Five Principles of Magazine Design

Five Principles of Magazine Design


Digital magazines are very different from their print counterparts because of the nature of the medium. Tablet devices and modern technology offer such extensive and innovating story telling tools that an article can now escape its confines of the printed page and connect with the reader in a more emotional level.

Some publishers have taken this to heart and modern digital magazines – those that go beyond page flippers, are a treat to read. In fact, they transform reading into an experience.

That being said, there are many magazines out there that have gone overboard. Reminiscent of the early days of the Internet, many digital magazines sport nothing but bells and whistles. Content and impact seem muted next to the garish display of technological gimmicks and flashy effects.

Such magazines can put a reader off and diminish their experience. With that in mind, to help publishers and editors, we have put together a set of five principles that every magazine should adopt (if they haven’t already) to give a better experience for the reader.

Establish Congruence with the Brand

Each brand has its own flavour. Some are elegant and subtle while others are more bright and peppy. This distinction has to be kept in mind while designing the ‘user interface’ – the way the magazine looks, and while designing the ‘user experience’ – the way the magazine works.

Less is More

If you’re considering adding another feature that does not add value to the reader – either in terms of consuming the content or improving the experience, choose to leave it out. It’s safer to err on the side of caution than to leave the reader confused or irritated.

If in doubt, Say No

Building on the concept of ‘Less is More’, do not add a feature unless you have confirmed, via testing, that readers actually want the said feature. Web design and development has the concept of A/B testing and alpha & beta testing that can be adapted easily into the magazine design and production processes. These testing efforts will give editors the clarity they need to remove all doubt.

Design for the Medium

Tablet devices offer a brand new multi dimensional canvas on which stories can be told. This is a huge departure from the traditional printing press. However, as pioneers have discovered, designing for the medium and not being fettered by the constraints of the printed page yields tremendous freedom in storytelling and new opportunities to engage the reader.

Keep the Reader in Mind

At the end of the day, a magazine is designed to convey information and kindle emotion in the reader. From Newton’s “Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy” to Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series, words on paper have moved the hearts and minds of millions. That is the power of the content. They evoke thought and emotion in the reader.

The digital magazine is no different. The content is important. It’s purpose is paramount. While designing the magazine, the content should be delivered in a way that is easy for the reader to consume. The gimmicks and feature adds should be secondary.

In summary, adopting these five principles will give your magazine an immediate boost in terms of aesthetics, experience and reader satisfaction.

Do leave a comment below to share your thoughts and experiences about the Five Principles.

This article was written on 9 Jan , 2015.  

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