ISSUU'S TASTY BITS & BYTES
VOLUME 1 ISSUE 1
The new issuu
THE #NEWISSUU ISSUE
Meet the #newissuu reading experience.
Editor in Chief Alette Holmberg-Nielsen Writer Joel Barnard Creative Director Nicole Chiala Guest Illustrator Maya Gürtler Lorentzen
The issuuees: Alexander Grosse, Amalie Rosenstand, Anders Hellerup Madsen, Anders Fugmann, Andreas Dahl, Andrei Ungureanu, Cameron Gallacher, Christian Kastbjerg, Denise Twum, Elise Sabbag, Fabio Stabel, Fernando Romero, Francesco Zanitti, Frej Soya, Grace Cheung, Greta Baranauskaité, Jesper Torp Kristensen, Jesper Holm Olsen, Joe Hyrkin, John Sturino, Jonas Nielsen, Joshua Davis, Karen Mørkholt, Kenneth Skovhus, Lasse Bach, Laurits Langberg, Louise Gonzalez Lauridsen, Maciej Pekala, Mads Sejersen, Marie Bjerregaard, Martin Koch, Matt B., Michael England, Michelle Yang, Mie Tandrup, Mikkel Jensen, Musharrif Hussain, Nicolai Gylling, Paul Kim, Peter Assentorp, Rachel Torres, Rob Siwek, Rolf Ussing, Simon Ellefsen, Slavko Krucaj, Slawomir Smiechura, Søren Thomsen and Yan Hong. The issuu Interns: Anisa Tavangar, Ashley Zhang, Jessica Wong, Joseph Kind, Kaija Hsiao and Maya Kandell. The issuu Production Babies: Frode, Issac, Lea, Lucjia and Naja. Special Thanks: Fredrik Linåker, Juan Jose Romano, Jiyu Zhang, Jonas B. Jensen, Mads Hartmann, Raghav Karol, Sorin Dimofte and Søren Vind. This publication was created using Adobe InDesign. The project workflow was managed seamlessly using issuu Collaborate, the easiest way to plan and produce publications in one place.
Carefully Crafted, Freshly Squeezed When I joined issuu as a Senior
we still questioned everything
Product Owner exactly one year
and chose better over faster.
ago, the thing I first noticed was the care and passion with which
With this premier issue of
everything here is crafted. From
ORANGE JUICE we’ll share the
the beautiful content being
story of our remarkable year-
uploaded by publishers to the
long journey. It’s definitely not
animated discussions of technical
your typical tech story about a
architecture, an acute attention
shiny new feature or an amazing
to detail was everywhere I looked.
growth story. It’s much grittier
These were definitely my kind
than that. Our story is about the
dedication, hard work and sheer guts necessary to rebuild the very
During my first week at issuu, I
core of a massive existing product.
was thrown into a major project
And we figured what better vehicle
— at the time no one knew how
to tell our story than the one
big it was going to be — rewriting
that hundreds of thousands of
the core of issuu from scratch.
issuu publishers use to tell theirs
Initially, we were driven by the
each month. It’s also the perfect
upcoming changes in the browsers
opportunity for us to show
(i.e. the slow death of Flash).
off all the big little details we’ve
However, as we started digging
built into issuu’s incredible new
into it, it turned out to be so much
more than just about technology. We were re-engineering and
redesigning issuu to be ready for the future. Despite working under
taxing deadlines, I’m proud to say
Editor in Chief
When Life Gives You Oranges...
Words by Joel Barnard Illustrations by Maya GĂźrtler Lorentzen With the world changing around us, the issuu team saw an opportunity to reimagine the reading experience from the inside out while keeping true to the original issuu vision. Time wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t on our side, but our aim to deliver a stellar reading experience everywhere and our commitment to quality was.
