Designed for Success: Disguising Cutbacks
Nothing is more important than useful content. If you have that, then design can only help to get people to notice it and thence to read it. If your content is mediocre, no visual fireworks will improve it. They may enchant for a while, but in the long run, “Form without substance casts no shadow” (T.S. Eliot). But what if you simply have to cut costs with measures such as switching to saddle-stitching instead of perfect binding, or eliminating UV coating from your covers, or opting for a lower paper grade or cover stock? Can design camouflage the loss? Yes, but not the way you might expect. This is emphatically not the opportunity to deceive with phony, cosmetic, visual “excitement.”
On the contrary. It is an opportunity to establish your presence as a force ever more clearly. You achieve that by emphasizing your product’s special character with consistency from cover to cover. Honestly, the paradox about less being more works.
Here are 10 more techniques to strengthen your publication’s visual appeal, despite any visual cost-cutting measures:
1. Make the most of it by doing the least.
The immediate temptation is to shout louder, distract the reader from the cutbacks. More of everything. But variety DISintegrates. It breaks up the whole into little bits, and it becomes less significant. You want the opposite: to make all individual bits look exactly like what they are—components of an integrated whole. That way, the “whole” looks like more, even if it is, indeed, smaller! Each element adds its own significance to the obviously valuable package the subscriber invests in.
2. Resist the urge to squoosh more on the smaller page.
Don’t overcompensate. Crowding by making type smaller and tighter, and reducing interline spacing are exactly the wrong tactics. It isn’t the number of words the subscriber is impressed by. Nothing turns off potential readers more effectively than too much small type. Fewer words that are better displayed is what readers appreciate. Tiny type draws attention to its own annoying smallness. Bigger-than-expected type is an unexpected pleasure, accepted with gratitude, if it carries valuable content. Will anybody even notice—or care—that the page is a bit smaller and the stock a bit lighter when it carries such marvelous information? Quality trumps volume.