Category Archives: Magazine design

Barcodes linking to online content III

In Japan, more than 68 million people can access internet from their mobile phones; book trains, airplanes, cinema, you name it, you can probably do it from your keitai (mobile in Japanese). However, some web URLs can be quite tedious to enter on the limited keyboard of a mobile phone. Enters the QR-code.
Those 2D barcodes released in 1994 are set to replace traditional barcodes on all products on the long term; they can encode more data than previously possible and are still decryptable even when part of the symbol is damaged. In Japan, they have been assigned many roles: one of them is to help us input web addresses on our mobile phones and jump from printed content to online content. They can be photographed and decrypted by more than 50% of all mobile phones on the market in Japan (87M), that almost all sport digital cameras. A few seconds are needed to take a close-up photo of the code which can be decrypted. You are automatically offered to launch this address in the phone browser.
I found 2 of those codes in my magazines this month. But the trend started a few months ago. Many more applications have been found for this printed QR-code / keitai duo. I will detail a few more in upcoming entries.

Relax Magazine April 2004

Relax Magazine April 2004

Unfortunately for RVSI, those 2D barcodes are known as QR-codes in Japan and they seem to be the industry standard… We use them at work, I see them at the combini… I see them on business cards (just today), I have them in my Tokyo Map linking each page to restaurant and lodging infos about the area drawn on that very page, I see them on book covers (don’t have a pen and paper but want to remember the reference of the book – type of situation), I see them on websites promoting their mobile content. And I gotta make a t-shirt with a big one printed on it. I give it only a few months before the first QR-code tatoos and graphic design students using it in their projects (*bad taste alert*) in the manner of the UPC barcode.

Hyperlinks in Print IV

[cityofsound] Porter notes that they’re dealing with“readers who get most of their news from television and the internet now” and without the hours to spend reading the paper that people used to have. He can’t assume that people are going to read the whole thing – so there arenavigational cues, layout guides, and other devices toalert the reader to other articles of interest within the paper (and presumably online) – almost, “if you like this article, you’ll also like this one on page 14”.

I’ll look forward to seeing how these work in practice. I’m quite a fan of two devices used in the hugely popular Grazia magazine and hugely populist Heat magazine. Now apparently the biggest selling ‘glossy’ in the UK and rather beautifully laid-out, Grazia deploys the thumbnail preview of features on their contents page (see below), providing both a hint of the spatially classy layouts the magazine is developing as well as visually lodging a cue for subsequent reveal.


[…] Heat deploys one of the more compelling bits of in-magazine navigation around (see snaps of the bottom of Heat pages below), indicating what’s to follow if you just turn that page. Quite brilliant. Absolutely one of the best bits of ‘navigation’ I’ve seen all year. Now that’s what I call a navigational hook. I’m not sure what the interaction design pattern name for this might be, however. Any suggestions, decent or indecent? Something involving ‘cheeky’, ‘pull’, ‘arrow’ and ‘crop’, perhaps.

heat1 heat2

Those are excerpts and pics from the great article over at cityofsound.

Hyperlinks in Print III

This third chapter of our investigation into the use ofhyperlinking metaphores in print design takes us to a page of theApril 2005 issue of The Atlantic Monthly magazine: David Foster Wallace’s cover story about talk radio. The layout of the article has been altered to facilitate interaction between the main text and the footnotes (not unlike the work done in I.D. magazine in early 2004).

[if:book] Wallace is well-known for his copious use of footnotes & endnotes, and this article is no exception. However, either Wallace or The Atlantic’s art director have decided to treat his digressions differently in this case: words or phrases in the main text that signal a jumping-off point have lightly colored boxes drawn around them, rather than a superscripted numeral after them. In the print edition, boxes in the margins – one immediately thinks ofwindows – with notes in them appear, color-coded to match the set-off phrases. Some of the notes have notes; they get more boxes of their own. It’s subtle and well thought out, and considerably more inviting to read over 23 pages than footnotes or endnotes would be. Most interesting is how the aesthetic draws inspiration from the web: the boxed notes suggest pop-up windows (or the electronic – not so much the paper – version of Post-It notes), especially when they’re layered. And the boxed phrases suggest nothing so much as the underlining that the Web has taught us signifies a hyperlink. The HTML version (preview) on their website follows this exactly, presenting the notes as pop-up windows (some of which pop up their own windows).


Click image for bigger version. Image originally from the if:book website. Reposted here under similar Creative Commons License.

If you have seen some kind of web-like layout in other publications, please let us know by sending us an email using the link at the top left of this site. Thank you.

Hyperlinks in Print I

The January/February 2004 issue of International Design Magazine (I.D. Mag) sports a complete redesign. On its last page, a new section called /flashback makes use of footnotes in an interesting way: numbered transparent yellow tapes are added to the text in lieu of the traditional footnote numbers.

Those usually nearly invisible numbers become the most visible and active graphical elements of the page layout. To me they evoke more hyperlinks than post-its perhaps because that, rather than linking to bottom-of-the-document discreet footnotes, they are mere links to other blocks of information spread on the periphery of that main block.
I tend to see that kind of gimmicks as direct descendants of web design and the rest of themagazine’s makover details seem to reinforce this probability.

If you have seen some kind of web-like layout in other publications, please let us know by sending us an email using the link at the top left of this site. Thank you.


It seems though that the “new feature” effectively takes all the attention away from the content. It has been shown that yellow and red are the two colors you use if you wish garner the eyes attention so I would definitely have to question the color selection of the new feature. However, it is an excellent implementation of an online elemetn.

Well, I agree on the theory. However, I think that the application was controlled. There are only 6 of them, so nothing too distracting here and they appear quite playful. The playfulness is, to me, good enough an invitation to make me want to read the entire content of the page. Actually, all in all, the amount of text of the notes probably surpasses that of the main block and footnotes they are not; just an interesting way to make us interact and navigate through big scary blocks of text. I want to see more of that.

More QR codes

More photos of QR-codes found on everyday items in Japan.
Starting with 2 magazine adverts for mobile phones featuring barcodes linking to the mobile site of the maker; a graphics-softwares tutorial book that has a barcode on its cover including all the details about the book so you can come back later and ask for it precisely for example; a mini-guide to Tokyo areas and streets featuring a different barcode on each spread that if scanned takes you to a mobile site page giving you more precise information on Gourmet or Lodging informations for that very area delimited by the spread’s contour; and finally an ink-stamp made by Sachihata with a barcode that could include all your contact details to then be printable on some of your belongings, letters, business cards.
I think that it is safe to say that more than 60% of all new mobile camera phones sold in Japan now have a QR barcode reader included in their system. I will get back to you as soon as I can get more precise numbers for the 3 main makers AU, DoCoMo and Vodafone.

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