Tomorrow is our first full month of operating under the new design.
We discarded any vestige of a “traditional” look. Cleaner, more modern and distinctive typefaces, stronger colors and clear labeling were introduced. We fearlessly introduced white space. We improved display on listings like calendars and briefs. We standardized display throughout the newspapers, from news to sports to features, to unify the look. And we did this for four daily newspapers in about four months.
The response has been 90 percent positive. A few said the larger type is a little along the lines of “Weekly Reader,” which I worried about myself, but readers across all demographics have responded favorably. The edgy caricatures of some of our columnists have been controversial also. Running unflattering likenesses of politicians is our stock in trade, but we’ve been a little uneasy at some of the fun-house-mirror images our freelance illustrator (who has never met our columnists) arrived at.
Our daily comics also seem to end up on a black-and-white page more often than normal, which isn’t a function of the redesign, but is also cause for consternation — even from readers who feel our brighter color scheme makes us look more like a comic book. Other inevitable comparisons: We look like USA Today, We look like the Internet. But these have been minority views. We’re easier to read and navigate, and that’s what readers want.
Our designers have also responded well. The more precise grid is easier to deal with. In fact, the fact that we started this design from the ground up, beginning with Frank Mina’s concepts and groundwork, forced us to really think through everything we’ve been doing.
I’ve worked in newsrooms where design and decoration are confused. I’m glad to be in the company of editors and executives who know the difference, and will push through all sorts of barriers, like timeframes and limited resources, to get something right.
So you’ve all had plenty of time to digest the new look, and to interact with our pages. Thoughts, anyone?