Editorial Design | Cover, Layout, Typesetting, & Content
The idea for creating a new business magazine grew from my frustration with the soundbite form that many business articles (both print and on the web) have taken lately. I know all the research behind attention spans, and the need to respond to the fast pace of life. And that is all true, to some extent.
I reasoned that, sometimes, it is good to take time to actually let the higher brain functions work. That is the idea behind the long-form articles and discussion format used in corner.
Utilizing sample long-form articles culled from the internet, I created a system for a quarterly business magazine. Comprised of 10 departments, the magazine is composed of over 140 pages of content; each section is from two to over 30 pages, depending on the article and topic. Read like a literary magazine, but providing insights into how other entrepreneurs operate and deal with the day-to-day challenges inherent in the business world.
A B2B Magazine Concept “Dedicated to contemplating life for those who think only of work.”
As a design challenge, my goals were simple: accommodate on the order of 40,000 words, roughly 100 pages, of content and to visually structure it to be comfortable enough to read for extended periods, like a book, but also skimmable and something you can set down and pick back up later, like a magazine.
My research included a variety of magazines, from literary journals to business publications, as well as sectioned books such as annuals. Typography, color, visual style were all considered in a series of mood boards presented for critique. These boards would serve to center the publication as design progressed. Since this only a design concept, I pulled content from a variety of sources on the internet, to serve as realistic placeholders.
A stylistic direction in hand, and sample content to experiment with, I began the process of designing the pages. Starting from sketches of generalized page layouts, I moved quickly to designs that favored a clear horizon and footer line, with alternate versions for a single column and two-column variants. I imagined breaking the horizon and standard layouts to add visual interest.
The design quickly progressed from the initial sketches into a robust reader format. I made use of several prototype mock-ups to ensure that the “hand feel” really worked, confirming my initial idea of value of a roughly 6" x 9" design.
Wide outer margins would also prove functional, as well as aesthetic, when holding the magazine in-hand (as opposed to sitting on a table).
With a basic page structure in mind, I filled out several articles worth of content to see how well it worked.
Standing back to look at the overall feel really helps with visual issues such as page weight, rhythm, visual interest. Testing is important in this phase, to avoid the labor intensive work of propagating changes later in the process.
Far more than eye candy, these aesthetic considers are vital to ensuring continued reader engagement throughout the magazine, and essential to telling the story through the visual narrative as much as the textual one.
While it is true, the editorial content is king for a project such as this; but it if isn’t supported by the visual design, readers will quickly turn away—bad for any publication, but absolutely deadly for a periodical.
Through the naming of the project, single-word, short, poignant names were tested. The corner reference hit the mark for the defined audience: “corner office,” “corner store,” and “turn the corner” are all phrases that came to mind. And with a tagline of “Dedicated to contemplating life for those who think only of work,” an identity was loosely defined: business… with an intellectual style.
The corner logo flowed naturally from the name. After a few attempts to bring a 3D aspect into play, I settled on a simple, flat design of a square on a contrasting background, activated by cropping the tightly tracked name, set in the ubiquitous DIN typeface.
I felt this logo favored a simple cover design, echoing the square logo, but also incorporating textures and patters. Three covers were built out to fully establish the way the logo would operate, shunning a single color palette in favor of seasonally appropriate contrasting color pairs. This color pairing then became a visual theme throughout each issue.
Refinement… reader engagement
To help manage the content, I split the magazine apart into each of the principle departments, both within the visual structure as well as the document’s structure in Adobe InDesign.
A predictable, intuitive structure is key to making a reader feel comfortable within a publication; surprises and puzzles are welcome diversions, but not at the expense of ease-of-use. It is a balancing act.
Additional refinements included the visual puzzle of the endpaper images (uncaptioned pictures referencing interior content), the color coordinated corner endmark, and the square motif employed as section divider lines.
In addition, a number of playful gestures were made, including periodic but deliberate violations of the basic page structure, the color coordinated alternate paper used for the “serious” sections, and this full text back cover summary of the entire issue.
Opening spreads are one area where I felt free to add a bit more fun. A Combination of bold color fields and large imagery both delineated each article, and set the visual tone for what was to follow. Each article became an independent playground for me.
Learn more about my design process and corner magazine with the book “The Making of Corner Magazine” published on Issuu.