All Blog Posts By Topic, Journalism, Marketing, Writing Tips

Create a Captivating Reader Experience through Design

Learn the importance of a visually rich publication.

On July 11, 2014, during the AAN Convention 2014 in Nashville, TN, Jandos Rothstein (, creative director at the Washington City Paper, hosted “Enterprising Interiors,” a workshop during which he offered ideas on how to spark more reader engagement by enhancing the visual design elements of a publication.

How to Improve the Design of Your Publication

  • Insert “toppers” (call-out text/teaser blurbs) providing short bits of information at the top of regular sections in the publication.
  • Utilize fun and informative infographics

o   This is a way to present stats, a timeline or fast facts

  • Create a “decision tree” (flow chart in the shape of an infographic that poses questions based on an overarching topic that then maps out various solutions or options based on the answers you provide)

o   This can be fun, snarky and entertaining ways to provide information

  • i.e., A decision tree based on the types of music you like to help map out which bands you should see at Bonnaroo, etc.

o   Benefits of a decision tree

  • Provides richer reader experience
  • Attracts different readers
  • Increases design and writing skills
  • Provides readers a short and fun reading experience

o   Decision tree example

  • Avoid presenting text in a dry, linear way
  • Understand that sometimes ambitious, non-linear graphics don’t always work out either
  • Work ahead by planning for annual, reoccurring articles, issues, cover stories, etc.

o   i.e., “The Answers Issue” or the annual “How To… Guide”

  • Play with font to create headlines that have custom type treatment

o   Typography example

  • Annotate/label photos
  • Create maps to show quantity and location
  • Create visual comparison charts (A vs. B)
  • Do the “donkey work” for complex design formatting

o   Use key commands

o   Really learn how to use Adobe Illustrator

o   Use GREP/search formatting to find patterns in text and replicate them via a style sheet

o   Create a Photoshop Alpha Channel for silhouetted images

  • Present readers with active, exciting pages with lots of texture and various points of entry, as well as various lengths of text
  • Lastly, designers have to think like journalists and really understand the content to create great layouts

For more tips, Rothstein provided several websites you can access….

Eight Tips For Improving Your Magazine Right Now: Revision without Redesign

The presentation:

The handout:

Project/design examples:




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.