Customer spotlight: HistoryNet

HistoryNet is the publisher of nine venerable history-themed magazines and the HistoryNet.com website. Find out how Hightail is helping the company redesign all nine of its magazines.

A collection of nine magazines

HistoryNet produces special interest publications aimed to appeal to readers of specific historical interests. They are: American History, America’s Civil War, Aviation History, Civil War Times, Military History, MHQ: the Quarterly Journal of Military History, Vietnam, Wild West and World War II. While primarily subscriber driven, the company also derives significant revenue from newsstand sales.

When Weider History Group was sold to LA-based investors, Regent Equity, in addition to rebranding the company as HistoryNet, the new owners brought in a Los Angeles-based creative director to overhaul the visual style of all its titles.

A new creative direction

With the editorial and production team based in Leesburg, VA, art director, Brian Walker, became the main contact for helping the creative director implement his vision. As well as being the creative director’s eyes and ears on the ground and ensuring all the other art directors understand what he wants, Walker also works as the art director on Military History.

All the magazines are bi-monthly except the quarterly journal, MHQ, meaning the design team create a lot of layouts. There are typically five or six features in each magazine, which can be 6-10 pages long, along with 10-12 pages of recurring departments for each title.

How Hightail helps

Every layout file is shared with the creative director in LA using Hightail. The images are crisp and color accurate versions of the pages, can be downloaded and everyone on the team can leave comments. Previously, PDFs of the layouts were shared by email and it was difficult to track all the comments and time-consuming to sort through emails to go back and find a comment.

This was no longer feasible for the HistoryNet design team, especially when they were collecting feedback from a large number of people. In Hightail, the comments are all in one place. Tracking the history of changes is easy, as all the relevant feedback is right there on each layout.

Covers conversations

Magazine covers are critical to newsstand sales, so the HistoryNet teams usually have a lot of back-and-forth conversations about the image to use, crop, color of type, sizing, etc. When Wild West decided to put Billy the Kid on the cover, they posted a variety of illustrations, paintings and stock photography to a Space and used the comments to reach a decision on the final cover image. Even the copy gets picked apart on Hightail. When final cover designs are uploaded, the editorial team runs a fine-tooth comb over each headline.

Open to everyone

Usually the editor and art director of a title, plus the managing editor, creative director and the publisher leave feedback on specific layouts. However, with each Space open to everybody, many others can see layouts and weigh in, which is especially useful for the art directors and editors. HistoryNet’s CEO even keeps in the loop using Spaces, so he can track the progress of the redesign project and leave his comments.

Each Space is like a mini-forum that brings everyone and their opinions together. Not only is it a seamless and easy way to share visuals, everyone can comment in a single spot, so someone doesn’t have to manage all that feedback. It also creates a digital paper trail that can be referred back to later, unlike with a conference call or in-person meeting.

Visual versions

The design team uses Hightail’s visual versions feature to replace old files. Though they may upload numerous versions of a layout to a Space, everyone always sees the most recent version first. They can still go back and look at previous versions and past commentary to find out why something changed or who suggested an idea, creating an instantly accessible electronic paper trail.

A critical part of the process

HistoryNet used to work as one team under the same roof in their Leesburg office. When the way they worked changed with the addition of the LA-based creative director and publishers, Hightail has proved to be a much-needed solution. Instead of wasting time attempting creative collaboration via conferences calls and email, Hightail, with its crisp visuals and tools for real-time exchange of ideas and comments, has helped HistoryNet implement a new creative direction seamlessly.

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That's how magazine publisher, HistoryNet, transformed its creative collaboration process. To find out how Hightail can help your business, click the links below.

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