Firstly, upon receiving the brief we were each given a randomly selected animal, this would define the focus of our article. However, the content would still be defined by us after collecting a body of research into the animal. Animals were selected for each person from the randomizer, when my name was called out the cheetah selected and so became my point of focus. I was happy with this selection as cheetahs are fascinating animals.
I collected the majority of my research from secondary sources such as the National Geographic website and wildlife books from the library. The National Geographic website they have various information heavy articles on the cheetah which I found really helpful when gathering basic information on the cat. Additionally, after looking through their archives I discovered a really thought provoking article which would come to influence the content of my article. The story titled ‘Cheetahs on the Edge’ talked about the struggle for survival that the species is facing and touched upon the modern trades that are affecting the cheetah population, one of these was the illegal cheetah pet trade in gulf states such as Saudi Arabia. I found this section of the article really engaging as I was previously unaware of this trade and its effects. Therefore, I started focusing my research on this trade.
After collecting a strong body of research I started writing the article. I wanted to create the article before designing layouts so that knew how room was needed to place the article on the spread. Moreover, I wanted the article to have a formal tone of voice, and inform and educate the readers about the illegal cheetah pet trade. The article included facts and figures regarding the low number of cheetahs left in the wild, and presented the audience with statements about how the pet trade is affecting the dwindling numbers of wild cheetah. My aim is to shock the viewer by presenting them with such information to reiterate how serious this matter is. It is mentioned on the brief that the article should be at least 500 words long, the final word count of the cheetah article was 854 meaning I have met the briefs requirements and have a substantial body of text to work with.
Once the article was finished I started designing thumbnail variations of possible layouts the article could use. When designing these I was thinking about considerations such as how I wanted the readers’ eye to flow round the page, and how I could guide it using the elements of the article. In my research I initially looked at creating a generic wildlife spread, similar to the ones found in National Geographic. These designs have a large background image relevant to the articles content; the elements of the design are then placed in the negative space left by the image. This is an effective way of displaying high quality imagery of the animal. However, the brief states that we have to use three images or more, and placing images on top of a larger background image can make the composition look too busy. Therefore, I focused on designing a formal spread that delivered the information in a straightforward fashion.
After refining and selecting a layout the design was digitally produced using InDesign. Unfortunately, due to a lack of access to zoos and animal parks I could not collect any primary images of my animal. So had to rely on images found on the internet. This proved to be a problem as most of the images that were directly relevant to the article were really low in quality and highly pixelated. The initial images I chose worked really well as a set and showed a young cheetah cub that had been found starving, wandering the streets. Despite their direct relevance I could not use the images as their resolution was terrible. I wasted a lot of time trawling through the internet looking for relevant, quality images.
After reviewing the magazine spread I made some small design changes. The first was a change of typeface. I had chosen to use Arial, a really formal quite boring font, when looking at the spread it didn’t have any impact. Therefore, I chose to change it for a bold display font called ‘Bebas’ which was more engaging for the viewer. Other small changes were also made to the design to improve its overall aesthetic quality.
Finally, the design was created for a demographic of young adult readers who already have an interest in nature, wildlife and world problems. The target audience defined the tone of voice in which the article took, as to engage these readers it had to be formal and have a journalistic nature. I think that the article achieves this by presenting facts and figures alongside the shocking nature of the story. Moreover, the formal nature of the article is reflected in the design of the spread. There is a basic colour scheme used so that no focus is taken away from the articles content or imagery. Moreover, design decisions were made to help guide the audiences’ eye around the article so that the article is read first which is the supported by the three images. Finally, I think that the article is effective in how it communicates its message and suited for its target audience.