If there’s one constant in the
had faced before — could we
technology game, it’s change.
change the experience millions
The better, faster, smarter
of people already love in ways
version is always just around
that would make them love it
the corner. Sometimes no one
even more? Would it be possible
sees it coming. Sometimes its
to rebuild such a large plane
arrival date is plastered on every
mid-flight? And how much
blog, bus and billboard. And in
time would we have to do it?
the case of the imminent demise
One thing we knew for certain
of browser and mobile support
is we would stay true to our
for Flash (the core technology
philosophy of not rushing
issuu’s reading experience was
products to market that we couldn’t be proud of. Of course,
I was really excited to work on this project because we had a chance to rethink all the past established practices. We didn’t do things the same way, just because that’s how they were always done. Instead, we searched for the absolute best way to deal with each task.
this time the stakes were much
— Maciej Pękala, Engineer
Senior Product Owner, Alette
higher. It was a race we couldn’t lose. And yet, no one knew if doing things the right way would allow us to reach the finish line in time.
All or Nothing By mid-2015, we began by putting together a rock-solid engineering team tasked with finding a solution. This included several long-standing issuu engineers, plus some newer brains, like the project’s Holmberg-Nielsen. In the very
built on), it has been a long time
early days of the project, our
coming. Smartphones never had
end goal wasn’t completely
(real) Flash support, and the
clear and a vision had yet to
desktop browsers announced
be formed. We were driven by
they would finally be pulling the
the slow death of Flash in the
plug “sometime” in 2016.
browsers, but according to Alette, “It quickly turned out
Staring down the barrel of this
this could not — and should not
unknown deadline, we faced
— be only about a technology
the dilemma other companies
change. Really, it had to be about
Anders Lead / Back-end
Alette Product Owner
Setting Up the Team The team was set up with people having different experience, skill sets and personalities. Four developers had worked on various aspects of our previous reading experiences. Three developers, the product owner and the designer were new. Team members had a mix of artisan, science and philosophical backgrounds, and everyone was highly motivated. One key to our success was our ability to listen to each other (even during heated discussions) and treat each other with respect. We also had a good balance of agitators and moderators. All meetings were open to everyone on the team and those in attendance understood their roles. We almost always pair programmed. And rather than having only experienced people making decisions, we gave newer members a bigger voice, which worked out surprisingly well. SĂ¸ren D. Thomsen Director of Engineering
making sure issuu remained the best reading experience on every device and browser everywhere.” Not a group content doing things halfway, we set off on a quest to redesign, re-engineer and reimagine what has always
Beautifully Brainy Responsive, instantaneous, discoverable goodness.
been issuu’s core product — the reading experience. And
As a company, we never stand still (or go backwards). We create, respond to our customers problems and work hard to make issuu a better place for everyone. — Greta Baranauskaité, Customer Support Associate
Same Embed, Everywhere With a newly redesigned embed, your publications are a lot more responsive, interactive, branded and incredibly consistent no matter where they are on the web.
No-Wait Loading In addition to a more user-friendly
we would do it using HTML5,
layout, the new issuu reading
the new gold standard in
experience is much more snappy and
technology. It wasn’t the first
responsive. Opening any publication
time we had attempted to build
on the page is nearly instantaneous.
an HTML5 reading experience, but our previous attempts never exceeded what Flash
Discovery Made Easy
could deliver. This time things had to be different. But would
Redesigned shelves below the
there be enough time?
publication and added “Read More” section so it’s easier than
Less, but Better
ever to discover something new,
When we started digging deep
including similar publications,
into the core of the Flash
recommendations and the
reading experience, we quickly
publisher’s back catalog.
While having a beautiful browsing experience when you flip through pages, we now make it much more natural to start reading and dive into the content. Â â&#x20AC;&#x201D;Anders Fugmann, Team Lead
Obvious Always Wins
Easy on the Eyes
Improved navigational elements,
Uploaded files are split into layers
like page arrows moved off the publication, which has increased the number of pages people are reading.
of high-res JPEGs and text layers to enable crisp, clean text thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s easy to read at all zoom levels. Even the 5pt. disclaimer type that your insurance company doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want you to read.
realized this seemingly simple product was a big beast filled with many features added over the years. Getting a complete overview felt almost like an archeological dig. In total, we were faced with 70 or so different features to implement. Even if we could throw together a
So we asked ourselves what is absolutely essential to the issuu reading experience. feature per week (which would be impossible), it would take over a year to get to the first release. Not exactly within our timeframe. So we asked ourselves what is absolutely essential to the issuu reading experience. To
Page Flip Heaven
answer that question, we trawled through all the comments from our publishers and we studied
If you havenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t noticed by now, a
the behavior of our readers. We
completely new page flip animation,
focused our efforts on a simple
which is better than anything else
and intuitive interface for
out there. Slowly lift a corner to see
reading, crystal-clear text and
what we mean.
