Digital Magazine Analysis: National Geographic

Founded in 1888, National Geographic is the official magazine of the National Geographic Society. Containing articles about geography and world culture, the magazine now has both print and digital versions readily available. According to the website BRAD, the total average circulation for its print edition is 197,622. Meanwhile, its total average circulation for its digital version is significantly lower at 6,011.

One important difference to the digital version of National Geographic Magazine is that it has taken the pictures that were already going to be in the print edition and expanded upon them. For example, in one online edition, there is an interactive map where you can zoom in on regions and read about them in greater detail. There is also the occasional video which adds insight and helps explain the issue being referred to in the article in greater depth. This allows its readers to actively engage with the magazine, instead of simply reading words from a page. However, there are some ways in which the online magazine could still improve.

The print edition has text and photos on the same page, but the online edition has the articles as single bodies of text with photos on the pages before and after. Although this could be seen by some as beneficial, the fact that the magazine’s readers have to flick between pages to view photos and text separately could be seen as an issue, especially considering that the photos complement the text. In order to improve this area of the digital version, perhaps the photos and text could appear on the same page, but with the size of the photos being significantly increased and the amount of text being reduced. However, reducing the amount of text would have to be a cautious decision, as there still needs to be enough important information to suit the magazine’s intended target audience, which is opinion leaders and decision makers.

As well as these larger, more detailed photographs in the online edition of the magazine, it could possibly be improved by also including some smaller images and related sidebars that are found in the print edition, in order to make it easier for its readers to navigate. Another criticism of National Geographic’s digital magazine is that the layout of the text is very basic. To improve its appearance, more consideration of the text’s position on the page and better selection of its display font may be necessary. In addition to this, the online version does not allow for font resizing, a significant disadvantage when trying to view this magazine on multiple platforms.

The digital magazine versions of National Geographic available on iPad and iPhone still need slight improvements, but the Android tablet version of this magazine needs a lot more as it is just simply a print replica. Therefore, there are no available interactive features, making its subscription price seem considerably high compared to that of the iPad edition. In order to improve this, as technology develops the Android tablet version could be worked on to eventually include videos, interactive maps and slideshows, because at the moment its readers may as well read the National Geographic website for free instead of paying for a subscription.

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