A great digital magazine layout is one of the things that sets a magazine apart from other publications. Magazines are meant to be read, but they’re also a visual experience.
You might not notice all of the work that goes into creating a digital magazine layout that looks fantastic, but you’ll definitely notice if it’s been done poorly. The last thing you want is to lose readers because your design isn’t up to par.
So how do you create digital magazine layouts that are functional, visually interesting, and easy to make? Read on for your step-by-step guide to creating a great digital magazine layout for any device, size and orientation!
1. Plan Your Content
You should plan out the content of your magazine before you even touch a computer. You can’t properly plan your layout if you don’t know what you’re going to be publishing.
What stories are you going to include in the issue? Will you have a photography spread? Will it be text-heavy or a balanced mix of media and text?
You should have answers to all of these questions already before you begin designing your magazine. If you have an editorial staff, work with them to decide on the final content that will make it into the magazine issue.
Also, you need to make sure that the big idea for your magazine’s content is there. However, try to refrain from constantly repeating the idea throughout your magazine. It will be too much for your readers to handle.
Once you know what your magazine will include, then you can get started on building your layout.
2. Use Universal Themes
There are a lot of pages that go into a magazine, and designing each of them one by one would be a drain on your time. Instead, create a theme that will help to determine your overall layout and feel of the magazine.
You don’t want to create just one theme because then your magazine will look the same on every page. You want unity and cohesiveness, but it shouldn’t be too uniform or it will be boring to look at.
Instead, you can create multiple themes. For example, create a theme for the first page of a feature, and a page for the text-pages in between.
Having themes can also speed up your content creation process a lot more. You can have several different template pages for each type of pages such as Cover, TOC, Editorial, Articles, Videos, Advertisement, and more. Having a universal theme for your content/pages means that for the next issue, you don’t need to brainstorm or work on your content layout from scratch.
3. Eye-catching Cover is Key
The cover is the first thing that anyone will see and notice about your magazine. If your magazine cover is boring and unappealing, it might put off your potential readers from checking out your magazine altogether.
Your magazine cover will be one of the key aspects when you promote your magazine, especially to potential readers. It acts as a shopping window, and everything on your magazine cover is meant to create an image of your brand.
Don’t get stuck thinking that your magazine cover has to be a static image with a famous person smiling! Especially with the current digital magazine tools available, there are endless potentials and ideas to make your cover very attractive. For example, you can place an animated cover with video or audio playing on the background.
4. Color & Contrast
Think of any magazine on the shelf of a convenience store. If you pick one up at random and flip through it, will you see mostly white or will you be greeted with a burst of colors?
Color has a big influence on the look and feel of your magazine. It can even help to set the tone of specific articles you include within each issue. As you design your digital magazine layout, make sure that you’re thinking about the different ways that you can use color.
Adding contrast to digital magazine layouts helps to make them visually interesting instead of too boring or jarring.
For example, not all of your background pages should be white. Maybe the feature page has a patterned background or a photograph behind it to add some visual interest. Adding a sidebar in a different color also draws the eye to the information that you want to highlight.
This would be an excellent time to think outside the box! Learn more about the color study and color harmony and experience different color schemes.
5. The Right Font
We all constantly interact with type in almost every aspect of our lives. But did you realize how fonts affect what we read and influence the choices we make? It’s real science too.
The right fonts can help express further what your brand image is. Is your magazine portraying stylish, chic vibes? Or is it supposed to be elegant? Creative?
It goes both ways, too. If you choose the wrong font, your content (and overall magazine feel) can come across as unreliable, or boring, or too authoritative.
Also, remember to not go overboard when choosing fonts for your content. Too many different types of fonts will confuse and tire your audience. Try to use not more than 2-3 font types throughout the content of your digital magazine.
6. Content Formatting is Important
It goes without saying that one of the most important parts of the digital magazine layout is the content formatting. However, sometimes editorial teams are too caught up in trying to cram as much information as possible on one page, and the whole layout ends up looking too crowded.
