Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Content Design: Serendipitous Word Placement

Writers tend to believe that the words themselves are all important. But it’s becoming increasingly obvious to me that how you place the words on the page is equally, if not more, important. I’ve been looking at magazine layouts and analyzing why some layouts work for me while others don’t.

I realized that I’m attracted to collages that assemble a variety of different items – text, photos, graphics. The juxtaposition is often unexpected but compelling. It’s also an opportunity to use small pieces of information that wouldn’t be significant on their own but are effective as part of a larger piece. A unifying theme creates unity out of diversity. Here are some examples:

The road map pulls together an assortment of information about the Florida Keys. The combination of photos, objects and text is emotionally appealing.

An assortment of sticky notes is an interesting way to integrate short pieces outlining various celebrities’ dream vacations.

You don’t need photographs to create a collage. This word cloud introduces an article and can be read either as a continuous whole or as isolated words and phrases.

This page combines various short pieces about vacation rental properties. Rather than one long article, there is a compilation of short, quick-to-read pieces. The narrow red column down the middle and the red flags along the bottom provide a unifying theme.

Another way to link bite-size pieces of text is by numbering them. Small pieces in a different size and/or different colour of ink help to break up the page.

This layout combines a number of different techniques. The abundance of white space provides a unifying frame and simplifies what would otherwise be a very busy combination of different design techniques.

Note: Photographed page layouts are from Travel and Leisure, April 2010; Budget Travel, April 2010; HiLines, Winter 2008

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