Holding It All Together: Structure, System, Form

October 22, 2019: First Day of Class, Empathy Video, Name Game, Different Types of Magazines/Visuals Project Introduction
Today was the first day of C-Mini!! I came into this class very worried and scared because it’s a big shift from the P mini and I heard/saw from my friends that it was a lot of work. However, I was anxious and excited to start something new and start a track that I may pursue in the future!

Project 1: Grids
7 minute presentation with Jamie about Popular Mechanics using its structure, system, and form. *Visual Material & Verbal Delivery*
things to consider for physical magazine: macro vs micro view, type, graphic visuals, layout, structure, grid

October 23, 2019: Magazine Scanning, Analysis, Gridding
I started analyzing the physical magazine of Popular Mechanics with several steps:
(1) look through the magazine once fully, without any stops
(2) go through the magazine again, looking at the common color
(3) look at the types of layouts used for standard articles versus featured articles; is there a consistent layout that is used for the articles? if there are, how many templates does the magazine seem to use?
(4) what is the layout of the magazine from a bigger perspective? (macro view)

The first and last picture show my attempts at seeing the grids used in the table of contents and a standard article page. I used tracing paper and a ruler to try to see how many grids are present. The second, third, and fourth pic shows the overall work I did for each page because I learned that Popular Mechanics does not use a set “template” layout for their articles (there seemed to be a lot of different elements used in each page depending on the article). The fifth picture shows my handwritten quick sketch of the macro view of the magazine. (I used this to later refine the macro view in the presentation)

October 24, 2019: Critique/Feedback with Vicki, info, talking with Sherri & Mason, developing grid for our keynote
During class, we had the opportunity to present our findings. Here is a list of what I found through my analysis:
(1) 7 column grid system
(2) inconsistency in layout & form
(3) orange & black color scheme
(4) A LOT of ad breaks between the standard articles (made me question why there were so many ads…BETWEEN THE ARTICLES because that makes it inconvenient for readers
In general, I got myself used to characteristics and content of a physical magazine. I never looked at a lot of magazines growing up so I was trying to understand and figure out what makes up a magazine.

After Jamie and I shared our initial findings about Popular Mechanics, Vicki and Sherri really appreciated the fact that we made a macro view for the physical magazine. Through talking to them, I understood why it’s important to view a magazine from macro to micro because sometimes always looking at the details in micro view blinds me as a designer from seeing the bigger picture. In class, Jamie and I learned that having three main points during the presentation can be helpful because we only have 7 minutes to present the structure, system, and form of the magazine in physical and web platform. Therefore, Jamie and I discussed potential directions for our presentation. We started listing random adjectives/words that we could think of to describe Popular Mechanics. After our listing, we narrowed down three words to describe Popular Mechanics: structural, broad, and divided (division).

Structural: In the physical paper magazine, we could see a structural layout where everything was mostly displayed in a rectangular form. In addition, the hanging lines on each page were the same in terms of showing the article number, author, and page number. The colors of the red orange and black are used consistently throughout the standard articles and the typefaces used are pretty consistent.

Broad: When viewing the table of contents, I noticed that there are a lot of topics for the standard articles, but the topics were very broad. However, I did not think of this as necessarily ineffective to the audience. These broad categories allow readers to have a range of topics to choose from because all of those articles still relate to technology, science, or DIY in some way or form. (the main audience) The articles could be informational to the readers, but these interesting topics of “Powersports”, for example, provide a sense of entertainment to the rather static magazine.

Divided: In the physical magazine, one thing that really stuck out to me was how divided the standard articles were. The flow of the articles were broken, divided, and disrupted by full-page advertisements. I wondered if this was effective in any way. Why can’t the two page spread have articles side by side and the ad on the back of the two page spreads? I found this disruption to be confusing as I was trying to follow through with the flow of the magazine. I found that sometimes the advertisements were more colorful than the actual articles itself, which really divided my attention to the magazine and was distracting.

October 29, 2019: Dry-Run Presentations & Work Session
After talking and working with Jamie in Keynote, we began to make the slides for our presentation. We organized the structure of the presentation in the following way:
Intro → History → Target Audience → Structural, Broad, Divided → Structural Layout of Physical Magazine → Structural Layout of Web Platform → Compare & Contrast Physical & Web → Broad Categories of Physical → Broad Categories of Web → Division of Physical → Division of Web → Reestablishing Target Audience → Closing

This is a view of the slides for our first presentation (10/29)

After our dry-run of our presentation, Jamie and I were over the 7 minutes by about a minute and half. We were expecting this to happen so we wanted to rethink about whether some parts were unnecessary and how to clarify & condense certain contents. After hearing and reviewing the feedback we got from Vicki, Sherri, and our classmates, we decided to follow some of the comments & suggestions: (1) rechoosing three words that help us to form a narrative of Popular Mechanics, (2) have a clear thesis, (3) talk less about the leaf blower article (because it was confusing to go back and forth between standard and feature articles), (4) find unique adjectives that are only applicable to Popular Mechanics, (5) rethink about the color palettes of our presentation.

