Inverse is a beautifully designed web magazine [should Web be capitalized?], a Joshua Topolsky joint alongside a stable of others that I’ve noticed are designwise a cut above what else is out there — Input, which is similar to Inverse and actually the two seem to unhelpfully overlap — and W, a women’s fashion mag also published by Bustle Digital Group that I normally wouldn’t have noticed but am enjoying the design.
Yet outstanding web artisanship notwithstanding, can a magazine survive if it feels ultimately corporate, which seems a danger when the job title changes from co-founder or Editor-in-Chief to Chief Content Officer, Culture & Innovation?
In Inverse the writing itself feels pretty generic, more relentless plodding coverage, less tours-de-force by experts. Article after article appears on a single scroll; you never reach the end of the page, and although this is convenient, I’ve never liked this innovation, I feel overwhelmed and exhausted by it. While the pages as a whole are gorgeous, I am not reading the articles; the san-serif body text looks like it’s less to be read than looked at. Also, it’s is too far to the right on the screen. And there’s a little wobble.
From the case study by web shop Code and Theory, it appears Input and Inverse have been merged onto the same content management system, and Input was Topolsky’s technology mag baby but BDG also acquired science and entertainment site Inverse from elsewhere. No wonder the overlap.
They have a rationale for the infinite scroll:
In a world where scrolling through feeds feels second-nature, we designed Input and Inverse without traditional homepages. Upon landing on inputmag.com or inverse.com, readers see an infinite scroll of stories. Each story offers a snippet—the headline, maybe a quote, or a key stat, along with some information. The reader can then expand that story in the feed to read more, or continue scrolling.
When one story finishes, users scroll right back into the infinite stream of stories.
The stream can also be interrupted by rocks—curated content modules, e-commerce breakers and other fun interactive moments for the reader.
I may be just not representative of what most people like to do on the web, but I think this is misguided. On an infinite scroll, you become a skimmer. Now maybe skimming is what you actually want people to be doing on your site, not really reading the articles, thereby perhaps seeing and acting more on ads? All well and good, but skimming is less valuable and satisfying than reading an article set in a serif where the page ends when the article ends. If I read a piece, I want to feel I’ve read a piece.
One more thing: none of the subtitles has been informative but neither are they witty, rather they demonstrate design rather than content leading.