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Is It Time for a Change?

Posted on Tuesday, May 31, 2011 at 9:46 AM

Stay ahead of the competition by updating your magazine's website design.

By Lynn Riley

The facts aren't pretty. With a slow economy comes flat circulation or membership revenues and flat ad sales. But along with this down time comes an opportunity. Now is a great time to evaluate how your media is working for you and to look at ways to better engage your audience. Are you attracting and keeping website browsers? Are you reaching the younger professional demographic with your magazine that you hoped for?

Four key areas to look at are your website, your publication, its flag, and your organization's logo.

Freshening the look of a publication, logo, or website generates new interest - from readers, users, and advertisers. Increasing your website's functionality captures more attention and involvement from Web users. Equally important, it shows advertisers that you're committed to delivering an engaging experience for web users.

What's the best place to start? Set goals for reader or web user responsiveness. Develop measurable criteria. If you just have a general sense that something isn't quite right, but you can't identify it, you can mistakenly "fix" the wrong thing. A reader survey is an obvious place to start. Tracking unsolicited reader feedback is another.

Here are a few tips to consider when updating your media.


Web 2.0 is practically old news. Today's sophisticated Web users expect an interactive experience, not static text. If your website is simply a brochure site, an update is long overdue. Streaming video, member access portals, blogs and discussion boards are expected these days. Involvement devices such as surveys, instantly scored quizzes, and personalized, site-based recordkeeping add value to your site and keep members coming back again and again.

"Websites should be evaluated every six months," says Eileen Coale, an award-winning marketing consultant and copywriter in Annapolis, Maryland. "The Web is a fast-evolving media, and websites can become dated very quickly."

Flags and Logos

The human brain loves "new" -- as long as it's not jarringly different from what's expected. Many businesses and organizations make the mistake of recreating a logo or flag from scratch. That approach, however, can backfire, because it creates a major disconnect between you and your audience.

A smarter strategy? Incremental changes. For instance, a slight reshaping of logo elements, or updated colors, still lets your audience recognize you instantly, while the freshness catches and keeps their eye. One good rule of thumb: if it's been ten years since your last makeover, you're overdue.


Trends in font usage and color palettes may be subtle, but they're always on the move. New design tools also shape design trends. A publication from as recently as 5 or 6 years ago can look dated. Start with a new or updated flag, and use it as a springboard to move towards an updated publication design. It doesn't have to be a major overhaul; even small changes can give a publication a fresh new look.

Besides, big changes all at once can mean big expenses. A smarter strategy is to review websites and publications regularly -- every 6 to 12 months -- and schedule incremental changes. That way, you don't alienate your audience with an abrupt change. Instead, your media moves forward into the future alongside your audience, at a pace that's comfortable for them.

Nothing lasts forever, not even recessions. When the economy picks up again, your updated website and refreshed publication will position you as the go-to place for old and new readers alike.

Lynn Riley is an award-winning graphic designer for associations. www.lynnrileydesign.com

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