Surfing the digital wave can be challenging for magazines. But it can dramatically change how we interact with them. In this piece, we look at how SOFA magazine launched a digital edition with smart content and captivating visuals; and how they used it to deepen ties with their readers.
Digital transformation is on the rise. What does that mean for publishers? Many of them are planning to expand the boundaries of their “print-only” magazines by accelerating web development. That can help keep multi-platform relationships with existing audiences, but also reach new ones.
SOFA Magazine is a perfect example of today’s print-to-digital shift. Founded in 2016 as an interplay of intellectual and social media culture, they spic up their brand with a distinctive indie visual aesthetic. Visual storytelling is at the heart of their print edition, sourced from talk shows to memes, and printed on tabloid paper. Since 2016, they’ve produced four volumes in an edition of 5,000 copies each.
“Our DNA is a digital love story, which is always a great place to start any venture. We met through another project, and — because we live on either side of the Atlantic — we moved our friendship to the internet and have been digital BFFs ever since.” Caia Hagel and Ricarda Messner, founding editors-in-chief
In 2021, SOFA switched its attention to digital platforms. They have taken their time to move online because the team wanted to have a clear vision for what they would be adding. “In a crowded digital world that already suffers from TMI it was important for SOFA that our website felt like entering an alt space of its own in the SOFA Universe.” Caia and Ricarda add.
The first challenge was addressing the financial hurdles of going online. The creators also sought to keep the youth mag aesthetic of the print edition. This was when Studio Yukiko came to the rescue, suggesting Readymag as a no-code design tool. SOFA had a chance to preserve its identity and move things forward, creating a digital edition with interactive fun and even an integrated e-shop.
“From the beginning, SOFA’s visual design was just as important to us as the editorial — because our dream is to reflect the ongoing interplay of intellectual and social media culture in one editorial design.” adds Caia Hagel
The digital shift took half a year with efforts from seven members of their editorial and design team. Thanks to Readymag, the digital issue became a seamless extension of the identity and language already present in the SOFA Universe.
“We’ve always thought of SOFA a bit as cultural therapy and the same goes for its visual storytelling. Our inspiration comes from any kind of daily aesthetic that falls under the umbrella of ‘low-brow’ or ‘cheap aesthetics’; whether its talk shows, internet astrology, email spam, memes or budget supermarket advertising. We still believe in universal storytelling and reaching audiences through the guise of mainstream messaging.” Caia Hagel and Ricarda Messner, founding editors-in-chief
“One of my favorite pieces would be the heart charm from WTF IS YOUR SECRET RN? Graphically, I love the contrast between the presence of this ancient physical object that opens up to reveal digital snippets of confessional messages. Besides that, it really draws me in with its unconventional format and poetic symbolism. It works almost as a gateway to people’s most obscure secrets, and because you can add your own, it transforms into this infinite collective stream of consciousness,” Ricarda Messner adds.
Wonder how all the magic with digital transformation happened? Check the link to learn more.
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