So you see, we tread lightly when it comes to tinkering. But the impetus for the overhaul was simple. PEOPLE started as a black-and-white magazine in 1974 and switched gradually to full-color photographs in the early '90s. "PEOPLE was born in black-and-white, and when we went to color we did it in small ways," says art director John Shecut. "We didn't want to shock people." The design we're unveiling in this issue won't shock you either; it simply brings PEOPLE up to date by making better use of color in all areas.
"The goal was to make the magazine clearer and more reader-friendly," says David Hillman, an award-winning designer who is a partner in Pentagram Design, a London-based graphics firm. Hillman and his assistant, Anna-Lisa Schönecker, oversaw the yearlong project, working with our art department to put every detail in place before bringing it to you.
Some of the changes are striking: For example, we've color-coded Picks & Pans and have added our new Bottom Line opinions to every review throughout the section. Other changes are more subtle: We've made our Star Tracks pictures bigger for more impact and we've simplified our Contents page to make it easier for you to find your favorite sections. But we haven't stopped there: We've added a section called Scoop, which begins on page 14 and serves up short news nuggets about life, liberty and the pursuit of the three-picture deal.
A good redesign, however, should draw attention to stories, not to itself. Rest assured that although we have brightened the package, the contents inside have not changed at all. The soul of PEOPLE is still about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. When we showed advance copies to a focus group of readers, they responded with one clear message: "Love the way it looks. But don't change the stories you write." We haven't, and we won't.
And please let us know what you think.