WITHIN THE FAMILY
Take a Good Thing and Make It Better
By Alex Sachare '71
If we followed the bromide, “If it ain’t broke, don’t
fix it,” I’d have ridden to work this morning in a horse
and buggy, climbed eight flights of stairs to my office, lit some
candles so I could see and dipped a quill in an inkwell to begin
Now, there’s nothing wrong with any of those things. Each
served its purpose admirably. But that doesn’t mean they can’t
be — or haven’t been — improved upon, often several
times over. Pen and ink gave way to typewriter, which led to electric
typewriter, then along came the word processor and finally the computer.
Something that works, and works well, can be made to work even better
with some creative thinking, analysis and well-planned changes.
With this issue, we launch a redesign of Columbia College Today
that includes a new logo, unifying graphic elements for departments,
a revised color palette, and different folio treatments, among other
We regularly make editorial changes and refinements, altering the
mix of news and features and introducing new elements, such as the
cryptogram on the inside back cover of this issue and the other
games and puzzles that have appeared in recent issues. The changes
we are talking about now focus on design.
Six years ago, we moved CCT from a black-and-white magazine
to one that is color throughout. This allowed us to better illustrate
our feature stories and give you a more vivid look at what is taking
place on campus and at alumni events. Since then, we have tinkered
with some sections of the magazine — we gave Bookshelf a more
vibrant look, for example, by expanding the writeup of the book
featured each month and showing the cover jackets of several other
books in color — but this is the first time we have stepped
back, examined what had become a staid design and made changes to
refresh the magazine’s overall look.
These changes are meant to be subtle; the idea is to bring you
the content you enjoy and have come to expect, but in a more attractive
format that should enhance your overall reading experience. For
example, we use large photographs to open Around the Quads and Class
Notes in this issue and expect to use similar photos, current and
archival, in future issues.
It’s more than repackaging — the “same cereal,
new box” concept that is so popular with food marketers. In
that case, the product is the cereal, not the box. Once opened,
the box is only good as a storage container, or perhaps as reading
matter at the breakfast table. A magazine is a careful blend of
text and graphics, where typeface, layout, photography, design and
print quality all play a part in the final product. None can make
up for weak, poorly illustrated stories; but when done right, each
of those elements enhances the overall experience.
These design changes are a work in progress. We’re trying
out a number of things that we believe will make CCT a
more attractive magazine and more enjoyable for you, the reader.
If you agree, great, please let us know. If you disagree, please
let us know as well. We expect to do significant “tweaking,”
to use one of design consultant J.C. Suarès’ favorite
words, throughout the next several issues, and we value your input.