Health magazine design as a separate genre is a relatively recent phenomenon. New health magazines debut routinely, looking to maximize the readership potential of the national obsession with health and fitness. Most are gender specific, with typography and layouts reflecting the bias. Not surprisingly, those targeting women use design conventions borrowed from the beauty and fashion industries. Men’s health magazines tend to go for a macho look, using bold type and graphics that suggest virility and strength. But there are exceptions.
Typically, spreads are complex mixes of short text blocks and infographics, with lots of photos of beautiful people being active. Some health magazines continue in that vein throughout. Others also have article sections in which simple text pages contrast with striking full page photos. There is no one traditional look, and only passing references to formulaic design solutions. Health magazine design is a great opportunity to step outside of the box and invent.
Art director’s notes: General health magazines are seen mostly on the national level. They cover only health and medical issues that affect many, or topics that are in the public eye for some reason. On the regional level there are fewer people, so often there isn’t enough readership to support a separate health publication. For that reason, health magazines published on the regional and local level often appear as a special issue or section of a larger publication, rather than as standalone publications.
Local area medical professionals and hospitals may provide financial support to these publication through their advertising buys. That may mean stories about them, in turn, are featured as part of the magazine’s content. Whether that happens or not, the content will reflect medical practices in the area, and may not be inclusive. But it’s still an effective way for readers to learn more about their local healthcare options and practitioners.