Posts Tagged ‘Nicole Irving’

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Giggle (www.gigglemag.com)

Issue reviewed: August/September 2010, Vol. 2, Issue 4

  • Published in Gainesville, Fla., by Irving Publications
  • Circulation and pass-alongs: 30,000

Audience

  • women ages 25 to 45
  • residents of Alachua County, Fla.
  • HHI: $50K
  • parents of children under the age of 12
  • principal shoppers in household

Overall Editorial

The tone of the editorial in Giggle is conversational and informative. The features and departments include several lists, timelines, bullets and chunks of copy, so it’s very readable. It’s a blend of local-related “things to do in the area” stories and how-to articles that aren’t specific to the local area.

Overall Design

The design is appropriate for its audience. With a combination of orange, blue, pink and green throughout the magazine, the color palette is youth-oriented and playful. Because almost all the fractional ads are squished together on pages separate from editorial, the designers have creative freedom with each feature and department to take up as much space as they want. I’m not sure how good that is for the advertisers, but it helps the feature pages.

Cover Design and Blurbs

A young lady named Maryn takes up the cover of this edition, and if you don’t fall in love with her on the cover, you will on page 4 when the editors introduce the month’s “cover cutie.” This magazine jumped out at me because the little girl was so cute but also because the name of the magazine was so clever. In one word, “giggle” says all the ideas it wants to convey to readers: happy, kids, cute, family, fun. I’m surprised some national magazine hadn’t already swept up that name. The cover blurbs are OK and appeal to locals, especially fans of the Florida Gators, with “The Doerings family spotlight,” “It’s football season,” and “Family-friendly tailgating.” “For the love of the arts” doesn’t really say anything or make me want to open it up to see what that means; they could have chosen a more actionable blurb for that one.

Editor’s Note

The Letter From The Publisher is written by publisher Nicole Irving. It includes a photo of Irving with one of her children, and the note is a mix of personal relating to the reader and pushing the reader to the inside of the magazine. Overall, it’s well done, but I prefer to see editors/publishers dig deeper and tell a story that makes the reader want to turn the page regardless of what stories are in there; she wants to read the magazine because the editor connects with her and because the reader knows it’s written for her and others like her. The first two paragraphs and the final paragraph of Irving’s letter do establish the connection, but the five paragraphs in between do more of what the contents page should do.

Departments and Columns

Giggle is made up of tons of departments (11, to be exact) and three columns. The first department, Charity of the Month, means well but misses the mark. It looks very much like an advertorial and many readers probably skip right past it. It reads too much like a press release; the only point of view offered is that of the director of the local chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. It doesn’t tell a story about a person who has Cystic Fibrosis or who has been helped by the foundation. It may serve the purpose that the Giggle editors have of highlighting different charities, but it could be far better. Another department that could use work is Why I Love Raising My Family in Gainesville. Unfortunately, it too looks like an advertorial or a paid ad by a family. It has a color background, takes up a half vertical spot, and shares the rest of the spread with ads. The story is OK, but the design of it (and the family’s itty-bitty photo) makes it easily passable by the reader. Other departments are as good as they should be: Giggle Stamp chooses a collection of a certain type of product (this edition featured lunch boxes) and shows photos, provides links and gives a quick review of each product. It is definitely an eye-stopper. And in this issue, For Dads. By Dads. is about dads making football a family affair and teaching kids the rules of the game. This piece is well-designed and smart. The column The Legal Side of Things is informative, but “of Things” is an excessively boring part of the title. I would take it out quickly and without a second thought.

Features

The biggest feature in this issue is For the Love of the Arts. It’s a fun design and has an engaging beginning to the story (“It’s the swipe of a brush .. the sweep of a hand and the swell of a deep-bellied drum.”) The feature has two sidebars, one that’s a schedule of local arts children can participate in and the other that gives parents ideas to create art at home. Another feature, Backpack Safety, is a spread. The story on the left-hand page is from The Nemours Foundation and is intended to help parents pick out backpacks for their kids. Facing it is a cute set-up shot of four kids with backpacks, and the backpacks are used as callouts for descriptions of each. Like the lunch boxes, it’s a clever design that will stop most readers for long enough to read that page. The rest of the features are single-page stories that are how-tos and lists, and they are easy reads.

Use of Photography

The photography on the whole is very good. The designers rely on a lot of stock photography, which many small magazines need to do, understandably. But the original photography is well-planned and well-executed, most notably in the For the Love of the Arts feature, in the uniform policy story and in the products stories (lunch boxes and backpacks). On some other pages, there is either too little photography or the photos are used too small. I would have loved to have seen a photo of Chris Doering from his Gators days, and I would like to have seen a better photo or at least a better-placed photo in the All Kidding Aside column.

Use of Illustrations

Giggle doesn’t have any illustrations in this issue, and I don’t see any story where illustrations would have been better than photography.

Relevance to Intended Audience

I imagine young moms in Alachua County enjoy this magazine thoroughly. It’s a good way to stay connected to their community and also learn good parenting tips and tricks. Features that address specific local issues, like the public school uniform policy, make the content superb for the magazine’s audience.

Integration with Website

The Giggle website is very good. All the articles are archived online, and anyone can download any issue free (including the one that’s the subject of this review). The magazine itself doesn’t direct the reader online much, and that seems like a missed opportunity. The website is a great resource for the calendar of events, recipes, specific article searches and community networking (like a Facebook link to the group page).

Flow, Story Hierarchy

The flow of Giggle is OK, but the feature well is not defined. In fact, departments and columns begin weaving in and out of the feature well by the end of it, and some of the departments and columns are difficult to discern from the single-page features. However, the school-related features were all together, almost like a special section, so it flowed really well there.

Paper Quality

The paper quality was good. The paper is strong with a semigloss finish. The magazine is saddle-stitch, and it feels thick even though it’s only 62 pages.

Overall Opinion

I give Giggle a B for relevant content, good photography and informative features. I see room for improvement in the ad placement, the copy flow on pages (a few spacing issues), and a couple of weak departments.

Did you agree or disagree with anything I said? Please comment. I’d love to hear from you!

–Tyler Reed

Editor, The Sidebar Review

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