Communications Studio P1

Hannah Lesser
6 min readSep 1, 2021


Our group was assigned Rolling Stone. More specifically, Olivia and I were assigned to the website, I’m excited to analyze this publication, because I know how iconic and reputable it is in the music world. I love listening to music of all genres.

On the first visit to the website, the first thing I notice is how busy the homepage is. There’s a lot to look at and choose from.

As you delve deeper in the website, it stays just as busy.

It will be interesting to see what the grid structure for the website is.

I also notice the use of the color red, which is bold and eye-catching, as well as the bold sans serif typeface used for headlines.

Olivia and I’s initial notes for the website


Today we did more research into the history of the brand and began comparing the print edition of Rolling Stone to the website.

It was really interesting to learn more about the history of Rolling Stone. “It was founded in San Francisco, California, in 1967 by Jann Wenner, and the music critic Ralph J. Gleason. It was first known for its coverage of rock music and for political reporting by Hunter S. Thompson. In the 1990s, the magazine broadened and shifted its focus to a younger readership interested in youth-oriented television shows, film actors, and popular music.It has since returned to its traditional mix of content, including music, entertainment, and politics” (Wikipedia).

70s — 90s: Shortly after Rolling Stone came out they realized teens/younger generations could be a profitable audience → began to design to appeal to teens/ayounger audience
^ took this audience → mainstream
The magazine that once launched bands began devoting more attention to established stars. Some readers/contributors accused Wenner of “selling out”. RS then moved thier headquarters from SF to NY (mainstream).

“In the process, the magazine itself became a kind of celebrity. It stood for something. It was a symbol of what the kids were up to and how they were turning into their own kind of bourgeoisie. In following them, Rolling Stone was merely doing what great magazines have always done — accommodating taste, which in this case meant accepting the fact that rock and roll had faded. Its stars did not move the needle the way they used to.”

As far as comparing the website and print editions, the website seems to have more informal, shorter articles comapred to the magazine. That being said, the website does house the feature articles present in the magazine, like the one about Billie Eillish, who is on the July/August 2021 cover that we are analyzing. The website also does not seem to have a super clear grid system as I try to figure it out. Every time I put a column down, something about it doesn’t quite add up.

Attempts to illustrate grid for homepage

As our group began putting our slides together for the practice presentation on Sunday, it was difficult deciding how to break up slides and divide information, what was important to include and what was less valuable to the presentation. It was also a challenge deciding how to most effectively compare the print and website versions of Rolling Stone.

As I began researching the audience of Rolling Stone, it was difficult to find a current media kit. The most recent one I could find for the United States was from 2016, and the most recent I could find globally was from Italy in 2018. I will use these statisitics but take them with a grain of salt.

As I began to think about how best to visualize this information, I tried pie charts and different sized circles.

We also discovered that for the website, instead of a grid system, certain pages are divided into content percentages depending on how deep you are into the site. I drew rectangles over content boxes in Illustrator and used the number of pixels to divide and find the percentages.

The breakdown of content on the homepage and music subpage


Overall, I think our presentation went well. We definately have a lot to improve, though. These are the notes we took from Vicki and Yoshi:

I think some of the most important things we need to work on are our transitions, which will help the communication with our audience. We also need to work on comparing the print and web more.


Our group got a lot of work done today, even though the presentations got moved to Thursday. I think we’re doing a better job at creating a more effective presentation overall, even if this means creating more slides for transitions.


Today as we finished up our slides, we focused more on making our script more clear and concise. we reassigned speaking roles so that each groujp member spoke a more even amount. We practiced our presentation many times for seamless transitions and to become as familiar as we could with the script.


I feel really good about how our presentation went. I think Yoshi and Vicki liked it overall.

I learned a lot from this project about grid systems in print and on the web (or lack thereof). I was also able to explore and further my understanding of the elements of design, like form, hierarchy, typography, use of color, photography, pacing, and intended audience. It was really interesting to see how all of these elements come together to form the publications we know and love, and how these elements differentiate certain brands from others and create distinctive styles for the publications.
I also learned a lot about creating effective presentations. The actual analysis of our publication was only half of the assignment. The other half was creating succinct slides to show our discoveries to an audience of our peers. Although this assignment was only for our peers, I will be able to apply the skills I learned through this assignment to future presentations and projects. It’s important that we present our findings in ways that keep the audience engaged and intrigued throughout the presentation.

I think as a whole our group worked well together. I felt like certain people in my group naturally took more of a leadership role, and sometimes I wish I felt more included or was at least assigned more tasks. Sometimes I felt like even if I took initiative to complete a certain task it wouldn’t have been done in the right way, or in the way they wanted. I hope this didn’t lead to them feeling like I wasn’t contributing enough to our group or our project.



Hannah Lesser

design, social and political history at carnegie mellon university