THE PROJECT

How does a 111-year old magazine build a digital following and stay true to its print subscribers? That was the challenge The Progressive, a nonprofit media outlet founded in 1909, brought to 501c Design in 2014. Could The Progressive’s website, which publishes multiple stories daily integrate with the bimonthly print magazine that features investigative reporting, analysis, stories of activism, and interviews?

Kerstin came on as The Progressive’s art director and immediately knew that the website and the magazine needed a unifying design overhaul, which would allow divergent audiences to cross over from one platform to the next. First, she re-designed the website and worked hand-in-hand with a company that specializes in platforms for small publications, which made managing all that content – many new stories everyday! – a breeze. Next, Kerstin created an updated and distinct look for the magazine, while keeping in mind a reading audience who would prefer larger fonts and less clutter.

Since then, with an ever-shrinking budget, Kerstin has managed to keep the print magazine relevant and meaningful while simultaneously expanding the website’s audience. She redesigned the website again in 2021 to keep up with trends in online journalism. Years later, magazine subscriptions are holding steady with a 25K circulation rate

Kerstin is solely responsible for design, layout, and production of each issue of the magazine. She also manages overall creative direction for The Progressive, which includes designing all of its marketing collateral, direct mail, circulation materials, and event graphics. 

CLIENT

Progressive

PROJECT SCOPE

Art direction, magazine design and production, website design, direct mail, print collateral.

TAKE AWAYS
  • One look, many audiences – yes, it is possible! But with tweaks such as larger fonts for readers who are likely to need it. 
  • Magazines can still be relevant in our digital world! With cover art that is striking — on the newsstand and online. 
  • Distinctive graphic design and art can bring together different formats and audiences. 
  • A single art director with an overview of the entire project = maximizing shrinking budgets.
  • Designing a simple and clean website must also pair with a platform that’s easy for multiple staff to update.

Moving a 100+ Year-old Magazine into the 21st Century

Since The Progressive’s magazine readership skews to a senior audience, Kerstin designs each issue with larger, easier to read typography, more white space to allow the eye to rest, and large pullouts to break up big copy blocks. The Progressive’s website readers are seasoned digital consumers, so the graphics are bold and modern. Both the magazine and website use some of the same graphic elements to recall each audience to both formats. Plus, there’s direct mail and marketing collateral which are geared to turning members of The Progressive into subscribers. As on-demand art director, Kerstin acts as the creative overseer, to ensure that all of the organization’s visual output is unified. 

Need an on-call or part-time art director? Let 501c Design help you unify your print and digital materials for the 21st century without adding to your overhead costs. 

“As art director of The Progressive since 2015, Kerstin Vogdes Diehn has demonstrated not just great competence but great sensibility, uniting the magazine’s message with its look. Her instincts are sound and her knowledge of the field of illustration vast, yet she works collaboratively, engaging in the back-and-forth that is necessary to achieve high quality, while finding creative ways to work within our severe budgetary constraints. Our debt to her grows with each and every issue.”

– Bill Lueders, Editor-in-Chief, The Progressive