This might well demonstrate just how far behind I am in my print publication consumption, but yesterday I finally cracked open one of the newly redesigned BusinessWeek issues and, oh man, they’ve mangled the publication with its redesign!
Haven’t seen the new “retro” look yet? Go to a local newsstand and see just how much difference a serif can make: the old publication used a nice standard sans-serif face (Helvetica) and had a traditional magazine layout, but now the magazine’s switched to an “online inspired” design and dropped those pesky serifs. The new headline typeface? Berthold’s Akzidenz Grotesk. I can only say “grotesque” is apt. (To be fair, it’s a lovely typeface, clean, open and light, but way overused in the BusinessWeek redesign)
In case it’s not clear, my opinion: The redesign is terrible. Terrible enough that I’m probably going to drop my subscription after, what, ten years of receiving the magazine…
The change in design is most noticable in the “News You Need to Know” section, which used to be two pages long and now sprawls across five pages (aren’t they supposed to be highlighting the half-dozen most important stories in this section rather than summarizing everything in the magazine?), but the end result, as one blog commentator notes, it’s now hard to differentiate the magazine content from the advertorials. I also am not particularly enamored of the increased used of illustrations rather than photographs, again particularly in the front of the publication, though a similar style certainly helps The Wall Street Journal stay distinctive visually.
I’m certainly not alone in this reaction either. Google businessweek redesign and you’ll see lots of interesting reactions. Many designers seem to like it, but the general magazine reading populace is less, um, enthused. My friend Joe Wickert expresses my opinion aptly in his own piece Yikes! What have they done to BusinessWeek?
Heck, even the New York Times has reported on the issue, noting “the new BusinessWeek format — which includes more news summaries and fewer lifestyle articles — is meant to be more Weblike.” Well, it may be weblike, but if I wanted to read something Weblike, I’d read the Web itself.
Another interesting NYT quote: “From an advertiser’s perspective, the new BusinessWeek is designed a bit more like a Web site. There are more opportunities for companies to buy ads near articles related to their industry, and the magazine is broken into chunks, with four separate tables of contents. Readers tend to linger on such tables, so the ad pages next to the start of each section could prove to be lucrative. There are also more ads at the front of the book.”
Maybe it’s just me, but shouldn’t a redesign be for readability, to improve the appearance and usability of the publication for the reader, not to rejigger things to create more high-ticket ad slots for the publication?
Do you read or subscribe to BusinessWeek and if so, do you like the redesign ? Me, I think I’ll stick with The Week and catch the rest of the business news online after all…