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We worked with Cambridge University to create a rich and elegant, digital version of their award-winning, alumni magazine.

The Client

Cambridge Alumni Magazine (CAM) is a print magazine, distributed to Cambridge University alumni.

Reinvigorating the art of the spirited essay, CAM brings together the best of Cambridge thought and debate. Published three times a year by Development and Alumni Relations, The University of Cambridge – it carries intelligent, in-depth features, news and events from the University and a fiendishly-difficult prize crossword.

Following a redesign, the University of Cambridge wanted to replicate the highly visual print magazine with a rich digital version – CAM Digital.

The challenge

The university wanted a digital version of the magazine that was as high quality as the award-winning print version. The magazine was available to read online in PDF format, but this is a restrictive format for a magazine and not at all mobile phone friendly.

Project goals included:

  • Design: present a design that complements the print version and displays the ‘simple elegance’ requested by the client.
  • Content Management System (CMS): provide the client with an easy-to-use CMS, giving them confidence to take ownership of their site.
  • Stakeholders: involve stakeholders throughout the process, to ensure the smooth running of the project.
An article from CAM Digital about break dancing with a central image of a happy break dancer.

Simply elegant design

On this project, our design could really shine. The print magazine has great visual impact, we wanted to continue and evolve this from printed page to screen. However, print design doesn’t always easily transfer to digital and there were certain elements that needed attention.

The typographic styles used in the magazine weren’t suitable for digital, so our Design Strategy Director chose a font sympathetic to the print version, and designed typography for online use.

We designed for varied and strong imagery. The CAM team regularly commission diverse, and impactful illustration and photography, so we gave them layouts and page elements that would allow these assets to be used on the website too.

Archive copies of the magazine are available to readers. But, some old issues use different designs and layout. So we designed the website to be flexible enough to work with the illustrative assets from the older issues.

We designed a menu structure which reflected the index of the print issue, but allowed for article formats changing over time. New readers, on discovering an article format they enjoy, can easily read any they’ve missed.

It’s everything we hoped for.

Bruce Mortimer, Director, Development and Alumni Relations, University of Cambridge

Embracing the internet

The online version offers readers the additional benefits of audio and visual content, browsing through back issues, exclusive online articles, and searching for their favourite articles.

We also added automated, estimated read times to articles – to help users decide whether they want to commit to reading an article straight away or save it for later.

The client can embed Spotify and YouTube content easily in their article pages. A nice example is the Soundtrack articles, which are music recommendations. The reader can listen to the recommendations, while they read about them.

The archive of Soundtrack articles.
Listen to the accompanying Spotify playlist while you read.

The university did an excellent job on the print design. I had a good starting point to extend into the digital version. I focused on typography and space, trying to stay faithful to the print magazine. Simple elegance with an impactful presentation, to engage the readers.

Isaac Lowe
Isaac Lowe, Studio 24

Easy to use CMS

The university needed a CMS which was user-friendly and intuitive, where they could publish pages containing components (images, text, video, etc) in various formats and arrangements. We decided to use WordPress.

We spent one afternoon training the team at CAM to use the CMS, enabling the client to confidently publish their digital magazine with minimal support from Studio 24.

Before we launched the website, the CAM editorial team worked from our studio adding and editing archives – so we could be on hand to support them.

We were very pleased with how WordPress worked for the client. The CMS is very user-centric – putting the user not the developer in control. It’s perfect for this project where we would expect multiple page components and frequent updates to content.

Sean Dunwoody
Sean Dunwoody, Studio 24

Engaging with stakeholders

There were four stakeholder groups in this project. Our client from Development and Alumni Relations, the Office of External Affairs and Communications, the Alumni Advisory Board, and the Communications Working Group.

The Alumni Advisory Board represents the views of Cambridge alumni and advises the university’s Alumni and Supporter Relations team on how to best engage with the global alumni network of Cambridge.

The Communications Working Group reports to the Alumni Advisory Board and offers guidance to the Development and Alumni Relations office specifically on alumni and development communications.

We attended progress meetings where all four groups were represented. We presented the designs, explaining decisions and processes. Engaging the stakeholder groups from the start meant the testing phase was very smooth as they were familiar with the designs, what decisions had been taken and why.

We had a collaborative working relationship with the client. We were very pleased to invite the client to the Studio 24 offices for a couple of days for content entry where our developers were on hand for any troubleshooting.

We had a really lovely rapport with the client. We were very pleased to be invited to meet all the stakeholders for this project. As a result, we had a very productive working relationship based on trust and collaboration.

Claire McDermott
Claire McDermott, Studio 24