The Sun Magazine

A Publishing Platform For a Beloved Archive


The Sun Magazine


2006 - Present


  • Responsive Design
  • UI Design
  • UX Design
  • The Sun is an independent, ad-free, reader-supported magazine. For over forty years, The Sun has used words and photographs to evoke the splendour and heartache of being human. We worked closely with them to preserve the immersive and engaging spirit of the print magazine online — both aesthetically and functionally.

    Why this project was a success

    • 1

      Delivered an intimate reader experience through distraction-free responsive design.

    • 2

      Integrated a revenue-sustaining subscription model that provides leveled access to the archive.

    • 3

      Personalized reader experience & engagement with a custom-built recommendation tool.

    A partnership to be proud of

    We felt an instant affinity with The Sun founder and editor Sy Safransky when we met him in North Carolina over a decade ago. We admire his vision and drive to build a magazine of quality with care and consideration for its readership, its contributors, and for the human condition.

    We worked with The Sun on an early redesign in 2006, bringing their website from a series of static pages and subscription information into a dynamic publishing platform. Since then, Plank has been there to support and partner with The Sun as it navigates the shifting paradigms and standards of both the web and publishing industries.

    Distraction-free design

    The Sun prides itself on delivering an engaging reading experience – without distraction. Our challenge was to translate that intimate relationship between reader and writer from page to screen; be it phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop.

    Ads interrupt the emotional current of the magazine and clamour for the reader’s attention, distracting from the heart of the writing.

    Sy Safransky, Editor and Publisher, The Sun

    We began the project with an in-depth consideration on how to reflect the stately simplicity of the magazine’s print aesthetic in an online reading experience. Our designers carefully chose colours, fonts, drop capitals, and block quote styles to evoke the sensation of the printed page.

    We also created a flexible tool within the CMS for The Sun’s editors to create calls to action and place them strategically – where they won’t interrupt the flow of the reader.

    Recommended reading

    A major component of our recent work was to make the entire 40-year archive available to subscribers. To help ingest such a vast archive, we created an HTML cleanup tool to assist in bringing the text from print files to the CMS with a minimal amount of human effort.

    A corollary challenge was to preserve the cohesiveness of the single issue while simultaneously exposing the depth of content in the archive. We built a powerful recommendation tool that cross-references over 5000 articles by topic, keyword, magazine section, and contributor.

    As a result, the reader can search for a specific article, or choose to wander down the garden path, stop and smell a few roses, without being overwhelmed by the magnitude of the content available to enjoy.

    It pays to subscribe

    Without ad revenue, subscribers play a vital role in the survival of The Sun. We integrated the site with their subscription fulfillment partner to retrieve information that dictates a user’s level of access. Current subscribers can enjoy the full archive, while those whose subscriptions have lapsed retain access to those issues that were published during their subscription.

    About the client

    The Sun is an independent, ad-free, reader-supported magazine. For over forty years, The Sun has used words and photographs to evoke the splendour and heartache of being human.

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