Last few weeks we have been writing a lot about cover pages. We presented what we thought were the best ones from the last year, we gave you some tips, and we introduced you to the cover page design. This post will discuss one that is, well, not that good.
Yesterday I was reading an article by Robert Newman and his opinion on the cover page of the new magazine “Dr. Oz The Good Life”. Mr. Newman shares his disappointment and I must agree with him. This cover is simply subpar.
Since our readers are interested in what, how and why of magazine design, in this post I will try to explain in detail what in my opinion is wrong with this cover and what could have been improved.
Let’s start with a masthead. As Mr. Newman stated, this is the biggest problem on the cover.
It is obvious why is this such a problem but let me explain. First of all, its size and shape are wrong. The size of the logo is the same as the main coverline on the bottom of the cover. There is this awkward space around the masthead that is empty and it is a waste of valuable space in my opinion.
Typography of the masthead is also a problem for me. I am sure there were much better choices than this. And if you take a closer look you will see that the masthead font and the font of the rest of cover lines are not the same. They are way too similar. Just look at the capital letters E and O. Very similar, but not the same. Another clash that should not be there. Another similarity you can see in the words “Dr. Oz” and in the rest of the masthead. It seems that words “Dr. Oz” are in some rounded sans font. Take a closer look and you will see. Again not good. The whole masthead should be in same font or in totally contrasting one. Not in a similar one.
As Mr. Newman stated there is nothing distinctive about it and its structure is wrong. I think that different design and font selection would be much better. Also this magazines best selling point is Dr. Oz itself. So why not make the Dr. Oz much bigger. Maybe some condensed, elongated font would be better.
Arrangement of the masthead, for example, could have been, large “DR. OZ” and below it smaller “The Good Life”. In this way masthead would be positioned in top left corner with “Dr. Oz” as a focal point of the masthead. This is just one proposition. I am sure that there are many more. As I stated above, the size of the masthead is clashing with the main coverline at the bottom. Both in size and in font similarity. There is no contrast. The masthead just does not stand out.
Second big problem is the image. Jeans and sweater? OK, causal style, I get it. But in my opinion some better styling would be more appropriate. White shirt, blue blazer… Something more stylish. Image is dull and flat. There is no depth in it. Nothing special and for the first issue you should do something really special. But I leave this to photographers and photo editors to discuss further.
Although I do not have a problem with the font selection in coverlines, but the arrangement of them is another weak point. I think that the serif font used in the middle right coverline “Super Soft Skin” would be much better choice for the main coverline. Also the size could have been increased, by some 10-20%. In this way main coverline would dominate the page and it would be instantly recognizable as a focal point. Not to mention it would stand out against other coverlines and the masthead. In this way it just blends with the rest.
Headline in the top left cover “Drop 10 LBS…” uses numbers, but again not in an interesting way. Number 10 could have been made in this nice Bodoni looking serif font. Just to pop out from the rest of the headline. And the number should be a bit larger.
And there is this third font in there, above number 10, “easy plan”. This font is used only once as I can see. Why not some more? Why only once? In this way it looks it is there by mistake and not by purpose. I would use it more or none at all. If it was supposed to be used only once, than it should have been bigger.
Than there is this oval shape in top right corner. I don’t like oval shapes. Circle is much nicer. But, that is not the only problem. Maybe some double stroke would give it some panache. White color also does not work for me. Maybe some shade of blue or a yellow or pure cyan would be better or some other contrasting color that would make this oval pop out. Again, something is missing there.
And if I see it right this font in the oval shape looks condensed. So, it is different then the others on the page but not clearly different. There is no need for this. One font width is just enough.
Other cover lines are nice and neat. More or less, everything is fine with them.
Basically the problem is not in the strange oval shaped objects or four different fonts, don’t get me wrong. It is just that they are not arranged and designed in a nice and appealing way. Generally speaking this cover lacks some diversity, excitement and some playfulness. As you can see there is hardly anything in it that captures your attention.
I am not a Dr. Oz follower but I remember I have seen one or two TV shows by him. As I remember 75% of the audience were women. I suppose the same will be with the magazine. And this cover is not appealing for women.
It seems that the art department just did not have enough time do develop it further. It is visible that they did not spend enough time playing around with the cover and did not test some more options. When designing cover page, you just have to play around. Test and test and test. Numerous coverline choices, numerous type arrangements, numerous color schemes, shapes, sizes. We can only guess what happened during last stages of magazine production.
This is another proof that good cover design takes time and patience and I think that with few different choices both in font selection, sizing and arrangement this could have been much better looking cover page and I am looking forward to see the second issue.