Taiwanease aimed to provide an alternative look at Taiwan to let readers see what was going on outside their door, to open up the variety and the novelty that existed on the island.
It covered a range of topics that showcased the diversity of the island, the articles reflected the broad range of lives led by the people who live there, both Taiwanese and foreign.
As well as wishing to entertain and inform, Taiwanease also had some useful features including an events calendar, movie listings and how-to guides to make life smoother and more trouble-free for English speakers there. A further feature was our comprehensive classified ads sections at the back of the magazine, helping readers to find a job, buy and sell anything from a book to a house.
During its’ brief run Taiwanease was frequently lauded for its’ design and well written editorial.
As creative director in this small start-up I wore many hats. I lead a small team and was directly responsible for the design from cover-to-cover, commissioning of art, design and development of the website, wiki, and events calendar. I bootstrapped a write-once-publish-everywhere xml based publishing system based upon Movable Type.
What I learned
Prior to Taiwanease magazine I had limited experience working in print and working with our team gave me insight into how difficult it is to bootstrap a business around a print magazine. I loved working in inDesign and creating something lasting; so many of the projects I had been involved with up to this point would continuously iterate until the point where my original contribution may become unrecognizable, or the project disappears altogether. Print media has longevity.
With only a year in print, the magazine and it’s wiki, events calendar and website, didn’t stay in business long. This taught me a valuable lesson on how to start a business and provided me with a case study to relate to others. If there is no need, it’s very difficult to convince people to buy a product. We worked on the assumption that since we felt the need for such a product, that others would too. There are two ways of doing design or product development, 1, you go out and talk to people and understand their needs, pain points. 2, you invent a product and figure out a way to manufacture a need (marketing). We chose the latter and we ran out of runway before we could effectively market our product.