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Colorado Lawyer

Publication redesign, ongoing design, and print to digital transition.
Case Study
Category
Publications
Client
Colorado Bar Association
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THOR has redesigned two flagship publications for the Colorado Bar Association for both print and web.

The Colorado Bar Association hired THOR to breathe new life into their print magazine Colorado Lawyer. Our success allowed them to entrust THOR with their digital redesign. We analyzed, repositioned, and restyled the brand with a sophisticated and cohesive look. We also provided training for the client’s in-house team, so they could take over the process for the long haul.

Building a Bridge

Colorado Lawyer contributors submit their stories as Microsoft Word files emailed back and forth amongst the editorial team. Editors import the submissions into Adobe InDesign layouts to create layouts for print. But editors do not necessarily plan how these will look in an online format. This presents numerous challenges.

THOR’s assessment process of the magazine divided content into “Features, Departments” and “News Items.” Each necessitated custom metadata with architecture splitting them into unique data models. This cross-referencing ensured continuity between the print and digital editions.

Print to Digital

THOR pinpointed early on how a legacy Content Management System held Colorado Lawyer back. It powered the main association site and did not meet the magazine's unique layout. This forced the magazine editors to publish via PDF flip books. These rudimentary services package print magazines into clunky online readers that are inaccessible to many internet users and impossible to read on mobile devices.

To build a solution that worked with Colorado Lawyer's well-established process, we customized a Wordpress installation with unique fields for each type of content.

Unique Digital Features

The Colorado Lawyer team also wanted to go a step further and provide a weekly update of court proceedings for the entire state of Colorado. For this requirement, THOR built a custom sort/filtering interface to handle all 'From the Courts' content. We customized the user interface to give visitors a responsive experience that works across all devices.

Colorado Lawyer required a unique search solution to index their rich content trove. We utilized the excellent SearchWP plugin for the indexing requirement. THOR then layered a custom search experience on top of the index to match the brand. 

Citation Issues

Colorado Lawyer posed a unique challenge given it is a heavily researched publication with numerous citations. Some articles include well over 200 citations marked in the main text. The citation links made inside of Adobe InDesign needed to carry over into our WordPress CMS seamlessly. 

To achieve this goal, THOR restructured the InDesign templates. Each citation created an inline HTML citation within the article. This pointed to the correct resource in the endnotes. In WordPress, we created a custom space for each block of exported citations per article. In the theme, we wrote code to automatically recognize the citations and format them into superscript, in-page links. The resulting article pages move a reader between prose and citations with minimal administrative overhead. 

The Redesign

Our original engagement began with the redesign of the print edition of Colorado Lawyer followed by the initial concept and design of the companion publication The Docket.

 The Colorado Lawyer nameplate was updated to use modern fonts appropriate to the subject matter. We increased the physical dimension of the magazine to give it a premium feel. We featured vibrant reader submitted photos on the cover of each issue. 
 Feature stories follow many of the same typographic styles as the departments in order to maintain familiarity and continuity throughout each issue. Features are differentiated from departments by scale with larger type treatments and opening graphics. 
 All of the departments in Colorado Lawyer were designed with typography as the key element following the goal of readability and timeless style. We supplement articles when possible with attractive artwork, sidebars to expand on key concepts, and pull quotes to guide readers to critical passages. Many of the new sections of the magazine have informative content that is short and quick to read to establish a balance of long-form and short-form pieces.
 Our new nameplate (the logo on the cover of the magazine) employed subtle changes to create a fresh look for Colorado Lawyer. We intentionally dropped the word “the” to reduce the number of elements. We’ve stacked the text to anchor it on the cover, created a dynamic relation by increasing the size of “Colorado,” and have used fonts that are modern and appropriate to the subject. 
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