Reinventing Forbes

by Lewis DVorkin and Forbes, Inc.

This chapter is a free excerpt from The Forbes Model For Journalism In The Digital Age.

Just ten days into my new job here, Tim Forbes laid a little surprise on me: “Take a look at the magazine,” he said. “Now? I replied rather incredulously, already knee-deep into re-thinking Forbes.com.” “Yep, now,” Tim said with a bit of mischief in his smile.

So I did, and with that my 25 years as a newspaper and magazine editor came rushing back – with one huge difference. I looked at a magazine through the prism of the Web. Design had a new meaning to me. So did stories. So did staffing. So did everything about making a print product.

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Just ten days into my new job here, Tim Forbes laid a little surprise on me: “Take a look at the magazine,” he said. “Now? I replied rather incredulously, already knee-deep into re-thinking Forbes.com.” “Yep, now,” Tim said with a bit of mischief in his smile.

So I did, and with that my 25 years as a newspaper and magazine editor came rushing back – with one huge difference. I looked at a magazine through the prism of the Web. Design had a new meaning to me. So did stories. So did staffing. So did everything about making a print product.

The simultaneous challenge of radically rebuilding Forbes.com influenced nearly every decision about the magazine – and in ways I would have never imagined. To reimagine Forbes, we set our sights on five core areas:
  1. Honing our editorial voice
  2. Simplifying the magazine’s design and flow
  3. Reshaping our cover philosophy (no more concept covers, please)
  4. Refreshing the model to both create and edit content
  5. Thinking through the related digital expressions, particularly for our popular lists
We put a strategic layer above it all: to open up our print platform so readers could participate in more meaningful ways, and marketers could form relationships with both the audience and with thought leaders by producing content themselves that is contextually integrated throughout the magazine.

Many smart people engaged in this effort, including the team at Athletics, a UI and design studio. “So often the media inundates the reader with a mess of visual language that must be digested and deciphered,” explained Matt Owens, a senior partner at Athletics. “Our idea for Forbes was a visual identity that gets out of the way, that strips away complexity to get to the point.”

That’s exactly what we set out to do – create a no-nonsense design with a simple architecture for an audience that wants quality content delivered efficiently.
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