For U of Chicago’s economics research magazine, a sharper editorial focus

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[Summer 2013] Capital Ideas, the magazine of ideas and analysis from the Booth School of Business at University of Chicago, has redesigned to adopt a sharper editorial focus, with a new look that emphasizes information over decoration.

I have been working for several months with editors Hal Weitzman and Emily Lambert, in the school’s new department of Intellectual Capital, on a redesign / rethinking, and the results arrive with the quarterly’s summer edition. In addition to having created the new look via several months of prototyping earlier this spring, I’m also providing ongoing, live design direction and layout, as on this first issue.

The new design strategy: Above all, SMART, like the subject matter and faculty and grad students whose work is covered. Informative. Clean. Authoritative. Easily navigated. Graphically rich. White space is orchestrated to provide relief for a fair amount of text, and photos and graphics are paced throughout the keep things visually lively and moving.

Shown here are the cover and sample spreads from the first issue (samples of the old format can be seen at the bottom of this post for comparison):

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Below, for comparison, are sample pages of the layout before the redesign, with comments about perceived shortcomings of the format:

Before the redesign, covers tended to utilize generic clip art, often with Photoshop effects, that seemed to have little or nothing to do with inside content. The impact was more that of a promotional brochure than an editorial product. The lack of active headlines was also a problem.

Before the redesign, covers tended to utilize generic clip art, often with Photoshop effects, that seemed to have little or nothing to do with inside content. The impact was more that of a promotional brochure than an editorial product. The lack of active headlines was also a problem.

Highly formatted inside layouts at times appeared monotonous; one- or two-word

Before the redesign, highly formatted inside layouts at times appeared monotonous; one- or two-word “hammer heads” allowed very little information about the content of the story.

Before the redesign, pull quotes - often quite huge - were used as filler. The redesign replaced these with more of an emphasis on infographics, photo illustrations and sidebars, a move toward information rather than decoration.

Before the redesign, pull quotes – often quite huge – were used as filler. The redesign replaced these with more of an emphasis on infographics, photo illustrations and sidebars, a move toward information rather than decoration.

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1 Comment

  1. This is fascinating. I enjoy the ‘redesign by de-design’ and agree that the new layout’s focus on information is successful.

    Smarter infographics and subtle pull quotes keep the focus on the story, not on the design template.

    For those interested in the full Occupy story (as I was), visit http://www.chicagobooth.edu/capideas/magazine/summer-2013/occupy-wall-street?cat=policy&src=Magazine

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