Behind the Scenes

Change Before You Have To

As we were getting ready to close this issue, we got word that we received a 2012 Bronze excel Award for General Excellence from Association Media & Publishing (AM&P)

Our award letter noted that this year’s excel Awards competition attracted “an extraordinary number of high-quality entries,” – more than 1,000, so it was especially gratifying that Convene stood out in a category in which judges evaluated the writing, content, graphic design, and overall packaging of numerous association magazines. We’d also just learned that the Society of Publication Designers (SPD) recognized our November 2011 cover with a merit award. Convene was among 700 entries – out of 7,000 – that SPD singled out in its 2012 annual competition.

So right about now, you might be wondering why we’re launching a new, redesigned Convene with this very issue – the handiwork of an entirely new design studio to boot. Why mess with a good thing? Former GE CEO and business icon Jack Welch said it best: “Change before you have to.”

It’s been more than four years since Convene altered its look – and more than 10 years since we’ve worked with a new studio. Even though the magazine’s design has continued to receive high marks from readers and competition judges, we as editors sometimes felt that it constrained rather than reflected the sense of energy with which we approach our content.

Convene has evolved to become a general-interest business magazine that focuses on the meetings industry. We wanted a look that matched our consumer-magazine sensibility. We work hard to bring you applicable and high-level content, but we know that you’re short on time and that many other publications compete for your attention. We thought about how best to bridge those two realities with a design that’s both muscular and flexible – presenting our content in a way that invites rather than intimidates, with more entry points to tease you into more of a deep read than a quick skim. And as more of you access Convene online and via our mobile and tablet app, we knew we needed a format that converted more readily to screens big and small.

All of which was a tall order for our new studio, Manhattan-based Point Five Design. Then we added one more thing: Accomplish all of this without making Convene’s new look unrecognizable from its previous incarnation.

We think Point Five checked off every item on our wish list, and more.

Here’s a rundown of how we’ve changed:

  • We’ve got a slightly smaller frame. We snipped our trim size by 3 percent.
  • We’re a little thicker around the middle. Our paper is a bit heavier, with less see-through. But it’s made from the same recycled material.
  • We’ve broken some rules. There aren’t many lines or borders in our new design.
  • We’ve got a new palette. You’ll notice more white space in our columns and features, different colors, a new font, and illustrations that have a touch more whimsy.

We love our new look – let us know what you think. Because, getting back to our awards, you’re the judge that matters.

Michelle Russell

Michelle Russell is editor in chief of Convene.