The New British is a hard-hitting documentary magazine which ‘celebrates culture in all of its modern aspects’. Here, we take a look at how Issue Zero has fared in its first steps into the digital world.

Initially released as a limited edition print magazine over two years ago, it has since gathered a devoted following to its digital-only native app edition, and is soon to release a second issue titled Legacy.

The Chief Editor, Kez Glozier, is firm in his assertion that “print is dead” ¹. Despite this, there is a definite sense that this is an app version of a print magazine, albeit one that makes full use of the interactive functions of Adobe Digital Publishing Suite.

British counter-culture

In terms of content, The New British is streets ahead thanks to the documentary experience of Kez and other collaborators. With ‘savagely gritty’ interviews, features and photographs, the magazine draws brutally honest portraits of its subjects in a way that works in harmony with its sleek appearance. The download size of almost 700 MB is not surprising, given the extensive photography, animation and audio content. Despite this, it would be great to have been provided with links to some more video content – some of the articles were crying out for additional video.

The relationship between the images and the text is sheer perfection: dynamic, varied in layout and layered between pullquotes and headlines in a way that gives each individual article a ‘wow’ factor. The interactive headlines were also favourite feature of mine. Used sparingly throughout for maximum effect, swiping up into an article could reveal anything from a blood red curtain sweeping across the page, to images splitting as text was revealed.

The strong cover photography only gets better through the edition. It is clear that real thought and care has gone into its appearance, and in an interview with Design Week, Kez clarified that he ‘wanted to keep [the aesthetic] understated. It doesn’t need to shout, the content and the stories carry it’¹.

Not quite pixel perfect

Unfortunately, The New British seemed to have some problems rendering certain articles properly. This left me with a readable but pixellated view of selected stories, which spoiled the effect somewhat.

The copy is also riddled with mistakes, from mid-word hyphens to paragraph errors, and even a chunk of duplicated text in one article. Digital publications have a reputation for skipping the rigorous editorial processes of print, and sadly The New British is one such example. Digital publications have the ability to publish updates and correct these errors quickly; perhaps this is something for the team to bear in mind for the next edition.

Like many others before it, the magazine falls down on the compatibility hurdle. When I tweeted the team (@thenewbrit) to ask why, they explained that they had an exclusive head-start with the Adobe Digital Publishing platform, and had no doubt that they would expand their digital editions across platforms. It would be a difficult set-up to translate across different devices as much of the design is reliant on the iPad’s portrait view. The download size would also have to be significantly trimmed to make it accessible to mobile users.

Still, for a free-of-charge app produced by just a few people, The New British is impressive in both its content and aesthetics. A concise summary was supplied in their press release, and it seems appropriate to quote it here:

‘Unique in its design and innovative in its use of the most current technology, it offers an immersive and visceral impact – it’s more than a magazine. It’s an experience.’
– Kieran Gardner & Ciaran O’Shea²

 The New British is certainly one to watch. Bugs and copy errors aside, the team will continue to push the limits of digital interactivity and engagement. Kez has promised to continue to ‘break the rules’, so I’m forward to seeing what Legacy has to bring.

Design:
★★★★★

Navigation:
★★★★☆

Content:
★★★★☆

Compatibility:
★☆☆☆☆

‘Wow’ factor:
★★★★☆

¹ “Print is dead” – a look inside The New British magazine’s digital future via Design Week
² Press release from The New British, accessed 06.11.2014

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