Early glimmerings of our new look

Along with a new masthead, Gayle has been working on a new overall look for The Journal. In addition to the qualities we talked about embodying (integrity, tradition, credibility, etc.) I have been stressing a look that has visual elegance and straightforwardness.

That sounds pretty subjective, I know, but I think our values as a newsgathering organization have to be embodied in how we present that news. To me, straightforwardness and integrity require that we  manipulate our content as little as possible. And that means as a rule, we avoid close-cropping or fading out photos, for instance, or introducing gimmicky typefaces that distract readers from the information. (Many of you in the newsroom have already heard this rant.)

Gayle and I have done a lot of work together over the years. She and I were colleagues for a couple of years at  The Gazette in Montreal, and we collaborated on a redesign of the Times Colonist in Victoria when  I was there. So when we talked about all of this, she understood what I meant. She has been playing with a number of different typefaces and styles that reflect what we are striving for as a new image, as well  your beefs about our current style, especially those of copy editors who had specific observations about the labour-intensive or problematic nature of some of what we do now.

Here is an early glimpse of some of her ideas. Please note: this is not the final design. These are not the final typefaces. This is not the new masthead. These are not the final styles. So please don’t get distressed by the fact that the decks are in italics or the headlines are in capital letters or other such matters. This is a highly preliminary version of what will eventually become our new design.

A redesigned A1

The front page we published June 18, 2011

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Early glimmerings of our new look

  1. I like the proposed new look – it’s airy and clean and fresh. And David Staples looks just like me!

  2. I have to admit, not only do I like the new design, it brings me some relief, as it’s coherent, unified, and the top of the page especially does a great job visually and cleanly selling what’s inside.

    I think readers crave coherence, unity, predictability in their newspapers, and predictability over all other things. They want to know where things are, where they can find things, the same place, the same spot, the same look.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean the content should be predictable in the least, but the when I pick up the paper, I want it to be easy, clear, predictable, and this look is a step in that direction.

    P.S. Hey. in the redesign Paula Simons get credit for writing that Nugent-Hopkins story 😉 I’ll have to up my game.

  3. Alexandra Zabjek

    I can see the advantage of a 6-column layout in this sample and think it looks a lot more crisp and modern than our current design. Something I wonder about is the amount of space given to the teasers at the very top of the page — do they have to be a certain size in order to make the page work? (a question from someone with very, very limited design experience…). With the news hole always seeming to shrink, I just worry about making every inch count for our copy, etc.

    • The size of the teases at the top are already a predetermined size because there is an ad position (these ads are called “earlugs”) of a predetermined size at the top of the paper. You can see the earlug we run in the original A1 from June 18; it’s in the top right position and is aqua-coloured. Gayle’s redesign has a shallower series of skyboxes (those teases at the top) if you compare the two designs. All of this is preliminary, though; our Advertising department is part of every discussion we have about changing the design of the paper when it affects the advertising positions available. There is no intention to make the skyboxes deeper than they are already.

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