Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Page Turning -- does it help the reader?

Many of the digital magazine systems that use a 'file download' approach allow the user to 'turn the page' herself, eg by pointing and clicking to the bottom right hand corner of a virtual page. The page then moves across the screen before your amazed eyes to lay out a new two page spread (or a full single page if that's your preference). Click on this link to find a page-turning example.

At an early stage our programmers produced code for such a page-turning option. It would be straightforward to introduce it to the Exact Editions system. It does not significantly impact on the computer resources used, but we are not convinced that it really helps the user. We have a suspicion that it is used by some of the other systems because the moment or two that it takes for the page-turning to be complete allows the software to retrieve and build the next page. The page-turning effect is really being used to conceal or distract from the fact that the software doesnt work fast enough in real time. A sour-grapes reaction? Perhaps but there is no question that a speed reader, who is actually using the web to read a substantial body of material, is soon going to be irritated by the mechanical sameness of a page-turning eleent to the software. Google do not have such a page-turning feature on their Google Book Search, but Google is not right about everything. If you think we should offer page-turning please leave a note in the comments area.


Anonymous said...

You could always make the page-flipping a feature that the user could turn on or turn off. After all, that's what the sample you're linking to offers.

Keith said...

Pretty late as a reply, but I agree that providing it as an option could be *an* answer. There is another way though...

What's worth considering is that the page turning 'trick' is normally offered as (1) a user-drag thing, where it takes as long as the user cares to drag it across, AND as (2) a fixed-speed effect if the user just clicks on the page corner.

It is the fixed-speed thing that could let you have your eye-candy cake and eat it too: make the fixed-speed transition effect fast - not so fast that it might as well not be there, but fast enough to be no bother for any but the fussiest speed reader.