Avantoure and the tagline is "life is a game". The contents of the magazine appeal to me, but in this post I'll focus mainly on the web technologies being used.Recently I came across a new magazine that is delivered via the Web - and utilizes a lot of Web native functionality in the process. It's called
To read each issue of Avantoure, you need to download a web app called Zinio Reader - a 4.4 MB download. Zinio in itself is an interesting next generation Web app. The Zinio homepage provides a variety of name brand magazines to read and/or subscribe to - such as BusinessWeek, Macworld, Premiere. The latest version of Zinio Reader also features rich media, such as the following features:
- Animations and interactive content
- Music and live audio interviews
- Movie clips and TV commercials
As a recent NY Times article noted, there is a trend for magazines to go digital - so they can attract students and young people to read them. The Web is of course one of the prime delivery mechanisms, but also web technologies such as hyperlinking and rich media UI elements are key to the user experience.
To make the online magazine reading experience more interactive, Avantoure uses rich media elements like animated pictures, hyperlinks, and embedded audio and video trailers. The company says it wants to push the boundaries in digital magazines, so after each issue they examine what worked and what didn't. For example, they say that based on feedback received after the inaugural March-April issue, the May-June one included more audio files and full-page Flash animations to illustrate the articles. In subsequent issues, they've added more video footage, additional Flash animations created from scratch to highlight specific articles, and slide shows.
I purchased the latest edition of Avantoure and found the reading experience to be very nice, although it's never that comfortable reading a magazine via a PC or laptop. With a tablet though, I could see myself using it a lot.
The hyperlinks in the article open up in your default browser, while the videos play inside the Zinio Reader and generally complement the articles well. Some pages have music on by default - e.g. the article entitled "WhenEastmetWest" greeted me with a wash of lovely music related to that theme. You can also make notes (like yellow stickies) and highlight things in the magazine. Another interesting factor is the advertising, which is as glossy and attractive as you'd expect in a lifestyle magazine.
The only usability quibble I have is that you have to magnify the text in order to read it, then de-magnify to see the whole page again. Other than that, it is a pleasure to read and interact with.
Avantoure behind the scenes
To finish, a little about the magazine itself. Avantoure is a London-based interactive digital magazine, launched in March 2006. It's now up to its fourth issue, which has the theme "Back to the Future". Themes of past issues included "Las Vegas" and "Nautical Issue". Publisher Serafima Bogolomova says that their aim is to "make people want to strive for something unusual, to experiment, and to be non judgmental…to encourage them to play with their lives a bit". The title of the magazine, Avantoure, is a combination of the French word "avan" (meaning 'forward') and the English "tour." So the title loosely translated means: "let's set on a journey". So on a personal level, the magazine's theme appeals to me.
Setting on a journey is also kind of what print publications are doing circa 2006, by transferring their business into the digital Web realm! Avantoure is doing a fine job at running with this trend - and is well worth checking out for its content too.