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February 28, 2007

Entry 6: Future of Magazines?

As a self proclaimed environmentalist (I use the term loosely), I'm all for cutting down on the use of materials. But it'll be an uphill battle.

I think we're not that far away from more and more businesses becoming paperless offices, but it only seems to be catching on in the younger, more contemporary businesses. And generally, magazine print houses are old, established powerhouses.

I see technology as being the major hinderance of doing away with print magazines. Right now, most people would rather not read for an extended period on a screen. Although, this may change in the near future with digital tablets that will function as books.

While we may not be there yet, I do think in the near future, printing will become less and less prominent. But not because people would rather buy new technology, but because people will demand their information faster and faster. Web 2.0 and Really Simple Syndication are still in their infancy and are really only being talked about by the online community, but the technology is so user friendly that everyone can use it and see the advantages of it, its just getting people to try these new fangled things thats the hard part. People just get use to doing things a certain way and are reluctant to change, and thats the battle that the digital magazine will have to compete with. There will have to be certain features of the digital magazine that'll encourage people to use it (like archiving content, searchable information, interactivity, etc).

Entry 5: Magazine Research Dicovery

It's pretty obvious from researching BusinessWeek what they consider important and where their bucks go.

As a creative I may be a little bias, but if what BusinessWeek charges for their advertising is any indication, they are raking in the dough and none of it is going to improve upon their communication. But I may just be a naive college student; I believe this is how most corporations are being run.

According to the Ulrich Periodicals Directory, BusinessWeek charges approximately $85,000 for a full page, color ad. It doesn't specify the run time, but this is a weekly publication. Its my belief that the majority of a magazines revenue would come from return readers/subscribers, but that advertising money obviously isn't going into the presentation of the magazine (maybe to the highly paid writers? Big wigs? who knows). I think this may go back to the cold hard truth that the "money people" (read "people in charge") don't value strong communication design, because it doesn't provide a tangible return. If a company spends $200,000 on a design overhaul in print/web/identity/presence, and their readership increases 15%, that monetary gain alone doesn't offest the investment. They can't even say what it was that increased readership, maybe they had more interesting articles? Maybe people had more disposable income? But the value of the redesign will show itself in years to come, it'll become more popular, etc.

Basically, my magazine research has reaffirmed my belief that in-house designers are seen as a service, rather than a professional in communication arts, and are paid and respected as such. I hope that I can be proven wrong, because there are cushy in-house jobs to go for, but it seems I need to get my foot into a design firm to be taken seriously in the future.

So lookout BusinessWeek, in the land of 12pt body text and broken columns, the designer is king.

February 19, 2007

Entry 4: Ad Type

For the magazine redesign assignment, I chose to look at BusinessWeek. And when paging through the magazine, one advertisement that caught my eye was for British Airways.

I was blown away when researching BusinessWeek that they charge approximately $85,000 for a full page color advertisement (no idea how long the run time is), then after flipping through the magazine, never finding a really significant ad. Because of the steep price tag, there are only a handful of markets that can even afford (I'm assuming) advertise in here, plus this is a somewhat specific demographic. Almost all the ads are for medicine (Lunesta, Siemens), technology (cisco, HP, Sprint), or transportation (planes, jets, cars).

But almost all these ads seemed pretty cookie cutter. Is it because of the companies? The reader demographic? Or because they're blowing their whole advertising budget just to get something in the magazine. Whatever the reason, few ads were anything I would look twice at. However, there was an ad for British Airways that was interesting. It was adverstising there flatbed service for the businessman on the go, and all the major hubs they fly in and out of. The bedding is a map, and all the cities are positioned on the sheets, with bigger cities in larger type. The type is knocked out, and some gets pretty small, but there is enough contrast to keep it readable. The body keep was a sans face in a sort of slab style, and was full justified, but there weren't any awkward rivers or major gaps.

The more modern type choices, and strong contrasting colors really made this ad pop out amongst the rest of the magazine.

February 6, 2007

Entry 3: Magazine Layout

Find a magazine you like or dislike. Discuss the design and layout of the magazine.

adbusters cover

For the most part, the magazines I read (since they are things I'm interested in) are well designed. And I read things across a variety of demographics. One magazine I was just paging through was Adbusters, and I enjoyed turning every page. I know Adbusters likes to be on the cutting edge of things and all their spreads were very post modern. From a design stand point, I liked how they looked at every spread as a new challenge. They don't really take certain layout things for granted. Whenever I've designed spreads for newsletters and stuff, there's always a style that is maintained, so certain problems are already solved. So I see what they have done as quite an accomplishment, because they still maintain a coherent magazine. And every new spread tells a new story.