There are three or four things you should do before sitting down to redesign a magazine. The first is to spend a lot of time reading it – really reading it. Flicking through back and forth, then studying everything on every page in every issue, in sequence and out of sequence. You have to really know your own magazine. We know EON pretty well of course, but it helps to go back through all the old issues to recall how we went about creating them. And there a lot of pages to go through!
Next you must have some measure of what other people think of the mag, which means asking them. Late last year you may recall a survey going out in one of EVE’s newsletters, with all sorts of questions regarding marketing, which if you managed to get through without feeling ashamed and depressed, will have ended up with a good few askings about what those of you who liked taking part in surveys thought about EON in general and various sections of the magazine in particular. The responses offered an interesting snapshot that confirmed what many of us already thought, but that also threw up a couple of insights we weren’t expecting.
The third thing you have to do is perhaps the most fun part of the process. It involves heading out to a newsagents and spending a couple of hours going through the other magazines on the shelves. Not just gaming magazines, but every type of journal there is; from fashion to travel, history, movies, knitting, fitness and, yes, even magazines for the chaps. Then, just at the point you get kicked out the shop for not buying anything, you buy as many magazines as the budget allows, preferably those you think feature some good design or content ideas that can be “adapted”.
Finally, some time later after all the research is done, you have to sit down together with all the notes you’ve made and a huge stack of magazines bristling with post-it notes and and go through everything. This takes all day. Emails must be ignored, phones turned off and doors locked. No distractions are allowed save for the need to keep the coffee pot topped up and the accept the delivery of pizzas when lunchtime comes around.
For us it was a long day, but an incredibly useful one. We started at the cover, working our way through issues page by page, discussing what we liked and what we didn’t, what the survey suggested you liked (more than we hoped) and what you didn’t (surprisingly little), then brought in all the things we’d noted from the magazines we’d bought and finally discussed all the new ideas we’d been saving up over the years that we thought might work in the future.
If there was a theme to our discussions, it only became obvious after the day was over: ‘The Three Cs – corporations, community and characters.’
First (and this only really hit home after studying the old issues), was that we never really grasped the importance that corps had in EVE. Yes, of course we knew they were important, and we knew why, but for some reason we’d never really reflected this in EON. With ‘Alliance Profiles’ becoming rather samey over the years and ‘In Character’ pages failing to properly resonate with many of you, we decided to just have “Profiles” that could focus on any in-game entity; be it a legendary player, a famous corp, or any alliance or coalition. In addition, we could adapt Testflight so that we didn’t have to focus on specific hulls all the time, but instead on the favoured ships of corps and the preferred fittings of well-known or high-ranking characters.
As to having more of the community in EON, again this is something we’ve tried to integrate with varying degrees of success. Rather than list favourite sites or simply report on news, the ongoing plan has became to partner up more directly with various sites and people. For example, in the new issue we’ll have a new section that will regularly present statistics and fittings data from BattleClinic, with a view to providing an ongoing quarterly combat report of EVE. Sure, it’s not as official as figures we might be able to get from CCP, but given how long BattleClinic has been collecting data and how much of it there is, it makes sense to do something with it that is slightly different from what’s already out there.
From a design perspective, we wanted to make more of the new avatar resources that were coming to EVE. Ideally we’d like to be able to tease full-body artwork from CCP and create pages where the directors of a corp would stand side by side looking all masterful and intimidating. Unfortunately we discovered that’s not quite possible pre-Incarna, but it’s something we shall keep nudging CCP about until it is.
As for the main aspects of the new design of the magazine, we generally felt that EON was looking a little dated and, as tends to happen over time with magazines, the pages were getting busier and busier as text and images fought for attention. A redesign allows us to re-arrange the furniture and create more space for the eye to move around.
I won’t dwell too much on design issues. I’m not a designer and I don’t get as excited by “doglegs” as others here do, but I will say that the new look doesn’t just make EON more beautiful and easier to read, there are enough new features to make EON feel like a completely new magazine, but enough of the old to ensure consistency so that plenty of what was great and good about the magazine remains.