Magazine design: Sandman
A skills-building exercise in learning magazine design using a local free music magazine as source material.
I mainly concentrated on making the magazine more organised, clear and readable.
The redesign is not intended as a criticism of the original layout. I used the magazine as source material because it ignored ‘the rules’ of more mainstream magazine design. My intention was to learn about these ‘rules’ so it was suitable for the purpose.
As a design in itself though it’s probably less successful. It’s more generic and mainstream than it needs to be. It’s a music magazine after all and not a guide to filling in a tax return. It doesn’t need to be readable in the same way and my redesign loses something of the identity and originality of the source.
This is what I did:
Banished the darkness A lot, if not most, of the body text was white on black or black on grey, which, given the typeface and text size, was not the easiest to read.
Everything in its place I rounded the ads up from throughout the magazine and placed them on separate ad pages or in solid blocks. All ‘admin’ content (contact, acknowlegements, content list) was put on the same page, as were news items.
Where am I? Table of contents added to page 1. Page numbers added. Consistent running heads throughout. Headlines on everything. More prominent headlines. Photo captions added.
Flexibility I used 4 column pages, in addition to 3 column pages, for variety and a bit more flexibility in how a page can be laid out. The narrowness of the columns makes a 4 column page less comfortable to read than a 3 column page though. Sticking with 3 columns throughout might have been better.
Turn up the contrast The brain likes to know where it is and it likes variety, even when reading. This is why newspapers tend not to look like this any more. I attempted to break the rhythm of a page by emphasising different levels of ‘information’, so the difference between pages is greater and it’s easier to tell, at a glance, what a page is about (compare the photos of the 2 first pages, above).
- I like Futura but it’s not good for body text. For a start, for comfortable reading it needs more leading (line-spacing) than it had, which would mean each page would have to contain fewer words.
- What more ‘readable’ means exactly is open to debate. For now, let’s say I’ve used a typeface specifically designed for body text.