Porter magazine launched in early 2014, on tablet and on mobile, alongside a glossy print edition, with former Harper’s Bazaar editor Lucy Yeomans, at the helm. It was a gatecrasher of a launch, and every fashion publisher had to sit up and take notice. Two years down the line, and Porter continues to chomp into the circulation numbers of some of the world’s most well known fashion magazines. It hasn’t only done that – its inspired many fashion publishers to launch their own ecommerce ventures – and that notion isn’t going to change anytime soon.
On opening the app, we’re greeted with a swipeable gallery of messages, informing us this app is very easy to use, has won some awards, you can double tap to buy any item, and the obligatory subscriber offer. Price-wise, six issues for £14.99 (€19) is fairly good value, and although a single issue costs £3.99 (€5), they do offer a £1. discount for a rolling twice-monthly sub. If you’re a print edition subscriber, digital access is free, which I’ve always thought is a fair deal and we should see more magazine apps offer this.
Once you get past the offers and opening sequence of dazzling images and prompts, you’re in the simple storefront, which displays all back issues and the current issue. It’s a shame Porter is only six issues a year, and perhaps there’s room for more content including special issues and free sponsored editions. It would also be ideal if new users could sample pages from an issue, or browse the content – and I’m sure Porter would see an uplift in sales if they experimented with sampling and previewing. The ‘archive’ feature is useful, considering my iPad is always close to full!
Although the content in Porter’s digital edition is near identical to its luxurious print sister, the app experience offers a huge selection of shoppable links. E-commerce features across publishing apps will play a larger role in the coming months as publishers push all areas for additional revenue. Like most other magazines, there is the option of a simple ‘tap to buy’ link on the listed products, allowing you to purchase there and then. This isn’t revolutionary but it does mean that those who want the latest fashion, its here – to buy! Each article also has a ‘want to know more?’ section underneath which, as the title suggests, gives extra information on all the people involved in the shoots, the clothes designs and everything else you could need to know about the picture on the page. By attaching everything with a link, one click and you are transported to the home page of that product or designer.
In the current edition, after the cover, we see seven or eight fashion advertisements, surprisingly, none of which had web links included – but – on double-tapping the screen, you get a pop up display of that advertiser’s recommended items to buy and add to the in-app shopping bag (let’s not forget we are in a retail-backed magazine here). And we’re then into the contents page. The magazine breaks down into several sections, including ‘Cover star’ interview and a (stunning) shoot with Golden Globe-winning actress Jessica Chastain, The Fashion Memo, Private Views, Life Lessons, Features – including interviews with Tina Fey, British makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury, and Rashida Jones, Insider Beauty, incredible journeys ‘out of this world’, party highlights from the BAFTAs and the Oscars, and ‘My Golden Rules’ from Salma Hayek. It’s a star-studded affair, stuffed full of sumptuous photo shoots, fabulous fashion to die for, and dripping with luxury must-haves.
Design-wise, Porter’s tablet (and mobile) edition is a classic fashion/art magazine experience, single column grids, plenty of full-page images, a cute variety of delicate serifs for display and reading, swathes of white space, highly simplistic layouts and all very minimalist. It’s a shame that for such a photo-orientated magazine which prides itself on showcasing the world’s most respected designers and artists, this digital edition lacks some simple touchscreen interactive features, such as being able to zoom in on a photo, 360° imagery, which would have added a more ‘alive’ and interactive experience for the digital reader. Having said that, the magazine app experience in general, is beautifully consistent, every issue – and that’s vital for a digital reader, knowing what you are going to get, and how to navigate the content and the storefront.
Yes, the instantly ‘shoppable’ element is Porter’s technical win, but the main magazine USP is the upmarket fashion lover’s reading journey – from its authoritative editorial and clear fresh-fashion nous, to the deft design touches of the art team – it’s as good as any other luxury fashion title in print. In digital terms, this app is one of the very best, eclipsing the likes of Vogue, Elle, and the vast majority of digital magazines across other genres too.
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