Magazine And Newspaper Templates Rock The Publication Design Boat

Wow. Roger Black, the consummate magazine and newspaper redesign mogul has rocked the design world with the announcement of his new company Ready-Media, which seeks to sell high quality templates to publications seeking an overhaul/upgrade. The Society of Publication Designers blog has lit up with commentary from many of the top designers chewing over the ramifications of Roger’s new product. Luke Haymen, a partner at Pentagram and architect of high profile redesigns for New York Magazine, Time and The Atlantic comments that “…I think this may not be such a bad thing. These designs are decent. In fact I’d say they’re better than 90% of the magazines and newspapers out there. They are generic but of course they have to be to have broad appeal. A good designer will take them and customize them.” He and a few other super star designers seem to be the exception in the commentary with many bemoaning how this plays into the publishers hand of cost cutting at any opportunity and a demotion for unique one of a kind design.

With top names contributing templates to the collection have publication designers just been handed their Getty moment?


There Are 16 Comments On This Article.

  1. I agree with you the designs are generic, but very nicely-done generic. I can see how a publication could make these work with little, or no, modification.

    I didn’t see any mention of pricing. If these templates are priced comparable to hiring a good-quality designer to do the work you, I wonder about the value. You could get something unique working with a designer. If it costs a couple hundred bucks per template, I could see these, dare I say, McPubs getting a lot of interest. I’ve said before more, new, independent publishing ventures would probably be a good thing for the overall market. If these templates help make that happen, it’s probably a good thing.

    It was interesting to see the “sky is falling” comments in the Society of Publication Designers blog. It reminded me a lot of a lot of photography threads.

  2. Is that the waaaaahmbulance I hear in the background? The guy saw a need for a product and decided to fill the void. Not much you can say about that. This is commerce afterall. Times are a changing and you gotta change with ’em or get left behind. Easier said than done perhaps but, the sooner people stop complaining the sooner they can start trying to keep up or surpass.

  3. A magazine run by a large conglomerate like Conde Nast or Hearst is probably not going to make use of these templates. I see that having these templates, in combination with print-on-demand publishing services like MagCloud could actually bring back the independent ‘zines that covers a niche market. Afterall, aren’t services like APhotoFolio or Livebooks basically the same concept? I don’t think web designers are crying mercy just yet.

  4. It was just a matter of time before the ADs & designers started feeling the same pain that Photo Editors have been feeling for the last two years.

    What was that other career you had in mind…..?

  5. You know, this ain’t a lot different from what Mariano Pastor is doing with the product photo world. We need to take advantage of what we do well that is repeatable and capitalize it.

    Eventually the templates will become ineffective and the call for something original will prevail. That will be co-opted and we’ll start over again. Hummm, not a bad way to recycle.

  6. john mcd.

    This is ROGER BLACK we’re talking about here. It’s sort of like Pete Turner selling his work as clip art.

  7. Creative professionals could try to “wait it out” to see if publications come back to wanting custom designed layouts. This is much like photographers waiting out the market to see if any companies or agencies want something more than stock photography, or whatever they can find on Flickr. I suppose if creative professionals knew what to do while they waited, then maybe waiting would be a good strategy.

    The bigger issue I see is not that this fulfills a niche in the market, but that this changes perceptions of design. When advertising and design are boiled down to line items companies need to justify, they need ways to quantify the value. We have seen examples that good design, or even award winning work, will enhance the bottom line of any campaign or publication. So we are back to educating our clients, and the public about how creative professionals add value to publications and advertising.

    Anyone can go to nearly any grocery store, and buy great ingredients. There is absolutely no guarantee that those great ingredients will result in a great meal.

  8. Rob, on the non-template side, do you know anyone who has used Adobe’s new iPad magazine app creation tool? That’s what they used to build Wired’s app, right? Will be cool to see how people — and by people, I mean professional designers who know what they’re doing — do with it.

    MagCloud’s one click to ipad thing is cool, but if it’s just taking the print magazine and making it look iPad-friendly, then they’re missing the point of publishing on the iPad.

  9. I worked as an AD and designer for years but I often suspected, in spite of all the banter and the existence of college majors studying it, that graphic design is not really much of a profession or art form. It’s skill, but not an end to itself. When it tries to be more than that, you get masturbatory gibberish, like RayGun magazine and all that Cranbrook crap from the 90s. Look at how disjointed and illegible Esquire has become….

    Same thing for web design. In spite of all the energy expended, the best layouts are butt simple and familiar, not even original. I don’t want to learn how to navigate some pretentious Flash site — give me a Blogger or Tumblr template please… or a LiveBooks version. Don’t give me some “new” design that probably won’t work nearly as well.

    Good design should be an attractive, logical container for quality content and the rest should get the Hell out of the way.

    So sock it to them Roger. Just like the dummy text says, “Just add content”. Give us better quality pictures and words set in a legible, functional layout and I’ll buy that magazine.

  10. lechatnoir


    If graphic design is just a skill . Then you are just the owner of a digital camera .