The UK edition of Wired magazine has undergone a redesign, with new layouts, new templates and new typefaces from A2 and Sawdust. We asked creative director Andrew Diprose about the changes, and Sawdust’s Jonathan Quainton and Rob Gonzalez about their striking 3D lettering (above)…
The cover of Wired UK’s August issue is startling. Under a bold red coverline sits a menacing image of Andy Serkis as Caesar in the forthcoming Planet of the Apes, with bloodshot eyes and red warpaint smeared across his forehead.
The cover follows a similar formula to previous issues of Wired but inside, the magazine has been redesigned. It’s not a radical departure in terms of style, but changes include new templates and grids, a new layout and new typefaces from A2, plus some experimental 3D lettering for section openers created by Sawdust. Creative director Andrew Diprose says the changes aim to simplify the reading experience, while allowing for a more generous use of space and imagery…
CR: Why did you feel the magazine needed a redesign?
Andrew Diprose: I’ve been with Wired since its UK launch five years ago. We’ve introduced a lot of gradual changes, but it got to a point where it was time to strip things back to the bare bones – right down to the grid, template, guides and type settings.
CR: Was it done in-house?
AD: Yes, but we also brought in Matt Willey to act as consultant in the early stages. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Matt in the past, and it was really important to have him on board. We’re working on the magazine every day, and we wanted a fresh pair of eyes that could approach the template differently.
CR: What are the key changes you’ve made to the magazine? And what issues with the old layout were you hoping to address?
AD: One example would be changing to a 14 column grid. We enjoyed the flelxibility of running two, three and four columns on a 12-column grid. With a couple of floating columns, some of the challenges with mix of stories in the front of book have been solved.
The new template also runs closer to the edge of the trim. It gives us a little more flexibility with space but ensures the word count stays similar. With the floating columns, we can introduce extra sidebars or kickers without disrupting the flow of the body copy as much. We can also add micro stories that don’t require a hundred words.
Another change is the structure – we’ve moved the longer features to the back, so they can run a little more text heavy, although they’ll still be broken up with snappier, image-led articles so the read doesn’t become too dense. In the back of the magazine, we had a great section called Test, where the team would review new equipment like smartphones and cameras, but I always felt it was in a bit of a ghetto in that position. We’ve now combined it with our Fetish section (which covers the month’s cleverest, most beautiful product) and created a really exciting section, now called Gear.
CR: You’ve also introduced new typefaces from A2 – could you tell us more about these?
AD: We’re a big fan of A2’s work, especially ‘Beckett’, but we wanted to move it on a bit for WIRED, so they’ve done some work rounding it off a little. We wanted to push away from Tungsten for display type, but we needed to have something pretty condensed, and wanted the option of running headlines super big. We were looking for a set of three weights in different widths. Beckett seemed like a good starting place – it’s now just a little more lifestyle, a little friendlier.
CR: And what about Sawdust’s new type for section openers?
AD: Our old section openers were done by Studio 8 – they were great, but we wanted something new and exciting, something that almost looked like an image.
CR: What was the design inspired by?
Jonathan Quainton (Sawdust): The typeface was inspired by Fast Company and Playstation, previous projects of ours which Andrew referenced while handing us the brief. These projects contained very progressive and challenging typography so with this in mind we realised it was a great opportunity to produce something playful that would appeal to and entertain the readers of WIRED…constructing the letters was an exploratory process as the aim was to disregard conventions and preconceptions of traditional typography whilst retaining readability.
CR: How was the type created?
JQ: The final typography was treated using Photoshop and was all manually drawn using brushes. We like to explore how light and shadows react by taking our own photography and then using them as a reference point when redrawing on the computer.
Rob Gonzalez (Sawdust): The Playstation and Fast Company work Andrew had referenced gave the typography dimensionality within an ethereal environment. So for us it was a staged process, firstly designing the typeface and later applying the treatment.
CR: The new issue features some great full bleed photography and illustration, too. Are you placing more emphasis on this from now on?
AD: Yes, that said we’ve always wanted to be able to show off illustration and photography in a generous manner. Wired and Condé Nast really pride themselves on great reproduction, and want to show off images in a big, luxurious way. In the past, I think we’ve tried to fit too much on the page. Now, I’d rather edit a little harder and show off our art to it’s full potential, whether on paper or a glorious backlit screen.
On the cover, too, I favour simple strong imagery – newsstands are still so important to us, and it’s that balance between keeping things simple and being ‘shouty’. This month’s is a really powerful image, and we’ve added high build gloss varnish to bring out all the cracks and creases in [Serkis]’s face. We always aim for our print offering to feel good in the hand.
CR: What changes have you made to the digital editions?
AD: A lot of our readership experiences Wired on tablet and mobile, so it was essential to have a redesign run effectively over all platforms – we wanted to add some new details and a different approach to using the space available on the iPads and Samsung editions. We’ve added rule detailing. We’ve also moved distracting buttons and navigation points into a left hand column, now we can run them with without compromising the main page composition.
Every six months or so, I think everything we knew about the way we approach the tablet edition is wrong. Previously it was very busy – a tight design, full pages, lots of animation – but I don’t think people want to read like that now. They are enjoying simple galleries, video and audio content that enrich the storytelling, the actual reading experience wants to be much lighter and less demanding. The new design, in print and on tablet, feels less claustrophobic – it’s like a breath of fresh air.”
CR: And how would you say Wired UK has changed, visually, since it launched?
AD: As our very visually literate readership and audience has grown and matured, I like to think we’ve grown and matured too. The imagery, layout and the way we approach features in particular is a little more restrained, a little more considered. We get really positive feedback from the creative community, but it’s important to us to keep WIRED design (like the magazine’s content) innovating. I want people to be surprised, to pick up WIRED and be challenged, to think, ‘woah, I didn’t expect that!’
The August issue of Wired magazine is available in newsagents from July 3. To subscribe, see wired.co.uk/subscriptions