Nowadays, the press media industry is characterized by a high level of competition. The creation of demand and achievement of sustainability is the biggest challenge that magazines may encounter on the way to success. In the context of informational abundance and rising consumer expectations, effective design is crucial. It means that the role of a magazine designer cannot be underestimated.
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Since the end of the 20th century, magazine design has drastically evolved. Innovation and experimentation obtained a significant value. Overall, eye-catching and unusual designs have the potential to draw the attention of the target audience and attract new consumers. However, it can also be overwhelming and have a reverse effect repelling those to whom it was intended to appeal. It is possible to say that today designers have almost no limitations for expressing their creativity. Of course, it may be beneficial, but the lack of strict regulations hides some threats as well.
To stay efficient and produce highly demanded magazine designs of excellent quality, designers should comply with a few basic rules. The set of these standards is entitled as “The Four Fs.” The Four Fs are formula, frame, format, and function. The guidelines imply that designers should create within the general style, format, and features of the magazine; use the specific formula of content editing consistently; employ standardized framing techniques, and continually consider the functional orientation of the magazine for which they work. The given guidelines may help designers to stay rooted and not to lose themselves in a vast ocean of uncertainty. By using these simple principles, one may create successful designs and contribute to the magazine’s popularity.
Finding the right balance between visual and informational content, as well as functional attributes of the periodical, is the key to excellence. The function is considered the most important principle among all others mentioned above because it largely defines every single feature of the magazine including contents, visual media, layouts, and so on. In case a designer fails to consider functional aspects from one issue to another, he or she will likely create designs characterized by inconsistency. In such a situation, the audience will be confused because even those consumers who appreciate versatility and experiments expect to see a certain degree of cohesion. Surprises may not always be welcomed. Therefore, a designer should elaborate on the overall tone of the magazine.
To comprehend the function of the magazine, designers should read and analyze the articles which are going to be published and identify the messages conveyed through them. By making this preliminary work, a designer will also develop the awareness of the target audience. This knowledge may substantially assist in rationalizing design choices. It also can help find a balance between standards and innovation.
Uncertainty is one of the major triggers of creativity. Nevertheless, the magazine design should always have a core. It is important to remember that press is a severe industry and it is hard to survive there. The innovative and beautiful design is the major competitive advantage of any magazine – it is the primary marketing tool that has the tremendous capacity to attract broad audiences and increase product demand. Therefore, designers should know the major attributes of successful work – the Four Fs – and should understand how to implement them in practice.