all, what’s a bummer about the digital edition of Mine is that while it does give the reader a somewhat "customized" experience, content-wise, it totally failed in using features standard in many of today’s digital magazines, let alone a "break through" experience. In doing so, Time helped neither itself nor the digital magazine category.
April 28th, 2009 by Marcus Grimm