Make sure that your content is aligned properly, and use the proper margin and spacing. Proper spacing makes your readers feel good, and you do want them to feel good reading your content, right? No one likes to read content on extremely tight spacing. The tighter your letters are together, the harder it is for people to identify the shapes that make up different letterforms.
The good thing about creating layouts for digital magazines is that you don’t really have to worry about space, as it’s unlimited. Yes, you read that right. With digital magazines, you can have a vertical and horizontal scroll. That way, you don’t have to try to cram as much information as possible into a fixed dimension as you would with print.
For example, you need to be careful with columns. Too many columns won’t look good on mobile- which is most of what your readers will use to read your content. Make sure that your content doesn’t have more than 2 columns at the same time unless you use responsive design and set the columns to collapse on smaller screens. Read on for more information about responsive digital magazine layouts.
7. Take Into Account the Responsive Design of Digital Layout
With great technology comes great responsibility.
Or something to that effect. The best thing about digital magazines that separates them from print is that digital magazines allow the responsive design to come into play.
Responsive design simply means that instead of having a fixed static PDF page, as you would with print, your content will adjust accordingly to the device it’s being viewed on. This means that your content can look and read great on any device, size, and orientation! Isn’t that great? No more pinch to zoom just to read one simple sentence.
However, we feel that the responsive design is almost always overlooked when publishers are creating content- most probably because people are so used to designing for print. We feel not doing responsive design is such a missed opportunity to step up your digital magazine.
Check out the video above for example. You can clearly see how different it would be when readers are viewing the PDF content versus responsive. It might not seem like a big deal, but if you can optimize your content as best as possible, why not? It’s the little things that separate a good magazine from a great magazine.
8. Don’t Overdo Effects
With the tools available today, especially for digital content creation, there are tons of ways to implement cool widgets and effects to your content.
Remember to not go overboard with this, as it is very easy to do so.
Too many effects on your digital magazine can make your readers feel tired very easily, and they will most likely leave your magazine before they finish reading the content because it would be too much to handle.
For example: adding a parallax effect to your content has a very subtle effect, but it gives a more elevated experience to your readers when they scroll through your pages. You don’t need a super grand and elaborate effect to wow your readers, just a couple of subtle, but cool, effects should do the trick!
9. Pictures Matter
The saying “A picture is worth a thousand words” might be cliche, but it’s also correct. Your magazine isn’t finished without adding media.
Adding pictures within your magazine articles can have more impact and help deliver the message you want to.
You need to make sure that your pictures are of high quality. Ensure that the pictures added throughout your content are sharp, in focus (nothing says unprofessional like blurry pictures), and relevant to your content.
However, this doesn’t mean that you need to upload a 50MB-sized picture on your digital magazine. Doing so will simply make your issue size to be much bigger, which means longer download and loading time, and taking more storage on your reader’s device. Images with 72-110 DPI should be good enough to be viewed on digital devices. You can also use tools such as TinyPNG to help compress the size of your images.
10. Don’t Forget Other Multimedia Options
Whether your magazine in print, digital, or both, you should always include multimedia in your magazine. For digital magazine layout especially, the possibilities are endless.
Not sure what to add? Try adding video and audio for starters. Add a SoundCloud or music playlist that your readers can listen to while reading your content. Add valuable videos that your readers can watch without leaving your magazine.
But don’t stop there! You can also add GIFs, background video, panoramic pictures, and even augmented reality in your digital magazine. Check out the video above on our Panorama Effect widget!
Create Your Digital Magazine Layout With MagLoft
Now you’re prepared to create a fantastic digital magazine layout that’s ready for digital publications.
Ready to put your design skills into practice? Use MagLoft to build a digital magazine from scratch, no coding experience required. Whether you’ve already built your magazine on different software or are looking for a way to get started, MagLoft makes creating digital magazines affordable and easy.