WSJ. Magazine on Apple News+
In March 2019, The Wall Street Journal announced a partnership with new Apple News+ subscription service. Apple News+ provides subscribers with access to articles from more than 300 magazines including Vogue, GQ and Sports Illustrated. Other newspapers including the Los Angeles Times and Toronto Star also feature on the platform; however, the Journal is the only national news publication.
In addition to core news content, the WSJ. Magazine is also published on the platform as standalone digital issues. This is particularly exciting as it is the first time the complete publication has become available in a digital format.
For those familiar with the print edition WSJ. Magazine, and the section-front on WSJ.com would know that the publication has its own unique style, featuring bespoke typography, editorial style layouts and highly visual content. While the magazine certainly has its own personality, it still remains part of the WSJ family.
Design & Collaboration
Publishing WSJ. Magazine’s content on Apple News+ presented an interesting design challenge; how do we capture the essence and style of the publication on a third party platform. The answer was in developing a series of bespoke templates within the Apple News+ platform, specifically for the magazine.
To create these templates, we worked in close collaboration with the WSJ Apple News team, the WSJ. Magazine Team, WSJ Visuals Engineering and with Apple directly. By looking at the different content types (short- form, long-form, photo-essays, etc.) we developed a series of reusable components that could be leveraged as ‘building-blocks’ to cater for almost any content type. These components included everything from typographic styles (headlines, pull-quotes, body copy) to interactive visuals (carousels, gliders, mosaics), as well as platform specifics (covers, table of contents and ad placements). Our intent was to create components that provided the most flexibility and enabled our editors to assemble articles based around the content, as opposed to fitting into a predefined format.
During the design and development of these components, we were able to leverage existing Apple News+ functionality as well as create some custom components specifically for the magazine. This process was somewhat experimental, as we were working within a brand new platform, essentially translating our existing styles while simultaneously familiarizing ourselves with the platform’s capabilities. In some ways, we were empowered by some of the limitations, as it pushed us to think outside of the box, and consider presenting our content in new ways that we previously hadn’t thought of.
Additional complexity was added to the design and development of the components, as we were required to make each of them responsive. As Apple News+ is available on the many different sized devices (iPhone, iPad, Mac) it was imperative that we provided a great reading experience with appropriately sized typography, visuals and features for all of our readers and their different devices.
Features & Publications
As part of the Apple News+ platform, there were several new features that we had not previously worked with WSJ’s own digital platforms. An example of this is the animated covers for each issue. This is something that has not previously been done with WSJ. Magazine, as the content is predominantly published in a printed publication. This was an exciting prospect from the team, which rallied together to produce video content, specifically for the platform, and the results have been outstanding. What was once a static photoshoot, was able to come to life on the platform, creating a highly visually and engaging experience for our readers.
A recent update has also seen the inclusion of native ads within the magazine experience. Replacing static ‘PDF’ style ads, we have invested time not only in creating a great experience for our content, but for our ad placements as well. This is significant as it not only raises the quality of our offering to advertising partners, but provide a more seamless and intuitive end-to-end experience for our readers.
Since first publication on the platform, each consecutive issue has been published with a bespoke animated cover, as well as exclusive content for the Apple News+ platform. This content came in the form of a digital only ‘summer special’ featuring an exclusive with Kim Kardashian West. The team also published several back issues, resulting in a comprehensive library of WSJ. Magazine content.
This is very much the beginning of our Apple News+ experience, and it will be exciting to see the platform and our content evolve with new features and experiences. To learn more about WSJ and WSJ. Magazine on Apple News+, be sure to check out the App on any iOS or macOS device. You can learn more about Apple News+ on the Apple website.