I'm interested in digital magazines on tablet devices, especially on the iPad.

With magazines that already exist in print, i've noticed at least two different concepts for digital editions of said magazines, the lazy approach, simple reproductions, often only a PDF inside an app, or magazines that are tailored to the iPad screen and may also contain interactive elements.

As part of a bachelor thesis, i would like to evaluate a number of different magazines, but the only existing guidelines i have found are from the NN Group (the 2011 evaluation of the usability of the iPad and its apps) and are not very detailed.

They are very useful for basic stuff, making sure that navigation inside the magazine is always as expected, but imho they are lacking other things, like any mention of resizeable fonts in the magazine-specific case study.

Now i'd guess i have to create my own guidelines, so detailed that they could be passed to someone without any knowledge of usability and still help him to design or evaluate.

So, does anyone know of any really detailed guidelines for design and evaluation of digital magazines on a tablet?

  • 1
    This looks like very much like this question ux.stackexchange.com/questions/19849/…. Have you searched in the UX.SE archives before asking? Apr 14, 2012 at 4:48
  • I've noticed that question, but I'm looking for more specific guidelines which fit better (and maybe only) for magazines displayed on a tablet. How to comply to the expectations the user (who maybe never used the internet) has when he buys his first digital magazine instead of a printed one while still adding the possibilities the digital medium is capable of. Apr 14, 2012 at 5:28
  • I'm not sure expecting specific guidelines like this makes for a useful question; unless you're asking about designing for an operating system, they generally don't formally exist. If you have a specific question on how to make something work in a digital magazine, definitely ask that.
    – Ben Brocka
    Apr 14, 2012 at 12:58
  • You have strange assumptions about your users, such as people who have never used the Internet but getting digital publications. I'm not sure there is much difference from other design guidelines.
    – dnbrv
    Apr 14, 2012 at 18:24
  • It might be worth searching to see if there are existing guidelines for e-readers, rather than just tablets.
    – PhillipW
    Apr 14, 2012 at 20:59

1 Answer 1


I would have to say no. I've been looking into the specifics of detailed heuristics for tablets in general and didn't find anything. This leads me to the conclusion that it is highly unlikely that there is a heuristic for digital magazines on tablets. Beware though, this is not to be considered as facts since "the absence of evidence, is not the evidence of absence". Consider the above written as an educated guess only.

That said, we still know that there is one very general and often used heuristic in Jakob Nielsens Ten Usability Heuristics, which isn't specific to tablets nor digital magazines on tablets, but it can be used as a starting point for building your own checklist.

Creating a heuristic for digital magazines on tablets is a delicate job. One have to be careful to know what the application really does, and in what context you evaluate the application. From Heuristic Evaluation on an iPad app there is a very useful comment by user pjohnkeane that also applies on your case:

...but you also need to be careful about how you interpret the heuristics, especially in the context of the particular application you're reviewing. Take "consistency and standards", for example: a number of your issues identify that the UI patterns used in the app don't conform with the UI patterns used in other iPad (and iOS) apps (i.e. external consistency) ... but in the case of this app, is that more or less important than conforming with the UI patterns used elsewhere in the app (i.e. internal consistency)?

To summarize, make your own heuristic list and evaluate digital magazines on tablets accordingly, but be very carful with the results you get. Think twice of what you really are evaluating.

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