Alternate Horizontal and Vertical Layouts – are they really necessary?

Alternate Layouts graphic.

That’s a headline intended to create controversy. I’m working with Adobe Digital Publishing Suite CS6 to publish a fiction monthly. The thing was really under control until I learned about alternate layout, or liquid layout. It’s a way of making a vertical page re-design itself, somewhat automatically, into a horizontal layout. And a true digital publication – which is not an epub, but actually an application – that you download to your tablet device should really have two layouts. But those of us who have actually done design for multiple devices, and multiple layouts for each of those devices know that it is really a pretty big project (pain point). So I ask, if you are reading an ink and paper magazine, and enjoying its glossy papery goodness, but then you switch to your Kindle Fire and read the digital version, do you really expect or even feel entitled to a horizontal version? For example; The New Yorker, I think, is one of the best designed digital magazines out there. It’s made with Adobe’s DPS, and the experience is excellent without calling attention to itself. And it has no horizontal version (at present, anyway). It makes use of scrolling pages, audio links, a way to view all the cartoons at once – which is something we all do anyway – it is a lot more than the print version, not simply a .pdf of the magazine made available digitally (Runner’s World, I’m looking at you) So while I’m going to soldier on through this design in both layouts, are there any strong opinions out there? (full disclosure; I work at Adobe, so while I talk up DPS, it’s not only because it is a truly awesome product for publishing, I also say it because I’ve got mouths to feed.)

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  1. denise says:

    As a publisher, I would like to think that vertical is sufficient. As a designer, I love the opportunities for creativity that alternate orientation offers. As a user, I am annoyed by anything that forces me to consume in portrait, because I have yet to find a comfortable stand for reading that way and much prefer the horizontal. So conflicted!

  2. Laura Bonaguro says:

    In my opinion double orientation should be a way to show the content doubles. I mean, horizontal is better for video, while in vertical text is read more easily. The hard part is connecting the story you’re telling with a design that harmoniously combines what is said. I like the ability to create a dialogue between the two sides. I believe this can give much respect to a single layout, especially in cases where the proposed material is plentiful and varied. In cases where the communication project works well in one, choose according to the discriminating video horizontally seems generally more suitable. However, I think the matter is to be evaluated case by case and managed to the best of his possibilities. :-)