The Economist Short Feature

The short article feature for a Business article:

The Economist Long Feature

After creating the design and the layout of the Contents, I started thinking on the longer feature article. There were few main considerations when I was designing it:

  • How to make it more visually appealing?
  • How to make it more interesting and less scary without reducing the content?

For the first I decided to increase the visuals. I created a specific introduction page which features a big photo on the topic of the article. The aim was to catch more attention and also differentiate the article from all others since it’s a main hot topic and the longest article in the newspaper. The introduction page uses the colour system in this case it’s green for Economy. The green rectangle on top left is main sign when browsing the magazine; green rectangle – economy. On the inner pages I’m using two columns for the body copy with generous whitespace and bigger leading. I believe this makes the content more readable especially when you don’t have a lot of time to focus and go through the whole page to find what you need. Bigger indent in the beginning of each paragraph and additional white space between the text passages are also used to improve readability. For the typefaces I chose two main typefaces: Frutiger for the headlines and subheadlines also for important information and Camphor for body copy. I’ll explain my typeface decision in one of the next blog posts. For bodycopy I’m using 13pt which I think makes the letters more legible than 12pt. I’m using the whole typography system the typefaces offer like weights and style so I can create a full branding/visual language for the newspaper without utilising more than two fonts. The inner pages of the longer feature item also contains small orientation elements like a capital colourful letter in the beginning of the article, a small strip at the bottom of the page and a colour dot at the end of the article which helps indicate what section (business, economy, etc) it’s the article in. Also make the layout a bit less boring. There is a typography style of subheadlines used to bring hierarchy in the articles.

Contents

After I designed the Editorial in InDesign and tried few other designs and page layouts I decided to switch to Photoshop. While InDesign seems very good in handling more pages to coherently create magazines and newspapers and also typography layout, I found it harder and time consuming to deal with more complex visual elements and graphics that are not related with typography. I created a Grid system in PS and also using the rulers and lines I managed to keep the layout properly aligned. However I’ll further import these page designs to InDesign to review the whole newspaper design and layout and create the final coherent piece.

Using the visual concept of the covers I created the contents. For the layout I decided to stick with two columns layout. I think this will make the whole content less “scary” to younger audience. Also reduced the amount of text so only the most important information is revealed on the Contents thus improving usability. The featured items are on bottom on the second page of the Contents, they use the colour system.

Cover 3

The third cover is something I based not on existing cover of The Economist but a concept of mine. The photo is from flickr, user: lilian3000

Cover 2

For my second cover I decided to choose a different cover of The Economist from 2008.

After trying few different versions and changing the colour of The Economist I decided to use the previous cover design as a template and don’t change the colour. I think red is very icon to be changed.

Here’s the final outcome:

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Cover 1

Before I started designing the covers I took a look at few of The Economist covers (of course). Whats similar about all of them is that they are really boring. A hot newsletter topic of the last 8 year is Barack Obama presidency term. A lot of politic magazines and newspapers speak about the recent president of the US and The Economist is no exception. Here is a cover of The Economist from Jan 2009 featuring Obama and the headline “Renewing America”.

While I think the photo is not so bad – Obama’s sign is caught in a good striking moment, I believe the tonality of the photo in combination with this strange background of vintage style writings in script typeface makes me want to fall asleep even before I’ve opened the newspaper. This is a tendency of almost all of The Economist editions, decent or mediocre photos presented quite boringly.

I took a different approach. First I changed the size of the newspaper from a non-standart smaller than A4 size to 21×29.7cm (A4) size. I think that the magazine will need more space for visuals and whitespace for the body copy to breath without making compromises on its size. My second approach was to minimize the content on the cover. The Economist is an icon, it doesn’t need a Month of the edition or information what articles we can find in. A simple identification number of the edition will make it even more icon and differentiate from the dozens of other magazines. I took a minimalistic approach to the design of the cover – no ugly backgrounds, no unnecessary content, lines or other elements.

This was the first cover I created:

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The Economist Editorial

After I started exploring and reading The Economist the first thing I noticed is that there are no actual authors. No author names or any names at all are stated above or below the articles. After a bit of research I found that this is intentionally left if we could say “a secret” to represent the publishing platform as a independent and anonymous newspaper and to focus on the materials rather than the people who write it. According to The Economist, the newsletter is a representative body of ideas and mission so personality like author names is not necessary. Taking this in mind, there is no editorial.. simply because there is no obvious editor of the newspaper. So here comes the question:

Considering the brief to make the magazine even more usable and more appealing to young audience how we can utilise the editorial space without actually creating a editorial?

I decided to design a colour system or code. Each section of the magazine is designed with particular colour domination so users can easily flip through sections. This will facilitate exploring the newspaper in not so typical reading areas (at least for the Economist, from what we now from the statistics in the previous posts) like the airplane or on the bus stop.

Here is the outcome:

The colours stand for:
RED – Headlines
BLUE – Business
ORANGE – Politics
GREEN – if there are any other sections

As Spiekermann says for his redesign of the Economist: it’s all about usability.

As stated from the tutor – this layout reminds of a website. I believe that’s good, because its the websites that that are the new communication of the young people. They are used to click, navigate and skim through content. Rarely people read massive amount of body copy. My aim is to bring a balance between the new methods of reading and communicating and the thorough intellectual content of The Economist so we can reach more younger audience and educate them.

Erik Spiekermann on Typography

The Economist Fonts

Eco

Publisher: Monotype Imaging
MyFonts debut: Dec 12, 2001

This was a custom font designed for the newspaper’s previous design and it was in use since its successor Oficina was put in use in 2001.

ITC Officina Display

The Economist Current Layout

Examining the current design and layout of The Economist. Sections under: cover, content, headline, inner section.

The Ideas People

Redesign of The Economist

Creative Brief

CONTENT

1. Client & Working Team
2. Defining the Problem
3. Audience
4. Goals
5. Approach
6. Deliverables
7. Milestones and Deadlines

1. CLIENT & WORKING TEAM

Client: The Economist weekly newspaper
Project Management: Kaloyan Yankulov
Design: Kaloyan Yankulov

2. DEFINING THE PROBLEM

Erik Spiekermann executed the last redesign of The Economist in 2001, eleven years ago. As Spiekermann himself says: “I think that every publication needs its design evaluated every six or so years.” Currently The Economist has an outdated visual presentation, which requires improvements. It’s navigational structure although consistent is not in step with the consumer needs of the modern younger audience, which is exposed more and more to the quick browsing experience that the World Wide Web offers today. It lacks visual hierarchy between the content sections, which impedes the exploration of the newspaper and renders difficult the navigation through the sections in an environment that’s not friendly for thorough reading i.e. on the bus stop, on a plane, quick lunch break, etc. As The Economist values the time of its readers and we believe them to be busy people with their professional or otherwise engagements, we define that as a usability problem of the newspaper. Aesthetically The Economist also requires improvements, younger audience don’t find the design attractive and engaging enough.
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