By Brent Warren, DTN/The Progressive Farmer
In my 30-year career as an art director, I’ve found one thing that is always in the forefront of any design or publication I work on – the reader. I ask myself these questions: Does the photo tell a story? Does the headline hook you? Does the page have a focal point? Does the article have multiple entry points?
As much as we would like to think our audience read every word of our magazines, the truth is unless we hook them with great photography, creative headlines, pull-quotes, and supporting graphics, most people just don’t.
However, for those who are interested enough to read an article to the end, we make sure that we have fact-checked, labored over wording, included resources for more information, and presented the content in a clean, easy-to-read format.
Often times it’s the little things that make a magazine article have a good appearance. Font selection and size matters. I’m careful to make sure the body text is without widows, orphans and hyphenation so the reader has a better experience.
As a visual person, I’m still most interested in photography that tells a story, is graphically interesting, and has pleasing color. Designers today are more involved in color-correction than in years past. I’ve been fortunate to work some very good Photoshop experts and learned a lot from them. We spend time on every image to be sure it will reproduce well, have accurate color, sharpness and detail. This doesn’t mean we take liberties to remove or add objects to photos. We want to only publish images that are not manipulated, but enhanced.
Finally, I would say I find myself revisiting a design the next day while it is still in the design phase and asking myself, what else can I do to improve this layout? Sometimes “fresh eyes” will see something that you missed at the end of a long day.