a beautiful home-brewed page flip animation. And without question, all features needed to work everywhere â&#x20AC;&#x201D; on small and
Throughout the process Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been amazed at what a small team can accomplish and what a difference a relatively small company can make for millions of people who enjoy independent publications. â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Alette Holmberg-Nielsen, Senior Product Owner
large screens, as well as on all touch, mouse and trackpad devices. Trying to get everything to work flawlessly everywhere ate up a lot more of our time than expected. Needless to say, the calendar pages kept on turning
Truth Is a Compass Knowing we had to get things absolutely right, continuous feedback from users became an indispensable development tool. Every week we set up tests asking users to complete a series of tasks and then speak about their pain points while being recorded. And
Building the Right Thing The biggest challenge we faced during the development of the new experience was creating a modern, responsive, beautiful and functional UI. With the new version we revisited all the decisions that had been made in the past, and made a new interface based on user tests, A/B testing and of course the considerable experience of our excellent UI and UX designers. Anders Hellerup Madsen Frontend Developer
every week, we refined and released a new and improved version. We tested the version currently in wide use, as well as our latest build
Making It All Hum
of the new reading experience.
To me, the biggest challenge has
Watching people struggle is
been performance analysis and
painful enough, but when it’s with
improvement, since one of our
something millions of people are
goals was to provide a smooth
already using, it’s absolutely heart-
experience while zooming, panning
wrenching. For example, nearly
or page-flipping. The performance
every single test subject tried using
is measured by monitoring the
our current looking glass icon
frame rates during animations,
to zoom in instead of its actual
based on all of the new version’s
purpose — in-publication search.
traffic. Our dashboard displays the numbers on a timeline, grouped by
Could a handful of users possibly
browsers and devices, labeled with
be representative of the millions
each release. Every time that chart
of people using issuu? When we
changes dramatically, we try to
started talking about these user
understand what our code is doing
tests, it was one of the most asked
and fix the problems.
questions. Well, some things you only need to see a few times to
know it’s dreadfully broken. Like
when we discovered how
experience was building
our testers on mobile devices
within the company as well.
kept unintentionally bringing
Customer Support Associate
up the drawer with related
Greta Baranauskaité may have
publications and weren’t able to
summed it up best when she
close it again.
said, “As a company, we aren’t ever standing still. We create,
As painful as it is to see
respond to our customers
someone on the other side of
problems and work hard to
the screen struggle, it’s equally
make issuu a better place for
rewarding to see when person
The team was set up with people having different experience, skill sets and personalities. Some had an artisan mindset, others had a science mindset and still others had a philosophical mindset. The one similarity was that everyone who joined was highly motivated. —Søren D. Thomsen, Director of Engineering after person successfully uses
Leading up to our November
your product without friction.
launch, we continued to
When users don’t even notice
release to new sets of audiences
the thing you worked so hard
and talked to a wide range
on and only see the content
of publishers and readers.
they came to read, you know
Their positive reaction to the
you’ve succeeded. For every gut-
new reading experience was
punching blow we experienced,
even greater than we could
we were rewarded with new
have imagined. Not only did we
insights that for every iteration
manage to solve all the usability
led to a much better user
issues we wanted, readers were
now able to view publications on issuu with crystal-clear text,
The Final Push
more vibrant colors and twice
With the rush to the finish
as fast as before. We were finally
line, excitement for the new
ready to go live.
