Brand Analysis: How Magazine

How Magazine logo

Let me begin with this caveat: I generally enjoy and appreciate How Magazine for what it is: a bi-monthly look at the creative industry and graphic design. However, given that they are a periodical focused on good design and marketing, I take issue with a few of their magazine-related practices:

  1. Their email design is terrible! Which is a bit jarring for a magazine that, in its physical format, is usually very well designed, and is all about good design.
  2. They send way too many emails. Most good email marketing practices dictate that you should refrain from blasting your list with too many messages per week at the risk of annoying/alienating your audience. I get almost an email every day, and sometimes more than one a day (some of which are strictly promotions for their advertisers). Very bad email marketing.
  3. I realize they cater to a lot of print designers, and as a result, they run a lot of ads for paper companies in their magazine. I can’t tell you how annoying it is, every time I try to open the magazine to the page I left off on, to be forced instead to deal with the magazine opening to the heavy stock ads for various papers. Terrible usability experience, and just further evidence that they care more about their advertisers than they do their readers.
  4. In all of their design “Annuals”, they only ever give a project explanation/overview to the first prize winners; I’d love the ability to at least understand what each project was beyond just the usual “Name, Client, Team” information; and, even more than that, I’d love to be able to look at each project more closely on their website without having to sign-up/login for anything beyond my already expensive magazine subscription… which brings me to:
  5. Their website is hideous: poorly designed; out of sync with their print edition; ads are placed so highly in the page layout as to be intrusive and harmful to the actual content; content is laid out terribly, with no option to enlarge images (kinda significant for a DESIGN website); and the usability would make Jakob Nielsen suffer some kind of aneurysm.

All of which is to say, I don’t think I’m going to renew my subscription to How this year. It just feels like too much of a sham to continue to pay 30-40 dollars a year on 4-5 issues that are so centered on pleasing their advertisers over their readers and that are so clearly and deeply invested in the never-ending, viscous “awards competition” cycle of revenue generation. Sorry How. We had a good run… but I think .NET magazine and I are a better fit for each other. Plus, you know… I’ve got that thing on the side with Smashing.

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