Prospect readers will have no doubt noticed that our March issue has a new look and feel. A layout redesign is not something we undertake lightly, but this one is more than an aesthetic flourish. What you see in the magazine, and reflected on this blog, is the product of lots of internal analysis, reader research and other mulling. The result is as much about structure, organization and navigation as about how the magazine looks.
The process began almost a year ago with some internal discussions. We knew we needed to smarten up the magazine, functionally as well as visually, but we weren’t sure how far we needed to go: a “tweak,” a “refresh?” The more we tried to modify the existing design the more it became clear that we needed to start again from first principles.
With this in mind, in October last year we approached Simon Esterson—an award-winning designer who has become something of a touchstone in the world of magazine and newspaper design—and presented him with a loose and somewhat contradictory brief. He and his colleagues have worked with us over the past three months, bringing their professional experience and clear-sightedness to the task, and have produced a design of coherence, elegance and unity of purpose.
In design, form should follow function. In our case, this means it needs to be appropriate to our content. Our stuff is eclectic and unpredictable—something we’re proud of and intend to continue. But the magazine’s old typography and layout have perhaps tended to manifest those characteristics a bit too literally. In doing so, we came to feel—and, our surveys said, so did some of you—that we sometimes obscured the quality and breadth of that content.
So, what’s new? The new layout is actualy much simpler in many ways than before. We’ve gone for a look which allows for greater contrast between individual articles and a less regimented approach to the positioning of pictures, headings and so forth.
We’ve also dispensed with our previous range of typefaces. Gone are the many different fonts dotted about, replaced with a single serif font (meaning that it has curly bits at the end of the letters) called Brunel, which was specially designed for use in magazine text and headlines. This, in…