Word

Oct 6, 2011

The WORD is the Official Student Publication of Holy Name University, Tagbilaran City, Bohol. Volume XXV Issue I was released last Monday so I thought I'd give some of my thoughts on this first issue. Before we jump into all the brouhaha, let me just say I'm in no position an expert when it comes to school publication. I'm good at procrastinating though. This review will be based on my own meandering experience as a reader, as a designer wanna-be and the web. The purpose of this review is not to downgrade the publication but it is my hope that this will serve as a help for improvement on the next issue. By the power of grayskull, kudos to all who are involved in this issue to infinity and beyond!

The Word Cover

Before diving into all the details let me give the issue my overall rating - 6! It's not bad but it's not mind-blowing either. More like mediocre. Don't know what mediocre means? Look it up in a dictionary. Don't have one? Google it! You lazy bum! It's like the iPhone 4s. Everyone is expecting a new ground breaking phone but do their dismay it's just an upgrade to the current iPhone 4, no new design and all that. Still don't get it huh? It's like the movie Transformers: Dark of the Moon. It has still the awesome CG animation but the story fails to deliver fans expected. Nuh uh? You're hopeless man, hopeless!

mediocre [mee-dee-oh-ker]

of only ordinary or moderate quality; neither good nor bad; barely adequate: The car gets only mediocre mileage, but it's fun to drive. Synonyms: undistinguished, commonplace, pedestrian, everyday; run-of-the-mill. Antonyms: extraordinary, superior, uncommon, incomparable.

Layout

I think the layout is great.  If you're like me who don't read first, well, then you are like me.  People don't jump into the contents.  We scan.  It's automatic, we're born with that reflex whenever we have something in print in our hands.  I think the layout gives value and perspective as a whole.

I think it would be best to use more white space.  Remember, less is more.

Typography

I could not begin to explain how typography is important, no - it is fundamental in web and print.  Good job on working on the headers and titles.  Content text needs more improvement though.  Arial was widely used throughout the page.  I know there are no such rules but serifs are more elegant to look at and to read at.  If you want to capture peoples attention, use Serifs.  However, there aren't any rules against using sans-serif.  Just use the right type for the right mood.

Content

I don't know if it's the trend of school publications these days but every time I scan these issues you're bombarded with all these articles screaming at your face!  The horror!  Of course, this is just me.  Truth be told, I did not read all the articles.  Some articles did not just appeal to me or somehow I could not connect. Some, well, I just do not care.  There are good ones though, keep it up and improve on it.

Also, please do refrain overusing punctuation.  ????????!!!!!!! ????!!!!!! - What in the world?  You're writing for a publication for crying out loud, not a blog!  Use formal writing, improve on grammar and punctuation.  Sorry, this is a blog so I can use all the ???????????????? and !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! that I like.  Live with it.

Feature

I'd rather have a few well-written articles than a bunch of brouhaha ones.  I know there are news, feature, opinion sections and it's like baby, baby, ooh a jungle sorting all these content.  This is where your creativity comes to play.  Be creative, push to the limits, go beyond the box or was it to infinity and beyond?  Think differently!

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do. - Apple Inc.

We will miss you Steve.

Anyway, another thing - brevity.  Google it!  Some of the articles are just going round and round and round and round like a merry-go-round-the-bush.  I think good writing does not mean using flowery unknown words but using simple words and weave them into a string of thoughts that are straight, simple and thought provoking.

Outline

For long articles, I think it's best that you break it down into outlines of topics.  Like what I'm doing now.  That way your points and ideas will be well taken by the reader.  It's also easier for readers to skim through your article, thus, a good chance that they will read it.

Experience

One of the things I learned on web design is user experience.  Now, again I'm no expert on this area but the main point is to give your users the best experience when they use your website.  It's like going into a restaurant, we always hope that we'd get the best service for the occasion.  If a customer leaves with a good experience there's no way he'd never come back.  Yet, even share his experience with his family and friends.  Recommendations follow thus giving you more customers and profit in your end.  Apply the same principle, give your readers the best experience you can give, never settle for less.

Illustration

This issue seriously lacks the illustration-umph it needed.  Guys, read Books of Adam and you'll know what I mean.  Tell your story with good illustrations.  Sure, you have The WORM - what's that again?  Is that piece of trash paper really needed?  I mean, how much can you save on the printing cost minus The WORM?  Why is it called The WORM?  Getting jiggy just for fun?

Think Again by Kat Libot

Web

It's not surprising to know that this publication has no online presence, let alone a mediocre (aha!) HNU website.  I guess it is high time to give this publication some online presence.  Like say, a blog?  A place where some of the featured articles will be published, announcements, behind the scenes, polls, updates and whatnot.  Again, it is not important - it is fundamental in this age.  Authors, writers and contributors should also practice blogging and tweeting and less trolling on Facebook.  An official Facebook page and Twitter account is also a must on the social web.  Since most of us these days are web savvy, why not channel that energy rather than watching K-POP videos?  Visit Mashable and The Next Web for some dash of inspiration.

The Varsitarian

Above is a screenshot of The Varsitarian, The Official Student Publication of the University of Santo Tomas.  Take inspiration from this and go beyond of what they currently have.  The web design is not that impressive but is still good - you can do innovate and push things further.

Logo

Logos have evolved in the course of time and they have become more minimal, simple and elegant.  So, if you have the time and the permission to re-brand your identity as a publication - start with your logo.  See some samples here.

It seems like almost every institution in Bohol are stuck with less-interesting logos like our provincial logo and flag.  The HNU logo though is one of the best I've seen here in Bohol.  So why do have sub-par logos?  It's like we cram a piece of drawing into a design and call it - a logo.  But it's just a logo!  No, it's not just a logo.  Try to study branding and identity and you'll realize that a logo is not just a logo.  You got to pay attention to every detail, every color, texture and type.

Looking Forward

I think overall this a good start for the first issue of this school year.  I look forward to the next issue and hope for improvements.  Again, this is what I mean when I said about giving the publication an online presence.  Give your readers a heads up or a teaser on what's coming on the next issue so they'll crap on their pants waiting in excitement.

Inspiration

I leave you with some inspiration from award-winning newspaper design not the one you're stalking on Facebook.

El Economista (Madrid, Spain)

Hartford Courant (US)

Politiken (Copenhagen, Denmark)

...and a poll!




4 comments

Wow bro! i like this review. The things that you have mentioned here are exactly correct. I would like to highlight the point where you mentioned about getting The Word into the Online World. Most of today's publications have their respected websites and blog spots.

These technological advancements will help people who can't have a copy of the magazine to simply log into the website and read the latest issues. Moreso, they can also view the previous issues and editions of the magazine that they have missed. Online people - those who are facebook fanatics - can also channel their concerns thru a Facebook fan page.

by Junpyo Wafo on October 7, 2011 at 12:39 PM. #

yes that right!

by Micramzz on October 7, 2011 at 12:42 PM. #

Thanks!  I do hope they'll realize the potential they have in their hands.

by Earl on October 7, 2011 at 4:58 PM. #

Amen for that brother!

by uLong on January 5, 2012 at 9:20 AM. #

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