Get Ahead of the Competition: Magazine Design

Essentially, it’s important for everyone – even those who’re very naturally gifted – to spend their time actually learning about this skill.  That’s why we’ve written this article, detailing what we believe to be some of the steps anyone seeking to get ahead of the competition should take:

Keep the text front and centre.  Whilst the visuals of a cover will definitely help sell it, it’s the content within that will really make people want to keep reading it.  Because of this, a great deal of design process should be spent on making the cover text clear and readable. The best way to achieve this is a sharp contrast between the dark and light.  This doesn’t mean black and white, necessarily –  a bright purple against a dull orange will be just as cutting – but it does mean that you should avoid dull, fade-into-the-background text like the plague.

Stick to one main image.  One of the primary errors that junior designers make is to clutter up their covers with too many images that represent the many pieces within the magazine.  That’s what the cover words are for!  The very best magazine covers often bear one iconic image, and focus almost the whole display on that one shot.  That’s why you should invest in the very best photographs, painters and the like that you can find:  a brilliant piece of art or a top draw photo sell magazines by itself.

Spend time on typography.  As we noted above, the text on the magazine (and indeed, throughout it) can have a huge impact on whether or not people pick it up off the shelf.  Because of this, it’s important to spend a lot of time choosing the fonts and typography that’s used on the cover.

Those few snippets of text are responsible for making customers think that they’ll enjoy reading the magazine, so they need to really pop out of the design when sent off to the nano ink printer.  Oh, and if you don’t believe us, answer this question: why does it always take you ages to find the price on a magazine cover?

Vary things up.  Whilst sticking to a format is good in terms of creating and managing editorial, you can be damn sure that if you’re too formulaic with your covers that some readers are going to get bored and go buy something else.  Yes, there are some things that should remain the same each month: the typography of your logo, for instance (otherwise people might simply not realise it’s you).

However, you should always be trying to create something unique and eye-catching, and if that means having no text on your cover for a month, or having your logo be bright purple one month and dark grey the next, then that’s fine.  The last impression you want your magazine to create is a formulaic, dull one.