The art of a modern magazine redesign

Modus magazine celebrates the 150th anniversary of RICS with a relaunch that focuses on physical, tactile value; a slow read in an exhaustingly fast world

Oliver ParsonsEditor

Professional membership publications have a long history – much longer than that of contract publishing, and certainly that of content marketing. Modus, the magazine we publish for members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), exemplifies this more than most.

There has been a publication of some kind, tasked with propagating best practice and inspiring members from its very earliest days. When the Institution consisted of a couple of hundred Victorian gentlemen, this took the form of Transactions: documents detailing presentations made to, and discussions between, surveyors on important professional issues of the day.

The design was a straightforward matter, and distribution was simpler still: come along to the Institution’s library at Parliament Square and peruse as you please.

Scroll forward 150 years, and a lot has changed. RICS is now the world’s largest professional body covering land, real estate, construction and infrastructure, with more than 120,000 members worldwide.

Rightly, the publication for RICS members is now just one part of a constellation of other communications, online and offline. But it does play a unique role: projecting the best of the profession while also offering a physical, tangible touch-point for members.

So when we formulated a plan to mark the June 2018 edition – precisely 150 years since the Institutions founding in June 1868 – with a complete relaunch of Modus, that physical nature of the job was very much on our mind.

We wanted to create something that above all else felt valuable and meaningful – not just another mobile notification seeking the potential reader’s attention.

So, instead of following the decades-long trend of more-and-more, faster-and-faster, we’ve simplified things, and moved toward longer, slower and more rewarding reads. Regular elements are fewer in number, but longer, and more in-depth, leaving the news-driven approach for online channels.

And the design is now much simpler, with fewer but perfectly balanced elements that allow the top-class commissioned photography and illustration room to breathe, while making it easy and enjoyable to read long-form stories.

Finally, a new, stouter and less expected size, along with a carefully selected uncoated paper stock gives the new magazine a much more tactile feel. This is a publication that is subtly and gently saying to the reader: ‘take your time, and enjoy’.

It’s something to be valued, carefully browsed and kept for some time. When was the last time you thought that about a website?