Before discussing what Devkit Magazine is and what makes it special, it’s worth asking a bigger question: ‘Does the world really need another design magazine?’ We think the answer is yes but we’ll let you decide.
Historically, design magazines emerged at a point in time when information was scarce. Thus, unsurprisingly, their key role was the creation and delivery of information. Fast forward to 2017 and scarcity has been replaced by abundance.
The problem of finding information per se, has become a problem of identifying tiny slices of relevant information in a forest of irrelevant content. Sadly, many design magazines retain their original role, acting as conveyor belts for cut-and paste duplicates of press releases, datasheets and white papers, managed by editors will little or no practical experience in the subjects covered.
This publishing model represented the successful gold standard in the twilight years between information scarcity and abundance. However, changes in information technology and audience behaviour are driving its extinction.
For example, search engine and social media algorithms are creating ‘filter bubbles’ which trap, rather than expand, designers’ minds. Here are some simple examples:
- What if the information you seek resides on a niche website pushed out of sight by inferior competitors with bigger SEO budgets?
- What if the information you seek is hosted on a non-responsive website, yet you are searching on a mobile device?
- What if the information you seek was written by an author who is not part of your social network?
At Devkit we see a different future, where a magazine’s role is information curation, investigation, organisation and formatting. What do we mean by this? Imagine the managing editor understands their readers’ needs; has practical, hands-on experience in the subject; and works to the following guidelines:
- Authorises publication based on relevance and usefulness (curation)
- Challenges claims; seeks answers and fills information gaps (investigation)
- Presents content in styles that meet the information gathering habits of their audience (organisation)
- Delivers content in formats which suit their audience’s learning styles (formatting)
So, yes, the world does need another design magazine. More than that, it needs a different magazine.
What makes Devkit Magazine special?
Make and write:
If Devkit Magazine’s tag line is ‘Helping bring product idea to life’ what better way to hold true to that goal than actually designing and manufacturing products and documenting the process so other designers can learn from our successes and failures. Join our us in the DevLab as we work our way through the step-by-step process of commercialising new product ideas.
Have you ever asked why product news stories are typically 150 to 250-word narratives? We have, many times. The reality is no one knows. Our best guess is that using a 12-point typeface, plus one image, you can fit two articles opposite a half-page advertisement on an A4 printed page. Hardly a scientific method of conveying digital content in an information abundant world.
Instead, Devkit Magazine has decided to publish its product news as spreadsheets: yes spreadsheets. Each row is an article and each column is an information category. The key benefits are:
• Structuring the information brings order to otherwise un-ordered content
• Limited size of each cell forces a concise writing style
• Column filters allows rapid searches and comparisons
• Location of specific information is clear and familiar
• Benefits of new products are quickly identified and understood
• Information gaps become obvious
We call it ‘structured news’. From a design perspective, think of it as parametric search for news.
Also, structured news isn’t just easier to read, it’s also easier to write. One quick glance of a news spreadsheet lets authors and contributors know exactly what questions need answering. Thanks to this structured writing technique we believe Devkit Magazine will become an exclusive source of content that would otherwise never be written.
Video product reviews:
Look at any online statistics and there is little doubt that video-based product demonstrations grasp and retain an audience’s attention like no other format. Yet, recent research by Devkit Magazine reveals that most product manufacturers shy away from video reviews. We think we know why.
To date, product videos tend to fall into two categories: professional v wobble cam.
Professional: Most product manufacturers lack the hardware, software, skills and experience to produce professional, broadcast quality videos in-house. To underpin their brand values, most manufacturers outsource to professional video production companies. Studio time, scripts, actors, voice overs, directors, sound engineers, cutaways, post production editing and more: costs soon mount up. Thus, manufacturers cherry pick a limited number of products to video, if any.
Wobble cam: Alternatively, manufacturers abandon control to grassroots vloggers. These range in quality, but too often involve a kitchen table, chest mounted action camera and unboxing process. Don’t to too surprised if the family cat walks past.
Devkit Magazine believes there is an alternative solution, midway between these two extremes. With its lab doubling as the studio, the Devkit team combines its product design experience and editorial skills to produce professional grade review videos without the typical time and cost penalties.