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Condé Nast banking on ‘liquid layout’ tools for broader tablet publishing

by David Needle

February 22 2012

Condé Nast is one of many publishers with an iPad app (Wired, shown above) looking for an easier way to cost-effectively publish to multiple tablet platforms.
Condé Nast is one of many publishers with an iPad app (Wired, shown above) looking for an easier way to cost-effectively publish to multiple tablet platforms.

For Condé Nast, publisher of Wired, GQ and other magazines, the decision to support the iPad was one thing, but supporting multiple tablet platforms is much more of a challenge.

Android tablets, Kindle Fire, Nook, PlayBook ... the list of distinct tablet platforms, and sizes, seems to be growing, giving consumers a a great deal of choice but publishers a headache. 

Condé Nast was one of the pioneers on the iPad, using the Adobe Publishing Suite for its first designs in 2010, the same year the first iPad was released. 

But as the number of tablet platforms grows (not only the underlying software but form factors ranging from 5-, 7-, 8- and 10-inch displays) publishing digital versions of its magazines cost-effectively becomes more of a challenge. 

“Frankly, the technology really hasn’t caught up to that notion of a high-fidelity design that is adaptive,” said Condé Nast VP Scott Dadich in a briefing in London reported by paidContent.org. “The adaptive web is teaching us a lot about what that’s going to look like. We’re working toward liquid layout with our friends at Adobe. It has springs and cushions in it so it can fit on different screens with the same kind of experience.”

Ideally, a publisher wants to to be able to design once and publish to multiple platforms without a lot of fuss. A Condé Nast official told paidContent that it currently needs new staff to design for different platforms. 

But an upgrade coming to Adobe InDesign, in conjunction with Adobe Digital Publishing Suite, is expected to help magazine designers produce pages that adjust to different device sizes using “liquid layout” rules via HTML5. 

Dadich said Condé Nast wants to have the “ultimate flexibility” to be able to “take a piece of content and put it on 15 different screens and still have a very consistent look and feel. Print considerations are really being heavily influenced by design conventions in tablet,” he said. 

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