By Syed Amer Safir
What His Holiness, the 5th Caliph Said About Feedback
Amongst the vast guidance that His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba), worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, imparted to this humble author, one essential advice was to obtain regular feedback from our readers. His Holiness explained that acquiring feedback should be an integral part of our approach. If we based many of our strategies on suggestions from our readers, we would essentially be providing them with something they prefer. This, in turn, would help strengthen readers’ attachment to The Review of Religions and increase engagement. I was relatively new to this role at the time, and the repeated guidance of His Holiness to obtain feedback helped embed in our team psyche the importance of this element from early on. Feedback has been essential to our approach across different platforms and His Holiness has given guidance on how to obtain feedback relevant to each situation and platform.
An Example – The New Logo
In 2011, we embarked on the immense task of designing a new logo for The Review of Religions, which needed updating for the modern age. After extensive and exhaustive deliberations, iterations, and healthy but robust debate amongst the team, and consultation from people outside the team, we shortened the options to two. Interestingly, when I presented these options to His Holiness, He guided that we should feature both of these options in The Review of Religions for six months each, measure the feedback from readers, and then settle on the choice preferred by the majority.
We, therefore, did feature both of those logo options on our print edition in the early part of the 2010s. The logo we ultimately selected, and continue to use today, is a direct outcome of that reader feedback process. This is also a prime example of the value His Holiness places on feedback and a glimpse into his vast knowledge of magazine publishing strategies.
Readers Passionately Debated This in Their Feedback…
A few years later, we published a special one-off booklet for Jalsa, which featured an article on the prophecy of the Promised Messiah (as) relating to World War I. We decided to use a white cover for the special edition, giving a starkly contrasting look to our regular, black-themed cover. In the spirit of the guidance to obtain feedback His Holiness had taught us, we put both the white and black cover options side by side to the public for feedback. The response was incredible, widespread, and at times passionate and emotional. From all parts of the world, we were inundated with feedback. Many wrote to me directly, often long detailed documents arguing why either the white or black option was the best choice in their opinion. It made us further realise how closely attached members of the Community are to this blessed magazine. Readers opened their hearts and spoke their minds. In the end, it was a nearly 50/50 split vote from the public. And so I took the matter to His Holiness for guidance, who decided, without a moment’s hesitation, that we should keep the black cover – the flag of Islam was black as was the flag of Ahmadiyyat. The cover would maintain its black theme.
We Need Your Help and Feedback
Based on this established principle to obtain reader feedback, taught by His Holiness, we ask you for your feedback on another crucial aspect, the front cover of our print edition. For the last two years, the cover has a ‘full bleed’; this means that the picture we use on the cover stretches across until the very bottom and to the sides, with just the main article title on the cover. Before this, we had sub-headings across the bottom of the cover. And many years before that, we sometimes featured sub-headings at the top of the cover. Both have their advantages. The complete picture allows the image to shine forth in its entire splendour, while the sub-headings enable readers to quickly identify the articles in the edition.
Which cover do you prefer?
We need your feedback! Please send us your comments, feedback, suggestions on whether which option you prefer and why. I assure you that your feedback will directly impact our front cover design for 2022. You can leave comments under this article, email us at email@example.com, or vote using the polls on our social media pages.Our print edition team are working hard to prepare the January 2022 edition, and we have some great content lined up for the new year, which you do not want to miss out on.
About the Author: Syed Amer Safir is the Chief Editor of The Review of Religions.