Magazine production is based on a process that has changed very little since movable type was invented. After all, having a limited number of pages, a set format, a requirement for ad spaces and a set style creates plenty of constraints that have been managed in the same way for a long time.
What has changed is that magazines are now often being produced by people without that specific production background. The outcome is that a focus on production, rather than producing a publication – a fine distinction – results in designers making their own rules about how the publication should be produced with a view to making their production process easier.
The editor of this publication wanted more production flexibility than he could get from his in‑house studio. No one in the studio has a background in publication production and they were buckling under a heavy workload. Unsurprisingly they had created tight rules around the production process which didn’t work for the editor trying to produce a publication.
Adding to the workload, other than the print version, was a digital version, the mailing flysheet and all the articles posted on the organisation's website, ready to be released as required.
We started by improving the design files with text styles, parent pages and object styles. And we did what we always do, we started to document the process in detail so we could make updates as we made improvements.
Along the way, the flysheet was turned into a template. As a result of updating the website with the articles, we started providing images for social media and then production of pdfs of each article for authors to send out.
In order to reduce the confusion in keeping track of the production of the articles and the magazine, we introduced collaborative editing in the form of Adobe InCopy and then moved to Woodwing Studio when it became evident that we needed more powerful functionality. That move included automatic population of the flat plan as the articles were produced, making it much easier to see progress. Using Studio's workflow functionality, email clutter disappeared, and everyone could see where each component was in the process.
After implementing Studio, we conducted an After Action Review of the process with all involved and made changes to the process based on the outcome of the review.
Over time, we added production of the file for the digital version of the magazine. The pdfs of individual articles needed to have an advertisement page added to the end of them so we automated the output of the pdfs and the addition of the ad. No-one ever had to manually perform that task again.
Small design changes have been made along the way to improve readability, make production easier and polish the style.
We eventually gathered up all the production tasks related to the magazine's production. The magazine production time has been reduced and many tasks are automated. The rest of the work is a process that anyone in our studio can handle. Deadlines are easier to meet and the original goal of providing more flexibility over production of content has been achieved. The client no longer needs to manage all the anciliiary bits and prices that accompany the production of a magazine.