Wired is a magazine that focuses on technology, transportation and how they affect the culture, politics and economy of our ever-changing and evolving world. It publishes monthly in print and tablet, and daily online. The dimension of its print version is just a tad smaller than a regular letter-sized paper, and measures at about 10.5 x 8 inches. Its average page count is roughly 100 pages, though sometimes it can be 15-20 pages shorter or longer.
The print version’s dimensions work for this kind of magazine because I find it very practical to the magazine’s brand. Wired is all about modernism and rising technology, so my guess is that its smaller-than-letter size goes with the idea of them giving the magazine a sleeker form. Half an inch might seem like it doesn’t make much of a difference, but it does.
Wired also continues this design onto its print version. Again, its identity relies on minimalistic but effective design, and Wired‘s online design works because its . For contrast, People magazine aims to provide celebrity and entertainment news, and its home page design makes sense because the headlines contain few words, it is very photo-heavy and the content spans the entire page. On the other hand, Wired is not as photo-heavy as a celebrity magazine, and utilizes white space by putting margins on the left and right; these margins also contain arrows that will take you to other sections of the site.
I also noticed that the minimalistic idea shows a lot through the way they designed their menu. Right now, you can see seven categories up at the top. But by clicking on the icon on the top left, the menu expands and shows subcategories that the reader can choose from.
Though I don’t have access to the tablet edition, Wired‘s media kit says that it fuses the best of print and online, which leads me to believe that it brings the best of its print design and makes it more interactive and as appealing as can be to its readers.
Going now into the print version, Wired almost does the opposite of its online. Instead of using plenty of white space and having a huge margin, the print magazine uses a half-inch margin and for the most part fills each and every page to the brim with content. In some few cases, the margin even goes well past the half-inch margin and is about 0.2 inches away from the edge of the paper.
Wired is also separated into several sections, which include:
• Infoporn: Visual Information — This section features maps, charts, photos, and any other graphics-heavy content. This is usually data-intensive, but also visually appealing.
• Alpha: Firsts. The New. The untested. — This is the section where Wired editors exposes new technologies, places, people and other social agendas that readers might not have yet heard of. In magazine-speak, Infoporn and Alpha would constitute most of Wired‘s front-of-book stories and are located within the first 20-30 pages.
• Ultra: What We Love. What You Love (Maybe Too Much). — This section is described as “the place to obsess over things (Wired editors) are excited about. This includes most famously their “must-lists,” presented visually and usually with the magazine’s trademark witty and humorous voice.
• Q: How the World Works. — This section is the home of Wired’s “explainer” items, where they show or explain the culture behind the world that Wired aims to expose. This includes one of their most consistent sections, “What’s Inside,” which describes a particular item and goes in-depth about how it’s made or what’s in it, and “Mr. Know-It-All,” which is usually formatted as a Q&A with one question that’s given a long, well-researched and knowledgeable answer. Ultra and Q are two weird sections, mainly because sometimes they will also appear within Alpha itself.
• Gadget Lab: Wired Style Guide. — Gadget Lab is the section where Wired editors go through the latest products, breaking them down for effectiveness for their readers. It’s usually where the back-of-book stories are located, but in accordance with magazine trends in general, much of the BOB content appears not at the very end after the features, but at the end of the FOB stories just before the well.
Gadget Lab is a very reader-driven section and, by being a very visual and graphics-heavy section, is a good example of how design form follows its function. In this particular spread, for example, the large photos of the products allows the reader to actually see what they look like, and the accompanying blurbs provide just enough context explaining what the editors believe.
Like many magazines, Wired’s Table of Contents isn’t just one page — it’s spread out over two or three pages. But what I like about Wired is that there are two TOC’s: one for the larger features, and one for the rest of the magazine’s sections. In this particular issue, the TOC containing the feature stories shows a single, full-page picture of Leonardo DiCaprio and accompanying text for the cover story as well as four additional stories.
The second TOC, however, is split into three columns and is definitely more modular. The magazine’s sections are clearly seen in this page of the TOC, and contains a lot more than just five stories.Unlike the first TOC, this doesn’t contain one full-page image, but rather incorporates images, illustrations and cutouts within the columns and story descriptions. This TOC is where most of the FOB and BOB stories are (the more visually-reliant content).
The number of columns on a page also varies depending on where in the magazine you’re referring to. Because the FOB and BOB stories are more visual, they can sometimes contain two or three wide columns (about three inches), or in some cases, just one wide column with a huge emphasis on the page’s artistic element. These will also sometimes have multiple skinny columns (measuring at about one inch) and may contain more than one story on a page.
When it comes to the longer features, Wired is consistent about having three columns a page (so a spread would be six columns), but the size of those columns isn’t always the same. From what I can tell, it looks like . I think this works because each feature story has a different feel or tone from the rest, and design elements that work for one story might not suit the other.
As an example, I’ll compare two spreads from two different feature stories in Wired‘s Jan. 2016 issue. One story is the cover story: a Q&A piece with Leonardo DiCaprio, which asks him about the challenges he faced while filming the movie The Revenant, among other things. Throughout the piece are illustrations of leaves and vines, which I believe works because they emphasize the outdoor-ness of the movie, the toughness of Leo’s character, and the raggedness of the tundra where the movie was filmed.
In this piece, the gutters are a little wider and contain a line to separate the columns, which are about 1.5 inches wide. There are also sometimes a wider gap in between two columns when there is something to break it up, such as an illustration or photo caption.
However, another feature story about China and its growing role in the world of technology utilizes completely different design elements. Chinese characters, rather than illustrations, are utilized as graphics, and the columns are just a little wider, measuring at about two inches. In this story, the lack of illustrations and the focus on photos and the Chinese characters, results in a clean design that matches the tone of an article that focuses on technology. Unlike the Leonardo DiCaprio story, this has no use for rough elements or outdoorsy tones.
The last thing I’ll talk about is white space, which for the most part Wired usually only fully uses in the first page or two of a longer feature story. But white space is used in one story in a way that I haven’t seen too much of in Wired. The first sentence of the story is enlarged, but spread out in the top half of the page. The drop caps in the story breaks are smaller than the block that they occupy, resulting in a white space that makes the drop cap seem isolated. The same case applies to the photos, which are smaller than the block that you would assume they’d occupy.
In my personal opinion, I’m not sure the design for this story works. The article is a feature story on a father who has developed a video game about his young son’s battle with brain cancer, and after looking at the design, my first thought is that it seems very random, and I can’t figure out the reasoning behind using typography as art, or even the use of white space around the drop caps and images.
Another reason is that it does not seem consistent with the rest of the magazine. Wired has a very distinct design identity, and in my opinion does a great job of making sure the designs of its pages are different, but consistent. This story doesn’t look like it belongs in the magazine — to me, it just seems like a random break before you turn the page and you realize you’re reading Wired again.