Achieving Crystal-Clear Text
We are thrilled to announce
We chose a seemingly simple
the newly redesigned, re-engineered issuu reading experience is here. Reading is faster, smoother and more pleasing to the eye. Discovering new publications couldn’t be easier. And the new experience is much more consistent across every platform, device and web browser. So far readers and publishers are loving the new and improved reading experience, which gives us great pride. All the work we’ve done to date is the foundation we will use to introduce exciting new products and features for readers and publishers everywhere very soon. Until then, happy reading!
solution to display crystal-clear text that’s easier to read — even when zoomed in close. The process involves separating text and graphics into several layers, then drawing them on top of one another. Unfortunately, extracting text isn't as straightforward as it might seem. That’s because instead of containing text, PDFs typically only reference letters in the embedded font. If those letters aren’t at their expected positions, the wrong text is likely to be extracted. Getting it right across millions of publications is a huge and important task, and we left nothing to chance. In addition to dialing in our proprietary extraction software, countless hours have been spent looking through publication after publication to make sure all text was extracted and presented correctly. We also built in an automated process that ensures the outcome is pixel perfect every time. Mads Sejersen Software Engineer
More Juicy Bits Ahead At issuu, we continuously roll out improvements to our products. Even though this new reading experience is a huge change, it’s no different in the sense that we always break larger projects into multiple releases and ship them one at a time. With this project we’ve already rolled out the majority of the biggest changes to the issuu reading experience. Hopefully you’ve already noticed the performance improvements and the experience’s new look and feel. But wait, there’s more! In the coming months we’ll continue to optimize for speed and release other features that will make the reading experience even better on all devices, browsers and screen sizes. This new and improved issuu is the foundation for our future. We’re thrilled you’re along for the ride, and we can’t wait to share what else we have in store.
Meet Peter Assentorp Peter Assentorp has been
Developer at an advertising
the designer of issuuâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new
agency called Gottlieb & Co.
reading experience from the
After three years there, I stumbled
Since: July 2014
very beginning. His experience in designing for mobile and his rapid prototyping skills have been crucial to the success of the project.
upon an issuu job opening while searching for something else online. It turns out they were close to removing the job posting because they already had several strong candidates in the queue. I feel very lucky to have landed
What was your path to issuu?
a digital communications agency
What is your favorite thing about working at issuu?
before pursuing my degree in
I really like the culture, the people
marketing management. Shortly
and the freedom you have here.
after graduation I landed a job as
There is always room to grab a
a Digital Designer and Frontend
coffee or play ping pong to get the
I started my professional career as a junior designer/developer at
Favorite issuu publishers: Sport Magazine
so many smart brains every day.
What has been your biggest challenge this past year?
I feel human here. If I had
Without a doubt designing the
to choose my favorite thing
new issuu from the bottom up.
about working here I’d probably
It definitely wasn’t an easy task
say being able to touch so many
to redesign the core product that
people's lives around the world
has served us well for almost
feels pretty good. It’s sometimes
a decade — and is the reason
crazy to think that what I’m
why we still exists today. It was
designing is going to be seen
especially tough to think many
and used by millions of people
steps ahead while designing to
ensure that all the pieces would
blood flowing again and it also feels great to be surrounded by
Favorite issuu publishers: frrresh Magazine
fit together in the future since we
What is your favorite issuu core value and how do you live it? favorite. It’s so important for a
What part of the new reading experience are you most proud of?
company of our size. Ownership
I’m mostly proud of how we’ve
to me means taking responsibility
unified our reading experience.
and never assuming it’s someone
In the past we’ve had different
else’s problem. If I see something
interfaces for different browsers
that doesn’t work or doesn’t look
— meaning the interface would
right, I’ll try fixing it myself first.
change depending on whether
If I can’t, then I’ll find a person
or not your browser has Flash.
who has the skills to help me
Even though it's being used
get it done.
by more people all the time, it's
I’d say ownership is probably my
couldn’t build everything at once.
How do you think readers and publishers are going to react to the new reading experience?
It’s always fun to look back at the designs and prototypes I had in the beginning and see how it has evolved over time into something much simpler and better.
It’s a pretty big change we’ve
—Peter Assentorp, UX Designer
been a technical challenge to maintain. It’s been our goal for more than a year to have one codebase and one interface. I’m really amazed at how the entire company has rallied together to finally reach that milestone.
made to the whole reading experience. Not only have the publisher embeds changed but also the reading experience on issuu.com. Everything has a brand new look and feel, which I think both publishers and readers will love once they start playing around with it. We’ve really spent a lot of time ensuring that they're getting the best possible reading experience.
Be beautifully brainy with us. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re looking for new issuuees to be part of our next big idea. Join us and help change the future of publishing today.