Edits & Slight Directional Changes:
After considering and understanding what worked & what didn’t work, Jamie and I worked on developing a clear thesis statement that would provide a storyline to our presentation. Developing a thesis allowed us to address who our audience is and how the elements of Popular Mechanics supports their target audience. Furthermore, we were also able to come up with three new adjective that describe Popular Mechanics.
New adjectives: Static, Separated, Save
Thesis: Popular Mechanics’ static visuals, separated content, and articles that save time and money attract those who are interested in science, DIY and technology.
With our new adjectives, we will be talking about the layouts, color schemes, graphics, and organization of content in the physical and web platforms.
I mostly took notes online in my Notes on my Mac, so here is a screenshot of the notes I took while making our updated presentation:

After a lot of discussing with Jamie and looking at our first presentation that we made, we reorganized the order of our presentation:
Intro → History → Audience → Thesis → 3 Adjectives → Physical Magazine Static → Web Static → Physical Magazine Separated → Web Separated → Physical Magazine Save → Web Save → Thesis → Closing

In our re-organization and reestablishment of our new words, we took out most of the leaf blowing articles in the beginning to have a better flow. In the Static section, Jamie and I talk about the layout of Popular Mechanics, such as the grid system, colors, typeface, and type hierarchy. In Separate, we talk about the advertisements that separate the articles and disrupt the flow of reading. In Save, we specifically talk about the leaf blowing articles to discuss how the content that is supported with visuals and additional text allows readers to save time and money.
I believe that this reorganization of the structure of our presentation allows a better flow in terms of starting from macro to micro, and then focusing on the most specific featured article for the issued magazine.

October 30, 2019: Meeting with Vicki (Wednesday Morning)

This is a view of the slides of our presentation. (meeting with Vicki on 10/30)

When we met with Vicki on Wednesday morning (10/30), Jamie and I had the opportunity to do another run through of our presentation with the edited and revised slides. A really helpful macro feedback that we got from Vicki was about our three main words of Static, Separate, and Save. When we used these three specific words, it almost seemed like Jamie and I were trying to portray Popular Mechanics in a negative way (i.e. the separation of the content vs. ad is not working); however, another way to think about it was that through the separation there is still clarity through its structure. Vicki suggested three new words that had a better connotation and still utilized our supporting evidence to back up the three words. Through her help, our new and final words were Consistent, Connected, and Convenient.

With these three words, we were able to rewrite our thesis:
Popular Mechanics’ consistent visuals, connected content, and convenient articles that save time and money attract those who are interested in science, DIY, and technology.

In addition, Vicki and I talked a lot about the macro view layout. The colors from the standard palette on Illustrator was simply not working. It was too bright and the different colors for each featured article was unnecessary. I looked into focusing on one color scheme to make the macro view layout physically and visually easier to view and comprehend. In addition, I took out the page numbers as those were unnecessary and tried different methods for the page outlines in black. The black came out too strong on the screen and provided a bigger contrast with the standard colors.
Below is the “history” of my macro views:

The pictures of each macro view is in order of my trials and attempts. I realized that color choices make a huge difference for viewers to understand what I am trying to show; just because I have a legend at the bottom for each color does not mean it is clear enough to understand. I tried to organize the different feature articles with an ombre style of a blue color palette, but Jamie and I talked about how it was unclear because of the different shades of blue: one of the feature articles only has three spreads while another has 7 spreads, and it was difficult to see that with the blue ombre. Therefore, I decided to just keep the feature articles a consistent blue color but add a line in between pages that would start a new feature article. Another change that I made was to reduce the opacity of the parts of the macro view that I was not talking about. Originally, I just took out the colors and made the pages white, but reducing the opacity of the pages that I wasn’t talking about made it visually more appealing and show the highlighted pages better.
These are the final slides of our presentation (10/30/19)

Along with the three words that reshaped our presentation, Jamie and I sat down and worked on minor fixes in terms of visuals and aesthetics for the final presentation. We also made sure that the sentences we were saying were concise and to the point so that there is a 1:1 balance of the screen and the person talking.