Why is the ‘r-word’ being uttered, who first brought it up? Did it come from the publisher or the publication’s social media manager? Are the reasons compelling enough to look deeper into whether this is the right next step? Take this fast quiz and see what you think. (And, if the answer to a redesign for you is no, but the list below leaves you questioning some aspects of your publication or its goals, then there’s some info at the end of this paper about design ‘tweaks.’)

Yes or No?
• Are the association and publication mission statements in concert? Is the publication mission statement or mantra relevant today?
• Does the mission help differentiate your publication from the competition?
• Is the editorial voice and tone defined in writing?
• Can your publication goals serve for the next three years?
• Does the editorial calendar provide content that can function as a leading info source in the association member’s profession?
• Was the last redesign successful in reaching its goals?
• Have the association’s membership goals or the members’ profession remain mostly unchanged since the last evaluation of the look/feel?
• Is your publication supported by a social media campaign?
• Are you satisfied with your reader study results and your analytics?

If you answered mostly yes, then the most pressing reasons to rework a publication aren’t in play for you at this time. But if the issue of redesign is on the table, then this list might be useful for your entire team to review.

If you have answered mostly no, then you are a likely candidate for a redesign. But this is just a preliminary check list. There is still more work to do before taking that step. Try writing a wish list for your publication. After you get past the ‘endless budget’ type of items, you may have some relevant and strategic goals for your publication, then ask yourself: can our goals be achieved with the magazine as it is?

Sometimes, tweaks are all that are needed.

Why tweak? If you decide that your publication does not need a redesign at this time, but you are reexamining your publications goals, you may find yourself with a new or revised positioning which may lead to the need for modifications in your editorial tone and content. This may call for new supporting content which does not fit into the existing brand. Or as a result of any smart, carefully-arrived at new needs, you may decide to make some slight design changes, aka design tweaks, to help you better achieve your publication’s goals.

One of the most compelling reasons to tweak may be technology. You might be adding channels and your new content maps will need to be represented in your publication structure.

How to tweak? Protect the integrity of the overall visual messaging and modify only when there are smart reasons to support changes.

Tweak caution: too many tweaks and you risk damaging the integrity of the visual as well as the editorial tone.

Tweak guide: a simple rule is that each change should be guided by your mission statement and your goals.