As I cruised through the electronic publications for the literary section of duotrope, I found a few designs that I enjoyed and several more that were somewhat boring. I was surprised at the number of publications that were pulled up for me to sift through, and decided to randomly browse them in search of my favorite layout. It is exciting to think that our compilation of work can be part of a larger publication universe.
When I looked at a website’s design, I found myself dismissing many of them because they were boring or difficult to read. One example of a publication format that didn’t inspire me to read is Burst.
This issue is terribly dull. They published it in shades of gray and without anything to attract the reader. While I do believe in a simplistic approach, this among several other publications, took the idea too far. Minimalistic design makes a great impact, but it should be one of style as opposed to laziness. One fledgling publication who did this correctly is Precipitate.
The incorporation of art and soft, minimalist design is easy to pay attention to. I even liked the lack of bright color, to an extent. This design utilizes the value of empty space, instead of wasting it. I would adopt one aspect of the design for Trillium: the picture link. It is like giving a cover to your website. We all know not to judge a book by its cover and so on. Still, no writer would deny the impression that art and font have on the potential reader.
Of course, I don’t expect us to emulate Burst. We should be more concerned about producing a design like this one:
While Dappled Things has a neat and well composed design, it is not interesting. You might even find it a bit cheesy (a feature that is consistent in all issues). This is something to look out for when putting things together for Trillium. Nobody wants to delve deeper into something commonplace or dull.
As for publications I liked, I searched for nearly an hour without finding one I would consider emulating. Honestly, I think that I learned more from the ones that I disliked. They tell us what not to do, which is just as valuable. There are a few with aspects I appreciated, as in Precipitate, across a number of publications.
Here are some that stand out to me:
Instant City: http://instantcity.org/
(Especially Instant City)
By the way, I am very happy that our magazine has a short and interesting name. Titles are important, and excessively wordy ones repel me like a nasty romance-fantasy book cover.