I thoroughly believe in the importance of life-long learning. There are so many amazing things to know about on so many dimensions, and so much to still be discovered. So even before I enrolled in my program’s publication design course, I knew I wanted my project to educate, even if unwittingly. And even if none of my potential readers would go on to cure cancer—fueled by intense inspiration divined from my humble publication—I could still strive to make their understanding of our intricate world a bit more complete, and to inspire wonder through the explanation of everyday phenomena.
I needed a method to help me curate content so that it would fit together cohesively and shape the mission of my magazine.
I would have to be explicit about the mission of my magazine. It did not fit into the traditional niches of print publications like fashion, business, or sports, and could cause confusion if would-be readers didn’t know what to expect from looking at it.
Learning new things can be challenging, but magazines are meant to be enjoyed leisurely; potentially complex topics would have to be handled with extra care, to ensure they were conveyed in an engaging, easy to understand manner.
I realized I would have to be explicit about the theme of my magazine: it did not fit into the traditional niches of print publications like fashion, wellness, news, or business. I decided to write a hypothetical mission statement to concisely communicate its goals.
Before I started designing and collecting content, I rounded up all the magazines I could that were at least peripherally related to mine. At one end of the spectrum was Mental Floss, self-proclaimed conveyer of trivia and brain teasers. At the other I placed National Geographic, famous for its photographs and long form essays detailing aspects of culture and the natural world. I observed the visual branding—the look and feel— of the publications on this spectrum.
I needed some criteria to help me curate the content, and a way to keep it cohesively organized and easy to access within my magazine. I decided to have five sections, roughly based on school subjects: art, language, history, science, and math.
[Once I had established the magazine’s sections, it was easier to]/[I began to] narrow down what articles to use, and to roughly plot them on spreads based on their length. I also looked for pull quotes, and planned images and illustrations to accompany each article. Then I roughly sketched out how these could all fit together.
The next step was to take the content into InDesign and start exploring layouts and visual branding.
These were some of my initial explorations, attempting to pull together the article, its title, a pull-quote, and some illustrated glyphs for a story about punctuation. I was struggling for a while with how to use the layout and visual elements to help convey the brand and meaning of my magazine, and decided that these weren’t quite capturing the look and feel I had initially set out for with my moodboard.
For the iPad version of my publication, I looked for opportunities to make any of the explanatory diagrams interactive. A static diagram I had in the print version about how the shape of a wing causes lift seemed to be a particular place where interactivity could be used to enhance understanding.
The final interactive module I built allows the user to swipe to see how a wing lifts off from the ground based on changing speed (and [concomitant] air pressure).