Magazines Register

Is It Time to Redesign Your Magazine?

Redesign: a fresh new look for your magazine. How exciting! And then reality sets in. How do you know when it’s time? Where do you start? How do you start? Before you begin trying to answer those questions, you need to ask the most important question: Why? Why are you considering a redesign?

There are many reasons why a publisher might want to do a print or digital magazine redesign. And if you have both a print and online presence, a redesign will most likely involve both. It’s important that you have a valid reason for the redesign — not simply because it hasn’t been done for a while.

Reasons to redesign

A magazine or digital edition redesign is a major undertaking — and greater if you’re redesigning both. You need to be able to justify the time, costs, effort, and risks involved if you want to get buy-in from stakeholders. Reasons might include:

  • The competition is gaining on you or your circulation numbers are down. Either you aren’t meeting your readers’ needs or your competition is doing it better. Have your audience’s needs and desires changed? Are you keeping up with the latest trends? Ask your audience. Use reader surveys, focus groups, forums, and social media to determine how you can do better.
  • Is your magazine outdated? Boring? No longer has that “Wow!” factor? If you’ve had the same design for five years, it might be time to update your look and feel. But make sure your underlying mission and content is sound so you’re not just putting a new face on the same material.
  • Have you tweaked the design here and there over time and now it no longer appears as a cohesive whole? It’s important to maintain consistency in tone and style throughout your publication.
  • Does your publication have a new editor-in-chief? This may or may not be a valid redesign reason. Make sure the new editor isn’t just trying to put his or her mark on an already successful magazine. Make sure she or he has a strategic reason for the change and a strategy for getting there.

magazine redesign meeting

Redesign tips

After you define the reasons behind your redesign, you need a plan and time frame for getting there. Involve all stakeholders — from publishers to designers as well as sales and marketing personnel — in the redesign process right from the beginning. Here are some other tips to guide your redesign efforts:

  • Define exactly what you want to achieve with the redesign, and make sure everyone involved understands that goal.
  • Perform a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis to determine which direction to take your magazine, how to capitalize on what you do well, minimize risks, and bolster against your weaknesses.
  • If you are going through all the trouble of a redesign, make it big. You don’t want to make changes so subtle no one notices. And make all your changes in one issue rather than over the span of several issues.
  • Test various combinations of fonts — serif and non-serif — grid patterns and columns, and colors.
  • Solicit input on the redesign from your printer. Some design elements, while attractive, can be reproduction nightmares.
  • When redesigning your digital publication, keep navigation and mobility top of mind. Don’t frustrate readers by making things hard to find, and make sure your content is optimized for mobile users.
  • Plan on taking at least three months for a redesign. It used to take as long as a year or more, but technology and best practice guides have shortened the time frame considerably. Set a reasonable deadline according to your resources and stick to it.

stack of magazines


One of the most important aspects of a redesign is to analyze the results. That means taking stock of where you are before you begin the redesign so you can compare it to relevant metrics after the relaunch. This will help you determine whether you achieved desired results. Did subscriber numbers or page views go up significantly? Has your audience demographic changed? Are advertisers happy with the results? Did you achieve a good return on investment? By analyzing the numbers, publishers can determine which changes had the most and least impact and plan future redesigns accordingly.

Redesigning a print or digital publication is a huge undertaking. Make sure you have valid reasons for the redesign and a good understanding of what you hope to achieve.

Contact your Sheridan representative or visit our contact page to ask how we can help you streamline your publishing processes, reduce costs, and keep up with changes in print publishing.

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