Over the past couple of years, Think has partnered with Collegiate School to publish SPARK, the magazine for the school’s alumni, parents, and friends. Collegiate School is a coed, college preparatory private school for grades JK-12 located in Richmond, Virginia, and we work closely with their Communications team to publish a tri-annual magazine representative of the school’s developing events, students, faculty, and alumni. We’ve completed eleven issues of the magazine so far, and until recently, we’ve maintained a consistent publishing process — where we begin in InDesign, evolve in InCopy, travel through press, and then finally circulate into mailboxes and onto coffee tables. With the onset of COVID-19, however, we had to ditch the paper and transition to pixels for Collegiate’s most recent issue, as SPARK Summer 2020 was set to make its online-only debut.

 

Bringing an entire magazine to fruition while working remotely might seem difficult to navigate, but utilizing one program significantly eases our process: InCopy. As Collegiate’s Communications team works on text edits in InCopy, we can simultaneously adjust anything design-related in InDesign. The integration of InCopy in our process with Collegiate, even before COVID-19 emerged, has allowed us to cut hours and cost for SPARK magazine, with 53% faster project completion, 47% less design hours needed, and 37% less revision rounds.

 

While our InCopy process remained consistent for Collegiate’s Summer 2020 issue, there were a few changes we adapted to as we embraced SPARK’s digital evolution. While I’m usually in the office, designing the magazine on two 24” screens, I was instead at my apartment’s dining table, working on my 2014 15” Macbook Pro. In addition, SPARK Summer 2020 has a shorter page count due to four less sections included, and it sports new horizontally-oriented dimensions to better complement its latest home in a digital space. While a smaller screen and new dimensions both initially seemed intimidating to acclimate to, I surprisingly ended up loving both more than I thought and found myself able to intuitively design through heavy content with ease.

One of the significant differences with this digital issue is that we didn’t have a firm press deadline looming over us. For previous issues, we had to factor in about three weeks prior to the distribution date to prepare for press checks and to have a cushion of time to make changes before the magazine arrived in people’s mailboxes. For this issue, we simply uploaded a PDF of the magazine to Issuu — where we also implemented some fresh new features. We directly embedded videos and links into the magazine, so when viewing on the web, readers can now click on links throughout and conveniently watch article-related videos in a pop-up window.

 

As the current primary designer of SPARK magazine, I love having the freedom to design intuitively and bring each issue to life. For the magazine’s recent issue, the combination of less time pressure and a much shorter page count allowed me to truly focus on the design and pacing from page to page with more clarity. In this purely digital process, I felt I had a little bit more time to breathe, and I hope I’ve created an issue that reflects that. Take some time to check out the full SPARK Summer 2020 issue below!

See the Issue