Behind the cover: Scaling People by Claire Hughes Johnson
How the Stripe Press design team created the cover and interiors for Scaling People.
Today we’re sharing a behind-the-scenes look at how the cover and interior designs for Scaling People came together. Read on to learn how Stripe Press designers Josh Miranda and Kevin Wong developed the cover art and some of the unique visual elements in the book.
One of the central themes of Claire Hughes Johnson’s Scaling People is that the work of building a strong organization is never done. Your strategy and tactics will evolve with your company, and so will your skills and responsibilities.
Early on, we knew we wanted to create a cover that conveyed the idea of building and scaling, so we started with the idea of combining smaller elements to create a larger illustrative piece.
Over the course of many cover concept iterations, we found that we were circling this idea of a manager, or even a larger team, being a work in progress—something you work at, not something that is automatically perfect. This led us to lean into a simpler illustration style that would feel more like a blueprint or framework than a complicated illustration.
From there, we took the concept further by pairing the geometric illustration with a natural paper treatment to convey the contrast between the more rigid, “corporate” elements of running a business and the more approachable, human elements of being a good manager or leader.
As we started to think about finishing touches, we decided to pair the natural paper with a more vibrant accent color. The final touch was deciding to add a clear varnish to a few sections of the illustration to convey the idea of smaller pieces being filled in—a subtle nod to achieving scale or making progress.
Joshuah X. Miranda
Designer, Stripe Press
Scaling People contains a number of unique interior elements, including worksheets, sidebars, and QR codes. I really nerded out on figuring out how all of these elements would work together. How do you make the sections feel different enough visually, so the reader understands at a glance whether they’re looking at a continuation of the narrative or some of the more complementary material?
The sidebars are a great example of this. Usually, sidebars are literally that—information placed to the side of the main text. But because the sidebars in Scaling People are more substantial, we chose to leave the typographic styling alone and differentiate the text with a label and a color change.
We also spent time getting the QR codes right. I’ve always found it frustrating when I come across URLs in a book—entering the URL manually so I can visit the reference is a major pain. In Scaling People, if an endnote has a URL in it, we placed a QR code in the outer margins of the book so it’s easier for readers to visit. Using QR codes also allowed us to link readers directly to printable versions of the chapter worksheets.
In print, we made the worksheets blue to differentiate them from the main text and so they can act as a wayfinding device between chapters. Since Scaling People is a resource readers can return to again and again, we wanted to make it easy for people to flip to the chapter that gives them the information they need at that moment.
Designer, Stripe Press