Home Avantoure: A Magazine for the Web Age

Avantoure: A Magazine for the Web Age

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 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.

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

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.

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