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Is it Time to Redesign Your Magazine?

Vee Banionis

at Design tips

When is it time to redesign a magazine? Maybe the question should be, “When is it ever a good time for a magazine redesign?”

While it may not be a fun thing to contemplate, it can be fun if you approach it right. And a good opportunity to redesign your magazine may be whenever something wrong comes to the surface.

The optimizing mind is a creative source of inspiration. It can reveal flaws you’d been ignoring or blocking out and make you sit up and take notice. 

The truth of the matter is that it is no light undertaking and is full of risk. But as bad as that is, being blind to your magazine’s design flaws is far worse. It pays to look at your magazine’s design with fresh, clear eyes once every year or so, even if you don’t find anything to change.

 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. Has it been 3 or more years since the last redesign?
  2. Is your digital publication’s layout device-responsive?
  3. Does your layout look “broken”?
  4. Is it easy to find information in your publication?
  5. Does your publication use more than 4 font families per sheet?

If you answered yes to any of these, you probably need to immediately create a plan to redesign your magazine.

Redesign tips

Round up your stakeholders whomever they may be, whether they be the owner/publisher, investors, the designers, marketing, sales, or key writers your brand’s reputation is linked with. You’ll need all hands on deck to deal with these issues, at least on the surface-decision level.

1. Make sure all stakeholders understand why this necessary.

If in doubt about this, do a SWOT analysis to work out the ways in which your magazine lacks in your niche, and where the opportunities are waiting. But use these against your strengths and your weaknesses. Giving up strengths in favor of new weaknesses is never a good idea.

2. Think big and bold, not minutia.

Your hard work needs to count for something, so use this opportunity to rethink your magazine from every angle, even if you only opt to change one or two aspects of the look and feel.

3. For print, verify your printer’ ability to conform with your choices of colors, bleed, paper dimensions, paper quality, etc.

In short, it doesn’t make sense to design for print what your printer can’t reproduce. You may need another printer if your previous one just can’t comply with your needs.

4. For your digital magazine version, make responsive your new mantra.

Navigation issues and device-responsiveness are premiums in today’s online magazine publishing world. Don’t be that magazine publisher.

5. Commit to an A/B testing approach

Anyone with marketing chops will tell you that to know what works, you have to test it against logical alternatives. If no big improvement is found, you need to make the changes bigger until they make an impact. But don’t bother testing unless your traffic is into the thousands or tens of thousands per week. Otherwise, you’re probably dealing with insignificant test data samples.

What’s great about A/B testing is that it can pretty much be used to test major design areas of the print magazine, as well, including logo font, colors, and any unique layout quirks you think enhance the brand.

6. Allow 3-6 months for a solid redesign.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was any good magazine design, ever. Aim for a realistic deadline that sounds like you, not your ideal publishing house. Nobody is the ideal. In fact, that ideal is usually just painted on with the admiring words of others who don’t get their hands dirty in the redesign!

Need a prop to start the conversation?

Well, we happen to have one for you below. Enjoy!

Design info-graphic - How to know when to redesign your magazine

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