In 2015, the Society of Actuaries (SOA) — the largest professional organization dedicated to serving actuarial members worldwide — partnered with GLC to re-imagine its content marketing program, The Actuary. The program began as a flagship magazine, which is delivered to 27,000 actuaries on a quarterly basis, but was expanded to include a responsive website to house the magazine content, web exclusives, interactive photo galleries, video and a digital annual report.
While the initial reason for redesigning the magazine alone was to align it with the SOA’s new brand standards, GLC incorporated improvements to the pacing, platform and overall content based on industry best practices and reader feedback. This included rethinking how content would live on the web.
First, we looked at what the SOA was doing currently and identified a few key actions we could take to improve the overall program. The goals:
1. Create consistent departments to appear in every issue. We also enhanced the platform to include departments that reflect the changing business world, such as departments about the international community and digital tools for actuaries.
2. Improve pacing. We have a solid number of departments surrounding the robust feature well.
3. Package easily digestible content. A goal of the SOA staff was to create compelling content that would appeal to a broader audience, including business leaders and CEOs. We worked to incorporate more sidebar opportunities into departments and features that include key findings and actions to take after reading the article. Making the complicated graphs and charts that often accompany the features easier to follow has been an exciting challenge.
4. Position the redesigned The Actuary magazine as an extension of the SOA’s brand experience. We created a look and feel that is consistent with the new SOA brand standards while pushing the envelope creatively.
5. Defining the web style. We had to figure out how we wanted the print to translate to the digital. Every detail from the style and placement of author biographies to the treatment of sidebars and pull quotes.
6. Website Architecture. The new website’s information architecture utilizes the magazine departments as flexible article categories. The content management system allows for both magazine specific articles as well as web exclusive material and interactive components such as galleries, interactive charts and video.
7. Google Charts. Translating the complicated graphs and charts that often accompany the features to the digital format has proved to be challenging. However, GLC developers found a solution in Google Charts, and they look great on any device.
The new magazine design gives The Actuary a refreshing visual style that is professional, detailed and inspired by the importance of the subject matter while still being advanced and new. With a new SOA brand recently unveiled, we worked with their team to help push the magazine’s identity. Our design incorporates the SOA’s position as a trusted source for the profession and the community. We utilized a clean and sophisticated grid structure that allowed us to maintain their vision and keep the design airy. Headline fonts to reflect the theme and thought provoking creative imagery were chosen along with unique concepts delivering a design that conveys professionalism.
Our creative team leverages a conceptual approach for the features and cover strategy. This approach enables us to present the content in a unique way that gets readers to think deeper about the subject matter in each issue. Infographics, well thought out imagery and typography are used to help bring content to life keeping in mind how it translates to the publication’s new digital platform.
The results have been a more consistent publication that makes complicated graphs and graphics easier to follow. The addition of more sidebars to articles makes the magazine more approachable and reader-friendly. The feedback from SOA staff and members has been overwhelmingly positive.
Yet there was more to tackle. TheActuaryMagazine.org is the digital counterpart to the Society of Actuaries’ (SOA’s) flagship publication, The Actuary. It is a customer-centric site that lives in conjunction with its parent site, SOA.org.
Initially launched to replace a stale, page-turning PDF viewer on SOA.org, the dynamic, responsive design of TheActuaryMagazine.org now allows for vivid photos, videos, links, an interactive table of contents and web-exclusive content for online readers. The website’s design template is clean and fresh, and equipped with a modern abundance of white space and minimal highlight colors. This stylish look is the perfect choice for allowing a user to navigate a site quickly and clearly, and also stays true to the SOA’s brand.
An objective of TheActuaryMagazine.org is to be responsive so that all of the content—text, imagery, sidebars, graphs, charts—looks great on any device. It was also the intention that the website complement the print publication and be a conduit for sharing articles, which in turn expands the publication’s reach.
Another goal of TheActuaryMagazine.org is to house additional content that does not appear in the print magazine because of limited space or the need for increased interactivity. It is a go-to resource for all cutting-edge actuarial content from the SOA. The website also contains a PDF archive of past issues of The Actuary dating back to 2010, allowing actuaries to refer back to older content that is still relevant.
TheActuaryMagazine.org not only gives the more than 27,000 SOA members a place to access current and leading-edge information, it provides the latest resources to help them stay on top of actuarial trends and enhance their business career development. Plus, the website also features in-depth and timely articles that focus on all actuarial practice areas. Readers will find articles on SOA education initiatives, trends in international business and interviews with actuaries paving the way into new areas of practice. Additionally, they’ll find a web-exclusive series about the Affordable Care Act exchanges, which was promoted in the print magazine and via an e-newsletter that is sent in tandem with each issue to highlight feature articles.
Our content partnership is one based on joint goals and open communication. And as we enter our fourth year, we continue to work hard as a team to refine the look and feel of each product (hint: a redesign is coming in 2018) and use metrics and data to revamp our offerings.