Leaning forward or leaning back

By: Adam Cansino

Leaning, Digital Publishing, Digital Advertising, Digital Marketing, Marketing communications

One of our developers here asked me what was the difference between web based content delivery, and that of digital publishing? As I prepared my answer, my brain had a series of minor panic spasms as I internally counter argued all of my prepared response; the ability to embed rich media, no, the ability to read when required, no. It then struck me that it wasn’t a case of what was different between the two platforms, rather how we engage with them.

Thanks to the ever helpful guidance of google, I stumbled across this brilliant article by

With printed publications, the way we engage with the content is significantly different from the way we do when we’re using our PC. This contrasting engagement style is what we refer to when talking about “Lean back and lean forward”. When engaging with content on a PC, we’re thought to be “leaning forward”, we engage in a high activity engagement style, switching tasks frequently with relatively low sustained attention. On the other hand, with printed materials, the “leaning back” style, is a high absorption engagement style, one of concentrated and long-term sustained attention. In addition both of these engagement styles can be considered to be either “passive”or “thoughtful”. For instance watching TV, or reading simple fiction is seen to be passive, while reading an in-depth piece of investigative journalism or watching a TED talk, more “thoughtful”.

Tablets and digital publishing allows the designer to intelligently deliver the content to suit the intention of the author and the needs of the reader. For example, a publication containing a simple series of stories delivered in a magazine/newsletter style can be “leant back” with over the comfort of a cup of tea, with embedded video for a passive, high absorption read. The authors stories will be absorbed, and the messages from the video engaged with. Happy reader, happy author.

Alternatively, a highly technical research or corporate report can be a more involved and useable document. A lean forward engagement style for highly engaged and thoughtful readers, allowing them the additional tools to delve deeper into the reports findings or dive sideways into other relevant documents and online content.

The digital publishing media is both flexible and relevant, allowing design and content to work in the best way possible to deliver on the authors objectives and the needs of the reader.


Read the full article here: http://johnnyholland.org/2012/03/engagement-styles-beyond-lean-forward-and-lean-back/




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