Unlike the print version of the National Geographic magazine, the tablet edition is built to be viewed horizontally, which determined by the nature of the photo content that NatGeo is mainly recognized by.
The purpose of the NatGeo’s front page (digital edition) is to give people an idea of what NG want to explore in this issue crispy. It only puts one main feature hed & dek on the cover. Regarding the reason of simplifying the story represented on A1, I guess it’s based on the existence of the subsequent navigation-jumping pages- in digital copy. The function of “Contents” and “Short Takes” is sort of same as the expanding cover, allowing the audience to click on any sections or features that interest them. The reader could even click on specific icons to choose scanning the infographic or watching the video within one story rather than counting and flipping through the pages.
NG did quite well on maintaining the consistency from issue to issue. The cover keeps the iconic yellow box with the centered logo. The template of NG has a simple 8 columns grid. Because the powerful photography is the signature of NG, the texts are relative secondary (basically just for the purpose of annotate and emphasize the visuals on the digital cover). Besides, between each issue, NG has the “NEXT MONTH’ section to advance notice.
In the issue of January 2015, the NatGeo hinges its features on the keyword of “Firsts”, ranging from the invention of symbolic expression, the birth of universe, the baby’s brain development in the first year, the most aspiring Africa city, the national symbol bird-eagle, to the first Americans. And the digital cover only features the “FIRST ARTISTS”, which combines the video footage with the still photography. The short footage shows scientists scraping samples from the polychrome ceilings in Spain’s Altamira Cave, and the picture presents a wide shot of the cave drawing with the dek of “How creativity made us human.” The sneak peek preview is intriguing, and goes beyond the print limitation.
The image sizes are mainly full-page (1024 x 768), and the video template is 1024 x 576 pixels (16:9 ratio). Due to features of digital platform, there are more chances to explore the possibilities of creative covers on tablet. Taking advantages of the video, audio, photography, illustration, and animation, the interactive factors of NG will engage the readers better.
Overall, NatGeo normally designs the digital covers differing form the prints, pushing the interactive experiences to the next level. For the newest issue on Feb., NG looks into the traumatic brain injury of soldiers. In order to showcase the heavy subject, the cover puts a soldier who holds a mask in the middle. Several seconds later, the hed and dek pops up. The gap is crucial here. It triggers the reader to think about the meaning of the visuals. When the “answer” shows up, the reader can quickly grasp the point. That’s one of the ways that NG connects with the audience. But on the other side, for the readers who are not patient enough, they might not appreciate the “suspense.”