5 Key Factors in Exceptional Cover Design

It all starts with a good idea.

That’s the key to creating a cover design that has serious newsstand chops, according to Luke O’Neill in Creative Bloq.

“Designing a successful magazine cover is tricky at the best of times but when you’re a consumer magazine trying to vie for attention on a packed newsstand then it’s of the utmost importance that your cover works as hard as it possibly can to stand out,” he writes.

“Having a good concept or idea is key to the success of any cover design. It’ll unify the cover as whole, feel like an event and grab the attention of the casual browser on the newsstand,” O’Neill continues.

Next, determine your focal point.

“This can be anything from a face with strong eye contact or a bold typographic treatment, but it’s important that the main focus is in the top third of the cover due to the way that magazines are racked,” he advises.

With a good idea and a strong focal point, it’s time to create a hierarchy of all your elements.

“In terms of placement there are ‘hot’ areas on a cover where key information should sit if you want to draw attention to it. Top third for main coverlines, plus top right or directly under logo for key secondary lines. A ‘flash’ or circle will catch the eye and denote value on a cover, so use these devices to sell key content,” he notes.

Fourth, choose a strong typographic treatment.

“The typographic treatment on a cover is a large part of what will give a magazine its unified aesthetic and most magazines will have a set of fonts that they use within the magazine and then a handful within that set that they regularly use on the cover,” O’Neill notes.

Finally, bump up the wow factor.

“Every successful cover has a certain something that sets it off and as a designer it’s that something that we’re always searching for. It could be any number of things from a minimal but clever use of negative space to an eye-catching image and type treatment,” he notes.

We cover a lot of good cover design in the content we share. It’s vitally important to a magazine’s success. If you’re new to the field or looking to up your game, O’Neill’s fives factors are a good place to start.