Yesterday was a big day I’ve been waiting for for awhile now: the official launch of a new travel/lifestyle e-magazine called Wayfare that I’ve been so lucky to a part of. Dive right in, or read on for a bit more background on how this came to be and who exactly we are (from my perspective).
Back in early fall Erica Dublin, editor-in-chief and co-founder of the magazine (alongside Josephine Courant), contacted me, knowing my background in design, travel and blogging, about being part of a new online publication that brought travel into the forefront with fresh eyes. We all felt like it was an untapped niche, or rather one that could use a new twist: lifestyle and good design. In the process we wanted to create a new platform for bloggers to share their work (we don’t feel people read blogs the same way they did even a year ago). As we looked more at the project and all we wanted to do, I knew it’d be a large undertaking, and was craving a new collaboration, so I pulled in Lauren O’Neill, a graphic designer based in northern Virginia. It’s funny now to think we first met on twitter, I featured her on Boarding Pass, we met for coffee once on a trip home, and I knew she’d be the perfect person to help out on this project. So with me in Paris, Lauren in Virginia as my co Art Director, and Erica, Josephine and Eliza Sarasohn in San Francisco, we did something very few people attempt – we put together a publication almost completely virtually and thanks to the power of the internet (and Skype!).
At one point I realized the magazine felt a lot like my thesis in a new form, so I’ll break down some of the highlights according to these four themes from my thesis:
- The Quest for Experience
- The Desirable Place
- Digital Dialogue
- The Entrepreneurial Persona
1. The Quest for Experience
With companies like Airbnb and Vayable these days, experience seems to be a central player in what is often referred to as “the sharing economy.” People are searching for human contact beyond what is written in a guidebook. Blogs are one way that content takes on more of a voice, because the author is more accessible. We also wanted to see how we could change this experience, where their work is not just shared in the form of a blog post, but inside a “magazine” all while making travel more accessible, and approachable. In front of your computer we hope it provides a welcome escape, or download the version for iPad and read it on any tablet device (more interactive versions to come) while you’re on the go.
Many of the current online magazines attempt to take a print magazine and put it on the web. Pages are filled will too much information or text that is too small and hard on the eye. Even turning pages are mimicked online, but why does an online magazine have to attempt to replicate what’s already being done? We wanted to re-think what an online magazine is and how it works and try to push it in a new direction. We used the iPad as inspiration for the format and interactivity. We no longer saw the need to design spreads, but rather thought of each “page” as a screen. The original version of the magazine had a lot more interactive elements and features to “play” with, but in the 11th hour we made a change to make sure the content stayed accessible for everyone. Don’t worry, we’re working towards publishing to tablet devices in the near future, so you have that level of “experience” to look forward to too. In the meantime, check out our “field guide” in the opening of the magazine for some of our special features.
Another thing I’ve noticed lately is that particularly with design blogs they feel covered with products these days and less and less often is there a story behind it (or the creator). We’re hoping to bring something more meaningful, with several layers of information that grow and are enhanced over time. Everything in the magazine is linkable and credited by name (not just the word “via” or a number that is hyperlinked). We want the magazine to be a showcase for people, places, and even products to be celebrated beyond face value, for a richer experience.
2. The Desirable Place
What I found in my thesis was there was a shift from tourism advertising from beautiful landscapes to publicity and projects that now showcased people, interaction (with a local) and engagement. Now people are just as important to creating a desirable place, if not more so. Our entire team represents different perspectives, but we all crave making the most of a place through a local perspective. In this respect, we’re interested too in the way that we as travelers contribute to the way we see and record a place.
Once again with people at the center of “place” we wanted to create a community that supports and celebrates our contributors. With Pinterest in the news there is a lot of issue of artists’ work spreading without being credited. We think the contributors on our team have done amazing work and we want to celebrate them as much as possible, give them full credit and all their names are clickable. We hope if you like something you’ll go explore and learn more about the person behind it; maybe even contact them. This is all part of the new, more “interactive” experience as well which is a blend of online and off-line worlds.
3. The Digital Dialogue
Blogs added a mechanism for conversation through comments further increasing the 2-way mode of communication and the encouragement of dialogue. Often these conversations are continued through Twitter or Facebook as well. We wanted to create a magazine, that is not something you read and put away; rather something that you want to keep going back to and engaging with in new ways. As I mentioned earlier, the ways in which people read blogs has changed (do you read blogs the same these days?). Our blog works to speak directly to the content in the magazine, but rather than repeating information, we’re adding extras like extended interviews and recipes, as well as out-takes and extra images we loved from photo shoots to help give more insight into the articles and the people behind them. So many magazines forget to edit, and feel like a lot of a same on repeat. We hope we can be both well edited and well curated. Ultimately, we hope the magazine gets friends and families talking and planning their next adventure, and that they feel inspired to share their story. And while some may be skeptical, I also think a publication like this has a ton of potential to do interesting things with advertisers in new and exciting ways.
4. The Entrepreneurial Persona
It still amazes me that I got to be a part of this incredible project thanks to the fact that I have a blog. For me it’s a sign that if you’re someone doing interesting things, people will find you. In a way, that’s how we scouted a lot of our content for the first issue: unique storytelling through online photo-essays on Pictory, Jordan and Paul Ferney as a blogger and painter moved who moved their family to Paris and which has inspired their work, the way Emily Richmond could raise money on Kickstarter to fund her around-the-world adventure in a sailboat, or the Carlson family, a family from the mid-west, moved to Burundi, Africa with a passion for coffee and to help local farmers earn a living wage (all while doing an amazing job recording their experiences on their blog). Creativity can come in many forms. In a rough economy, I think people and projects like these are the way of the future. Additionally, they are all great storytellers and have a story worthy of telling. We did our best to share their stories, but hope you will continue to explore and engage deeper with those pieces that struck a cord with you. Now, go see for yourself.
So there you have it, what has turned into my manifesto of the current state of travel and online magazines. I’d love to hear any and all feedback: what pulled you in most, what you’d like to see more/less of… any thoughts. I’m especially eager to hear from people who are not necessarily in the design, travel or blogging world. We’d love to keep pushing this publication to be the best it can be. I’m already blown away what we’ve done with a team of 5 of us part time + amazingly talented contributors.
Enjoy our PILOT issue online now at wayfaremag.com (click here for the direct link inside the magazine). There’s more daily on our blog, and you can find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. We’re still fresh off the launch, so stay tuned for more to come!
UPDATE: I only worked on the pilot edition of Wayfare.