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A trade journal of a still-emerging field, written by Adam Tinworth.

Posts tagged design

Issue 16 of Offscreen magazine is now available. It’s a beautiful print magazine all about the digital industry, which I’ve been happily reading for the last couple of years. If you’re interested in online, but still a lover of great print magazines, it’s well worth a look. (I mentioned it in passing a few months back.)

The new issue is a complete redesign, and the editor Kai Brach supported himself through the redesign and rebrand phase, via crowdfunding (I was a backer). And this is how it looks:

Offscreen 16 cover

Offscreen 16 laid flat

A typical Offscreen spread

Here’s what’s different:

Both the website and the magazine have undergone a complete visual overhaul. The new design comes with a lighter footprint, thanks to simplified typography (just one type family), more white space, a brighter colour scheme, and quirky, hand-drawn illustrations by Agnes Lee that add a personal touch.

We made the new issue a little smaller so it feels even more like a book. Instead of the standard Perfect Binding that makes the magazine hard to keep open, Offscreen now has an open, lay-flat stitch binding that offers an improved reading experience.

I should get my copy sometime next week. You can grab your copy from the Offscreen website (and you can sign up for a subscription, too), or buy it in person via specialist magazine stores like Magculture in London or Magazine Brighton.

The New York Times has redesigned the opening spread of the print edition to make it more of a digest of everything the outlet is doing across all media. So, yes, that include capturing the best of its journalists’ tweetstorms on there. Laura Hazard Owen interviewed Jake Siverstein who led the design work:

But we also recognized that there were some important functions this page could play — not only warming people up but offering a dashboard of the huge scope of activity that’s going on in the world of The New York Times on any given day. That scope has expanded in recent years to take in not only what’s happening in the print paper and videos and podcasts and various institutional social media accounts, but also our live journalism, and all of our journalists’ own social media accounts.

This is a tentative step in the direction pint newspapers will need to move if they are to survive, in the era of 24/7 online news. Once you acknowledge that the print edition is no longer the “breaking news” vehicle, but, essentially, a daily summary of what you need to know, then you can design outwards from that idea.

Why newspapers should take design cues from magazines

Interestingly, Silverstein comes from the New York Times Magazine (he’s editor-in-chief) – and this is much more magazine thinking than newspaper thinking. Silverstein again:

Part of the goal was to create something that was entirely visible in one open spread of the newspaper, that used some of the rhythm and pacing and design of a magazine front-of-book — the difference being that the whole front-of-book is laid out before you turn any pages, so your eyes can wander around small content and small features, latch on to one thing and then drift over to the next thing. There’s something leisurely and pleasurable about that. It’s kind of an appetizer course before you get to the rest of the paper.

And that’s what print newspapers are becoming: daily magazines.

Surprisingly fewer and fewer designers, regardless of their particular design discipline, seem to be interested in the detail of how something is actually made. With a father who is a fabulous craftsman, I was raised with the fundamental belief that it is only when you personally work with a material with your hands, that you come to understand its true nature, its characteristics, its attributes, and I think – very importantly – its potential.

Jony Ive

So, we finally have it. Instagram now supports account switching from within the app. This is, of course, fantastic news for anyone who is managing a site’s Instagram account while trying to use the app for personal reasons, too.

Up until now they’ve been left with some variation of logging in and out, or having two phones. Instagram has never been very API-friendly. Those clunky approaches are a thing of the past, and that’s great news, I’m in the process of launching the web presence of a new venture – and it’s making my life easier from day one.

I’m not going to go other the details of how it works – that’s been well covered elsewhere. There are good guides on iMore and the Buffer blog.

Learning to switch

I’m more interested in one specific detail of the account switching process. Here’s a screenshot of the process mid-switch:

Instagram switching

All you do is press (quite firmly) on the user logo in the bottom right of the screen, and you switch accounts.

Switching from the top

Alternatively, you can go to your profile screen, and just click on the menu at the top.

Top switch

Tap on the account you want to switch to, and you’re away. It’s much simpler and more intuitive than other apps that allow account switching – like Twitter, for example, where the account switching mechanism feels clunky every time I use it. There, you have to go to the profile page, and hit a specific button. The almost universal availability of the switching mechanism – without making it too easy to accidentally switch – shows an attention to detail that’s characteristic of Instagram. They only add new features very slowly, and when they do, they tend to get them right.

Playground

Here’s a good question:

If digital technology saves time, how come so many of us feel rushed and harried? Technological utopians once dreamt of the post-industrial society as one of leisure. Instead, we are more like characters in Alice in Wonderland, running ever faster and faster to stand still. Is digital technology at once the cause of time pressure and its solution?

The (proposed) answer is that we’re making conscious design choices with our technology that need to be challenged – and changed.

Food for thought on a Sunday morning.

(And yes, I’m aware of the irony that I’m blogging at quarter to nine on a weekend morning)

Negative creative inspiration at work:

Picking holes in things is part of Newson’s creative process. “One of my biggest sources of inspiration as a designer is basically looking at things and hating them,” he says, good-naturedly. “I have other designer friends who feel the same way, like [Apple’s senior vice president of design] Jony Ive. We’re always sitting there going, ‘God, that’s horrible, that’s so s—‘ . Sitting there, ranting about what we hate. And it sounds really negative but actually it’s sort of not – because if everything was great, then we wouldn’t have a job.”

Lots of interest in Marc Newson today. Can’t think why.