Flipboard’s Mike McCue: Tablets enabling websites with soul

October 19, 2011

He started by showing the audience here at Web 2.0 Summit a beautiful picture of a classic, cherry red Ferrari. “Without questions it’s one of the most beautiful cars ever made and it was at a time when they had very little access to data,” said McCure. “They didn’t have access to things like aerodynamic form. But there’s emotion in this car, it has   soul.” 

Apple under Steve Jobs was famous for creating products the CEO liked and thought consumers liked, while eschewing market research and focus groups favored by competitors. McCure credited Apple with repeatedly making products that have emotion in them. 

“Data helps you make great products, but the idea is to know when it’s important to ignore the data,” said McCue, who’s company Flipboard offers a variety of magazines from new and traditional publishers on the iPad. 

In a demo, McCue showed how Flipboard on iPad is designed more like a traditional magazine with full pages of well-designed content and separate full-page (full page) ads much like a magazine. 

“This is where the tablet comes in and why it’s such a big deal, information becomes the interface,” said McCue. “Now you can magically swipe through the content and when you come across an ad, instead of it being a banner that takes you away from the content, it’s full screen that lets the advertising breathe. 

“This is a breakthrough, but it’s what we’ve done in print for decades.” 

McCue said it’s his belief that richer content generates a more emotional reaction with readers and makes them more likely to respond to ads. 

In another example he showed a New Yorker cartoon on Flipboard that was centered in  a page that was mostly whitespace. “When was the last time you saw so much whitespace? We need to have the content stand out,” said McCue. 

Circling back to his original point, McCue said data analysis has important role in enhancing products. “But if you want to have a hit and inspire people you have to be willing to back away from the data. Great content is art.” 


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