Change is Good, Ole
How appropriate that the design company behind Cambio, the magazine whose name means change in Spanish, recently announced a switch from QuarkXPress to Adobe InDesign and InCopy. The news magazine, a weekly devoted to business, technology and politics, launched in June 2001 to high expectations and loud media buzz.
Designed to be great
Expectations for Cambio are not by accident, but rather are owed to its impressive genealogy. The magazine is a joint creation of Mexico's Grupo Editorial Televisa, part of the world's largest Spanish-language media company and publisher of more than 45 magazines, and Nobel prize-winning author and journalist, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Danilo Black, the design firm founded by media guru Roger Black and famed Mexican designer Eduardo Danilo Ruiz, oversees design and production.
When it has to look good, now
At a weekly magazine where aesthetics and efficiency are paramount, products that aid in achieving both are always sought after. And with Grupo Editorial Televisa having so many magazines under its umbrella, it is important that any new software they choose be poised to become the industry standard. When InDesign was recommended to them by Danilo Black, they heeded the advice based on their feeling that the software would be the standard of the future. That, along with the fact that "it was more powerful than what was out there on the market," was the reason for the switch, according to Arturo Jimenez, print media art director for Danilo Black. As Cambio was one of the company's newer ventures, the opportunity was perfect to begin using the new software.
Getting to know you
But the initial switch to InDesign was not without its snafus. "In the beginning, it was not 'oh, everything is beautiful.' Some of the designers were not used to the software and we had to train them," states Jimenez. Norma Ramírez Campos, senior design consultant for Danilo Black, elaborates, "One [problem] was with InCopy. They were still organizing the editing process and some stories just slipped through and weren't revised. We had some trouble with diagrams, too. Fonts were printed broken into pixels and with a low resolution. It was finally fixed when the types of files that caused the problem were identified and all adjustments applied." Jimenez notes that now that the designers are familiar with the software they are starting to see advantages in the editing process. He says, "Before designers had to go to another application [to make changes]. Now, they can do it in the same program." Editors are seeing workflow improvements as well. "InCopy is a very interesting system," reports Ramírez Campos. "For Cambio, texts go through several stages: first, the journalist writes a story. After that, the section editor revises the text. On the third stage, the story is proofread and goes to the last stage, where the head editor approves the content and story. InCopy can create a color code for each stage, making it easy for the editor to know what is the status of the story without leaving his or her place."
Another advantage to using InDesign and InCopy is that the relationship between design and editorial has become more integrated. The two groups are able to collaborate more closely because of the relationship between the two products and Adobe's suite of graphics software. "[The production process] has become better. The main advantage is that now we have an integrated system for layout and editing," states Ramírez Campos. "Editors and writers take less time in editing tasks and are capable of getting a full image of the page, including any photographs or graphic resources to be used. I believe InDesign has improved communication between editors and designers." Furthermore, the product integration allows changes to be seen immediately in the InDesign layout whenever Photoshop, Illustrator or InCopy files are altered. "With InDesign and InCopy, editorial can look at how page will actually look while editing, and the process does not have to be interrupted," enthuses Jimenez. Conversely, the designers at Danilo Black are able to incorporate design elements created in Photoshop or Illustrator directly into their page layouts.
Evidence of a collaborative workflow is furthered when comparing the old and new layout processes. Currently, designers can work on magazine page layouts in InDesign while editors simultaneously tweak those same pages on their own machines using InCopy. For added convenience, editors can work in a different channel for every layout. Ramírez Campos explains how the process works: "For example, you may have several layers, one for pictures, one for fixed elements of a master like page numbers or headlines, and another one exclusively for texts. This makes it easier for the editor to manipulate the text without risking the layout." Previously, it was necessary for editors to work on the designers' machines once the layout was complete, slowing down design and production time greatly. Shortly after the new system was in place, Jimenez had the opportunity to not only realize its efficiency, but its effect on quality. "We had an instance where a new reporter came in and had to make changes on a designer's computer. It was at this time a notorious error was made," laughs Jimenez. "And that was because the system was not followed. I thought, this is why we need [InDesign]." To further increase efficiency, Danilo Black plans to take advantage of the softwares' support for WebDAV server technology in the future. This will allow for real-time editing of pages over the Web, resulting in greater time-savings and convenience.
For now, Jimenez is happy with the new software. "I think InDesign is definitely the way the future looks. Sometimes Quark might be more practical because InDesign is so powerful and sometimes is slower," he considers. "I would recommend [to other designers] that they try InDesign. If Quark wants to survive for pagination, they might want to keep designers happy by starting to look like InDesign."