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The Story Behind Our New Look

By Stephanie Russell
Fall 2018
5 Responses

Welcome to the new Northwestern Magazine

Our goal for the redesign was to reflect the unique spirit and attributes of Northwestern and its community of faculty, students and alumni in a more flexible and engaging format. And, of course, we wanted to continue to be a strong storytelling venue where we explore issues, people and themes in depth through first-rate journalism.

It’s been eight years since our last redesign, so the magazine was due for a makeover.

Stephanie Russell, executive editor of Northwestern Magazine.

Stephanie Russell, executive editor of Northwestern Magazine. Illustration by Anje Jager

We admit it — the old layout was text heavy, and there wasn’t a lot of white space, much to the dismay of our designer. So we knew we needed more than a visual redesign: It was time to rethink and retool the editorial content as well.

We think the new design delivers all that we asked for — and we hope you agree. Our thanks to Pentagram’s design team in New York City for helping us create such a vibrant, elegant and classy new look for Northwestern Magazine and our online site.

In the front of the magazine you’ll find more visuals — photo spreads, illustrations, large images — and lists and shorter news stories. We’ve added Voices, a collection of first-person essays (including My Northwestern Direction), Q&As, a social feed and quotes from faculty, students and alumni. The News section includes a ticker and a map that spotlights what some of our Wildcats are up to around the globe. Discovery and Innovation highlight faculty research and some of the exciting student entrepreneurial projects that are underway on campus. 

What you’ll also find in the front section of the magazine is that campus news items aren’t just about faculty and students. Increasingly, alumni are collaborating with students and faculty on interdisciplinary projects across the University, for example, at The Garage, Northwestern’s hub for student entrepreneurship and innovation, where many alumni serve as mentors. 

The Alumni section now opens with Creation, a collection of noteworthy accomplishments by our graduates. Back Story, on the last page of the magazine, features an interview with alumni who have an intriguing tale about how they ended up in their career — and how their Northwestern education helped them get there.

The magazine is still all about telling the stories of Northwestern alumni, students and faculty and their impact on their community — and the world. These Northwestern people inspire us with their creativity, insights, innovative thinking, research and dedication.

We are also launching a new website: Many of you access the magazine website from your mobile devices, so we think you’ll be delighted to visit our new site and discover photography and design innovations that deliver a clean and simple online reading experience. It’s a mobile-friendly, contemporary website that allows us to showcase long-form feature stories and short news items from the print magazine, along with the latest University news and exclusive online content. 

We’re also amping up our social media presence to keep you connected. And we want to hear from you. If a story touches you, post it and tag us. If you have an Insta-worthy memory or moment of #purplepride, tag @Northwesternmagazine. If you get promoted, tweet the news with #ClassNotesNU. And follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Beginning with this issue, we’ll publish the magazine three times a year. So you can expect a fall, winter and spring issue to arrive in your mailbox. And you can download a PDF of the print magazine from our website.

In an alumni survey conducted last year, respondents said that Northwestern Magazine
was their primary source of information about the University. We thank you for your support and loyal readership and, most of all, for letting us engage with you.

Many of the stories in this launch issue have a recurring theme — that the connections people make as Northwestern students, with fellow classmates and professors, continue to have an impact on their lives and careers. These Northwestern connections have indeed changed lives, guided and redirected career paths, and fostered lifelong friendships and relationships. We hope that Northwestern Magazine helps you stay connected to the University and your fellow Wildcats wherever you go in the world. 

Let us know how you like the magazine’s new look. And by all means, keep in touch.


Stephanie Russell
Executive Editor

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Reader Responses

  • Kudos to all of you! Change is good. I LOVE Northwestern Magazine’s design makeover. So sleek and easy to read. Vivid pictures and excellent articles. I’m on vacation now and just finished reading the magazine cover to cover. It makes me proud to say, “I’m an NU alum.”

    Renee Pearl Sigler ’85 Montreal, via Northwestern Magazine

  • I love the redesign of Northwestern Magazine. In fact, when it arrived, I thought it was the Atlantic, one of my favorite magazines.

    Elizabeth Canning Blackwell ’90 Glenview, Ill., via Northwestern Magazine

  • The new format of Northwestern Magazine reminds me of the old joke about Time and Life magazines. Time was for people who couldn’t think, and Life was for people who couldn’t read. In fact, this issue was more like Sesame Street, flitting from topic to topic in an attempt to entertain people with short attention spans. I am ashamed to have it represent our intelligent Northwestern community. We deserve better.

    Margaret Weatherly Hall ’63 Prairie Village, Kan., via Northwestern Magazine

  • “The old layout was text heavy, and there wasn’t a lot of white space … .” This from one of the premier universities in the nation? Is this what you promise your students — not too much text to bother reading but lots of photos and white space? You want my donations for this vision?

    Bob Basofin ’68 MS, Palatine, Ill.

  • At 80 I am resigned to the scattering of my ashes. I am not resigned to having my memory placed in a jumble of small print in your In Memoriam [Alumni, fall 2018, page 74]. The old format was better. Probably more costly, but better.

    Philip Cheney III ’68 Asheville, N.C., via Northwestern Magazine

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