With readers in mind, Quality Progress gets a new look

Not too long ago as part of the process of redesigning this magazine--the results of which you hold in your hand--ASQ invited several members to headquarters to serve as a focus group.

The goal was for the Quality Progress staff to learn more about how readers utilize the publication and to see how it could be made even more useful. As it turned out, the focus group was an extremely valuable part of the redesign. The group helped us clarify our thinking about certain options we were considering and in some cases pointed out further improvements we could--and did--make.

sm_6groupimage.jpg (10131 bytes)One of the surprising things we learned from the focus group was that our readers like to rip us apart--literally. Several members of the group described how they are in the habit of tearing out articles and saving them for future reference--as ammunition when they need to "sell" quality to executive management or as an inspiration for how to deal with a troublesome issue. The focus group members even exchanged tips for the best ways to pull out what they need (some prefer splitting the spine, while others reach for a razor blade to slice out their favorite articles).

To be honest, some members of the Quality Progress staff were taken aback to learn that what they work so hard to put together gets taken apart so quickly and with so much gusto. But they were also gratified to see how the readers of Quality Progress have come to view the magazine as the leading source of news and information for the quality profession. It's nice to know that Quality Progress isn't just gathering dust on a stack of magazines somewhere but is put to use on a daily basis by quality professionals around the world.

Perhaps the clearest message that came from the focus group is that Quality Progress is a tool--a dependable yet versatile tool that has proven its worth for more than half a century. The magazine's evolution is shown in the covers that are reproduced on this page. As you can see, we have come a long way. In fact, Quality Progress can trace its roots back to two years before ASQ's founding in 1946. It was first published as Industrial Quality Control in July 1944 by one of ASQ's predecessor organizations, the Society of Quality Control Engineers. It became Quality Progress in 1968.

These covers show how the magazine has been redesigned and updated over the years, most recently about 10 years ago. As with any well-used tool, it makes sense from time to time to do a little refurbishing--to incorporate new design concepts and new features that extend the essential functionality.

That was our goal this time around in redesigning Quality Progress, and we think we have achieved it. Early on in the process, we took a close look at the strategic direction of the Society and the 1996 ASQ futures study, Quality, the Future and You. That's because we wanted to make sure that any changes would be aligned with the priorities that the membership has set for the Society overall. This led us to some specific design changes, such as adding the phrase "Advancing Performance Excellence" to the cover.

Our readership studies and other feedback show that Quality Progress is held in very high regard. Consequently, we worked hard to retain what we believe have been the keys to our success--forward-looking articles, a rigorous peer review process, and authoritative coverage of standards, statistics, and other quality topics. At the same time, we have revised or added certain elements that we believe will make this magazine easier to read and a more valuable source of information. In this and future issues, you will find:

  • A new cover layout--with more information about what's inside

  • An expanded table of contents--designed to make it easier for readers to find exactly what they are looking for

  • New page layouts with larger, more legible type and topic labels that will direct readers to specific areas of interest

  • Greater use of graphic elements and other tools to make it easier for readers to glean the information they need

  • New departments highlighting changes in the quality profession, international perspectives, and career development

  • A larger amount of space dedicated to feature articles and news. This means you'll see more articles on quality initiatives in health care, government, and education.

As with any quality initiative, we know that the redesign process is one that never really ends. We will continue to look for ways to make improvements, and to do so we will rely on feedback from our readers.

The new look of Quality Progress is in many ways emblematic of the changes that are happening throughout the quality profession. These are exciting times, and as a member of ASQ I am proud to see that the flagship publication of quality is continuing to   set the pace.

Tom Kubiak
Chair, Publications Management Board
Kubiak photo

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