Why, When and How to Redesign Your Magazine
Cluttered? Confusing? Old-fashioned? Boring? There are so many clichés about the look of your publication, and “redesign” is seen as their panacea. Unfortunately, redesigning a magazine is a very difficult process, because every publication is unique unto itself. Its problems are peculiar to its subject, its target audience, its established personality, its writing, the expectations it evokes—you name it.
Since it is unique, it is misleading to look at someone else’s before/after redesign, try to figure out what they did and why they did it, and then attempt grafting bits of it you “like” onto your own pub. It doesn’t work. You have to dig deeper.
Why do it? Define your reasons.
* Is your magazine looking a bit dated when compared to its direct competition? When the competition is gaining, it forces you to look at yourself, and that is always a good thing. Don’t compare yourself to all the glamorous stuff on the newsstands—you’re bound to get depressed. Designers do that and no wonder they are frustrated.
* Were you a bit embarrassed when your airplane seatmate insisted on seeing your product, and you felt the need to explain? Is the seatmate already your subscriber or a potential one? If so, pay attention. If not, who cares?
* Are you sure you are losing market share because your product compares shabbily with the others? A “design” is merely the outward skin that covers a multitude of sins. Changing it may achieve nothing but a temporary camouflage, if what is inside continues rotting.
* Can you be sure that a magazine page torn out and hung on the wall by itself is from nobody else’s magazine but yours? Don’t be surprised. Constant tinkering in every issue has imperceptibly altered what your “style” may have started out as. Maybe all you need is a spring cleaning.