Mark Bult Design: San Francisco, CA, Established 1988

Web design and development for small and large business, e-commerce, b2b, b2c, SAAS, and community websites. User experience design and usability testing.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

On magazines

Jen E. (hi!) commented on my post, "Somber reading. Or: Why I hate the New Yorker."

I was mostly being a snobby, reactionary designer because of the illegibility of their website, since it reminded me of the year that I subscribed to the New Yorker back in something like 1993 and later felt like a loser because I never had time to read the 30,000-word articles. What a waste.

It might just as equally be the case that I ranted against the New Yorker simply because of a surging inferiority complex brought on by the fact that I'm slowly but surely becoming one of those short-attention-span people you spoke of `,:
Jen, your point about being exposed to ideas that you wouldn't necessarily otherwise be exposed to is the most compelling one to me. It's the same reason I still occasionally tune in KGO AM and listen for a few hours, to remind myself that the things I hear on those talk shows are the way most people out there think (KGO has more listeners by far than any other radio station in the Bay Area), and that not everyone listens to NPR.

Anyway, I still hate the design of the New Yorker. I know it has this style that's all its own, that the magazine in fact thrives in part on this historically backward look. But I mean, this is a totally subjective thing, and whether I "like" it or not means nothing. And whether someone else likes it or not means nothing to me. But I can't read it. It makes me ill to open it. But hey, like I said, I'm a design snob. It's what I do ; )

So, magazines that I like the design of?

Time, although its content increasingly falls into that short-attention-span genre.

Dwell is great, but mostly because of the photos and typography, since the recent switch to using great swatches of cyan, magenta, and yellow throughout is garish (although I know they're just trying to be all pomo). The writing is good too, and I especially like the editorial staff's emphasis on sustainable design.

How was recently redesigned and looks great. But then, you'd expect nothing less from a magazine about design, no?

Computer Shopper was the scourge of tech magazines for years, but was redesigned last fall and now looks great, even though I normally hate the look of all tech magazines. I'm not just saying I like it because it's published by my employer (although I expcet a kickback if anybody subscribes because of this post). They actually pack in a lot of product info and detail on all sorts of tech products, and yet do it with style and make it very readable. I mean, hey, I actually read it! Which is more than I can say for any other Windoze-oriented magazine, considering I only use Macs.

Two magazines that do a much better job of presenting longer articles in a compelling way (putting the New Yorker to shame) are:

National Grographic (of course), and Mother Jones, the latter of which underwent a much-needed redesign about a year-and-a-half ago, which came out fantastic; 100% goodness. Professional, easy to read, great typography. And excellent writing, natch. And I might add, National Geographic excells admirably in melding modern, accessible design within a historically-based brand image (the yellow border, the old-fashioned logotype, etc.), where the New Yorker fails.

On the other hand, a magazine I like a lot content-wise but hate to look at is E: The Environmental Magazine, each issue of which looks like it was designed by an intern taking "desktop publishing" courses at a community college. Too bad, since there's such good information inside.

And that reminds me, Real Simple is also really well designed. The writing is a bit fluffy for my tastes, but I actually learn something from it when I pick it up to leaf through once or three times a year.

Oh, and Jason: I still think the New Yorker's cartoons are funny about as often as I wash my car. I think the last time was about 3 years ago.


Blogger waterlovinguy117 said...

You like the Matrix. I rest my case.

5/25/2005 11:32:00 PM


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