Using Print Aesthetics to Rev Up Digital Engagement … the Retromotive Story

Classic cars, people and their stories … that’s the editorial mandate of Retromotive magazine, produced and designed by photographer Nathan Duff. The reader-supported title was recently named a finalist in the prestigious Mumbrella awards, thanks to its elegant and uncluttered design aesthetic.

“The magazine’s clean, uncluttered layout aims to strip everything back to reveal an intimate journey through beautiful imagery and engaging stories,” writes Lyndsie Clark in Niche Publishers.

Duff was committed to carrying that print aesthetic through to his new digital platform for the brand, designed to “complement the quarterly print edition by providing an elegant design and clean user experience for the magazine’s audience,” Clark continues.

“I kept going back and forth with the developers because I didn’t want to launch until it was a proper user experience,” Duff explains. “Particularly with the classic car guys, which is generally an older generation, you’ve only got one chance – if people come and click on links, and they don’t work – they’re not going to come back.”

Ease of navigation and a faithful reflection of the printed brand were critical to Duff, along with a simpler and more sophisticated payment gateway. In doing that piece of the work, he modeled his pricing around the trend toward micro-subscriptions — pay a little bit each month and renew as you go, rather than making a year-long commitment upfront.  (Similar to Hearst and their “chicken nugget” pricing, with the understanding that we are all subscribers now.)

For print publishers looking for a way to move gracefully into a digital extension, Duff sets a great example. While he’s been careful to “hero” the print magazine as the biggest selling point, he realizes different membership levels —with different levels of content and access — offer his audience additional content without undermining the value of the quarterly title.

“Structuring the content between the print and digital editions in this way means that Duff can easily run reprints of the print editions, which are seen as evergreen, collector’s editions,” Clark notes, a nod to Duff’s willingness to explore new revenue options for his reader-supported content without undercutting his magazine revenue.

“I haven’t gone as far yet as indicating in the print magazine that there’s additional content online, because like I said, I really want to keep trying to make an effort to sort of keep those separate, and just encourage people to go online and explore a little bit,” Duff said.

Given the gorgeous screenshots of both the printed and digital content, he’s achieving exactly that. If you’re a classic car buff or have one on your gift list, Retromotive is worth checking out.