I am working on a redesign for the printed version of <em>Skeptic</em> magazine. The magazine is published by the Skeptics Society — a nonprofit 501(c)(3) educational organization that promotes science literacy and critical thinking. Supported by leading scientists, scholars, journalists and magicians, the society investigates fringe science and paranormal claims.
My understanding is that the median age of our readers is approximately 50. Most of our readers have one degree, while over half have two or more degrees. About 70% of our readers are male. Interestingly, most of our readers are more highly educated than those who read Scientific American.
Skeptic magazine has had much the same design for the last 15 years, and it's time to freshen it up, modernize, and attract a larger audience — a challenge, no doubt. We'd like to have the readership of some of the big names like: Discover, Scientific American, and Popular Science, but with limited print budgets, and very minimal advertising, we cannot match the production values of those publications. Also, our magazine is much more text-heavy.
I am interested in a critique of the overall design. Do you think the body copy / heading combination works? I understand it is not traditional to use a sans-serif face for body copy. I've identified Optima nova for body copy, body headings and photo captions, and Parry for main headings. Optima, even though it is a sans-serif, has subtle variations in the strokes of its letterforms. In the sample PDF provided here, I use a non-pro version of Optima, so, unfortunately, it is lacking many of the essentials of the Open-Type version such as: ligatures, old-style numerals, and small-caps. The body copy is set at 8.5 pt over 12 pt. The table of contents was a challenge in that we wanted to condense it down from two full pages into one. It uses Optima at 6.5, 7.75 and 8.5 pts over 10pt leading.
So far, the redesign only covers the main sections of the magazine that are printed black text on white, uncoated stock. Ignore the quality of the images in this PDF: they are just low-res previews.
I would really appreciate any thoughtful feedback you are willing to share. Please ask any questions you need answered in order to respond.