The University of British Columbia*
UBC Public Affairs Office
Redesign of UBC Reports
By the time I arrived at UBC, there were few remaining large, institutional print projects. One of these was UBC Reports. Published monthly by UBC Public Affairs, UBC Reports served 50,000 members of the UBC Community with the solid journalism and world-class stories that readers had come to expect from the Public Affairs Office. A UBC flagship publication, its dedicated resources for writing, design, production, printing and distribution reflected the university‘s ongoing commitment to sharing research stories.
Despite its success, UBC Reports was a print publication in an increasingly digital landscape. It was a transitional time. Print was being phased out across the university but digital delivery systems for the media were still in their infancy. With a projected timeline of over two years for a digital media launch, and the advent of a new university branding initiative, there was good reason to rethink the format of UBC Reports.
The design refresh brought a contemporary face to UBC Reports with a new masthead and nameplate, a 16-page stitched format, handsome typography, a cleaner layout with more white space and unified ads, along with improved sustainability metrics. With a view towards harnessing the power of University Photographer Martin Dee’s remarkable images, the redesign featured large photographs of the individuals who make UBC a globally respected university. “Martin Dee’s photographs are the UBC Brand” was common praise from faculty and staff for whom Martin’s photographs had become the de facto face of UBC for over 25 years.
The transition from print to online media delivery took time. The print redesign was supported by an increased digital presence through web spotlights and promotional ads on campus digital signage. Print versions of UBC Reports, The Next Big Thing and UBC in the Headlines were phased out as daily and weekly online editions replaced them in a series of exploratory iterations. Once the tools were ready, digital delivery transitioned to UBC News online, social media and the UBC Experts Guide.
* A Note from Arlene
This project was created during my five years as Design Manager for UBC Communications and Marketing (previously Public Affairs). During that time we pioneered and developed a series of design systems (and programs) that built a solid foundation for a unified UBC Brand. This project was designed in collaboration with my colleague Ping Ki Chan, another systems thinker. Once the initial format was established, the monthly project was shared among designers on the Public Affairs design team. Each designer brought their individual style to the template.
Photograph portrait shown on the cover and inside spread of UBC Reports by Martin Dee | UBC © 2017