5 Approaches to Great Digital Magazine Covers
August 1, 2012 by Joy Curtis
You might not be calling to a bookstore newsstand passerby now that you’ve gone digital, but your magazine cover will still need to seduce readers in your email blast, Facebook post, or the promotion spot on your website. Effective design and use of the medium might mean the difference between someone diving into the issue the minute they get it, and someone putting it off for later. Just as important as enticing readers, the cover begins to establish the message of the magazine brand: upbeat v. hard-hitting, pop v. news, informative v. entertaining, tech-based v. all about the arts, innovative v. old-school, and so on.
In the digital realm, publishers can do more than rely on a celebrity’s photo to guarantee magazine opens and shares. Using techniques such as animation or hot links, covers can be used to push readers into feature stories. Here are 5 different approaches to designing great and effective digital magazine covers.
1. Locum Life
Locum Life recently had a redesign which embraced the digital medium. During the redesign, they shifted their approach to cover design. In recent issues, they focused on driving readers directly into the content of their choice: each topic has its own image and headline, arranged with a grid-like feel to make it easy to digest and easy to choose a story to jump into. Compare this very inviting, content-driven format to their previous cover designs by looking at their archives.
2. World Wildlife Fund
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) mesmerized readers by turning their cover into a full-page video. Their feature story, "Our Coasts, Our Seas," might have garnered activists’ attention regardless; but, the cover video entrances new viewers. I personally witnessed as people who saw the cover exclaimed that it was better than looking in an aquarium. While the video loops for readers who view the cover for longer periods of time, the animation entices readers to flip past the cover to see what other delights are deeper in the edition.
Hitachi also embraced the digital medium by incorporating animation, but it was important to them that the animation be visible in their readers’ mobile browsers. To keep the wow-factor of cover animation, the development team used HTML5 animation, viewable on mobile devices of all platforms.
Splash magazine is typically all about everything swimming. But when the Olympics come around, the focus is – of course – on Olympic swimmers and events. Taking advantage of timely events and issues is a commonly used tactic for creating an impactful cover. The beautiful thing about digital is by adding social media capabilities, your magazine can be shared across networks and "friends" groups while the event is still a hot topic.
Assessing Retirement Plan Value report’s cover had the heavy job of making a tough subject look inviting and possible. Principal Financial Group tackled that with light, intriguing animation that consistently loops, interactive animation that bounces over menu items as the reader scrolls over it, and an illustrated cover character balancing the tough concept (represented in words) on one finger. The entire cover design is made to put the potential reader at ease. Publishers tackling heavy or complicated topics frequently use light and interactive animation on the cover to help relax the reader and coax them further into the edition.