Workflow and responsibilities might have been clearly divided between a magazine’s creative and production executives in the early days of digital design—the days when art directors could simply concentrate on aesthetics, while the production team fretted over the mechanics of getting that design to reproduce in print with integrity.
Today, the lines between the two disciplines are blurred, and creative professionals are increasingly relied upon to manage tasks once associated with production, such as preflighting page files and outputting final-format digital files (PDF/X-1a being the preferred format for publications).
So, it seems fitting that magazine creative folks expect so much more today from a design and layout tool; they need tools to help them create those aesthetically pleasing pages, but also to enable them to work faster, more efficiently and in a variety of mediums.
“I am most concerned with how the tool works in my overall production workflow—inside the office, as well as with customers and service providers,” explains Casey Kiernan, publisher of Extreme Boats Magazine.
Equally important, however, is how “user friendly” the tool is for the art director.
For example, George Lohin, art director for What’s Up Kids Family Magazine and a fan of Adobe InDesign, says that even the smallest time-consuming tasks add up. “The keyboard commands, menus, etc., [in InDesign] are similar, if not identical to, the rest of Creative Suite. This just means I have more time to think about designing and creating, than wasting my time saying to myself, ‘What was that command in Quark again?’ ” he says.
Though for many years QuarkXPress was the only game in town for magazine layout, Adobe InDesign infringed upon Quark’s solo reign more than a decade ago. Today, the two programs each have their die-hard fans. And both solutions have evolved in recent years to build in features that have significantly improved ease of use, as well as enabled collaboration and integration with other applications.