magazine-cover-design-grab-attentionsEven in the age of the digital press where information, advertisements and content come in the form of bytes and transmitted data, every consumer has at one time or another picked up a magazine and flipped through the pages. Which magazine they choose to pick up at the doctor’s office, hairdresser’s, friend’s house or from their own mail pile is determined by a combination of elements. A consumer’s interests can be the foremost conscious indicator of which magazine they’ll choose, but there are other elements; from the colors and fonts used to the images and how they are framed, emphasized and covered plays into the psychology of the choice.

Fashion Focus

Graphic design follows a great many rules similar to the fashion industry, from complementary colors to emphasizing proper use of accessories, the parallels are very similar. This is never more true than when it comes to designing magazine covers to appeal to audiences. Everything about a magazine cover must be carefully considered from the ground up to make sure it conveys the appropriate brand and styles messages for its content.

Color schemes and palettes are important in the same way that matching the right shoes, belt and lipstick might be for a night out on the town. Colors that are vivid add ‘pop’ and draw the eye for that first glance that can earn a second look if the other design elements hold their weight.

Picture Versus Illustration

The choice to use a picture of an object, scene, person or animal depends largely on the message you are trying to deliver with the publication itself. Images are one of the most common features of magazine covers because the content of the images can be tailored to your subject matter from a model’s closeup looking into the camera on a fashion magazine’s cover to a sprawling vista or ancient temple on the cover of a travel magazine.

When magazines first came into popularity in the 1920s there was no way to take a photograph and put it into print on the cover page and instead illustrations were relied on to draw the eye, represent the content and make a statement, often political in nature. Today magazines like The New Yorker choose to maintain this design staple as a way to remain true to their roots.

Other types of cover designs include type-based designs, which rely on carefully selected fonts and arrangements to make an impact in words, and concept-based cover designs, which can use elements of all other cover types to represent an idea, usually one that is taboo or in some way shocking to society.

Functions of a Cover in Six Parts

Whatever design you choose to pursue for your magazine cover, whether it’s a closeup of flowers or completely type-based, there are six functions of a cover that you should keep in mind throughout the design process.

  1. Brand integrity throughout issues. Covers should have enough of the same or similar elements to be able to be identified as issues from the same brand regardless of the cover style.
  2. Image appeal. You want the images on the cover of the magazine to sell themselves in some way, whether that’s through the sensuality of a model or the plight of people in third-world countries.
  3. Second looks. You always want someone casually glancing over your product to want to take a second look. Your cover can make promises but if it spells out the contents people may overlook it simply because it’s already told them what they need to know.
  4. Promising benefits. When you design your cover remember that you should be providing consumers with content that is beneficial to them and should therefore display it to best effect on the cover.
  5. Show off your services. Make your cover easy to peruse for a basic overview of content being offered. If it’s fast and eye-catching, people are more likely to give it a second look.
  6. Prove it’s worth the investment. What your cover promises your content should deliver, but make sure the promise is clear so that consumers know you are offering them valuable services and information in your publication.

Tying it Together

Covers are the hook, line and sinker of audience appeal when it comes to magazines. If they aren’t structured well and designed to fulfill each of the six functions they may fail to pull in your target and get them reading. Choosing a service that is prepared to partner your ideas with a designer that will address each of these needs and also take the time to understand your vision, like magazine cover design by Designhill, will save your time and money in the long run. Designhill, for instance, runs contests where designers vie for your business. As a result, you can have the best impact on a market already saturated with memorable faces, tag lines and brand identities.