The demo of a new online interface for Sports Illustrated, based on HTML5, does a good job of showing off fancy magazine layout in a screen-friendly format. But it falls down when you look closely – when you tear your eyes away from the action photos and try to read the text.
Like all those current e-books, this e-magazine falls down in simple text typography. The text of the articles is justified, yet there’s no hyphenation. When your text composition engine doesn’t even hyphenate the word “grandmother” at the end of a loose line, it’s just not doing its job.
The page designers at Sports Illustrated make it even harder by shoving intrusive pull-quotes into the main text block and wrapping the text around them. This is a bad enough at any time (it says, in effect, “we don’t care about the words, just the shape”), but it’s inexcusable when you can’t even hyphenate those extra-short lines next to the pull-quotes. Text wrap and justification rarely work together. (Anybody heard of a multi-column grid?)
Oh yes, and the pull-quotes use straight apostrophes. With a non-typewriter typeface.
In a tweet today, after seeing the demo, Roger Black called it “The best digital magazine . . . yet!” Which may be true – but if so, there’s still a long way to go.
[Images at left from the YouTube video about the HTML5 new prototype.]