Daily Archives: 07/12/2009

Thoughts from a design judge


MARY NESBITT, managing director of The Readership Institute, offers some thoughts on newspaper design after just having helped judge the annual design contest for the Society for News Design (SND).

Some of her comments:

“Isn’t that the ultimate test of design – does it attract people’s attention? Does it cause them to stop and spend some time with a story, a package, a page, a section? Does it help them extract the most value in the limited time they have?

“If you asked readers directly what constitutes good design, most would not be able to articulate it. But indirectly, in conversations and observed settings, they leave lots of clues.

“For instance, design works for them when it clarifies and enhances the meaning and import of a story and helps them understand something they care about.

“Design works when it makes it easy to find what they are looking for. It works when you can guide them to content of interest elsewhere in the paper – or in the information universe, for that matter.

“Design aids graze-ability. Practically everyone, even heavy readers as Poynter has demonstrated with its Eyetrack research, uses visual cues…”

Check out the entire piece when you have a moment. I believe it helps all of us think more clearly about what we do…and why.

[Thanks to fellow consultant John Peterson]

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APPARENTLY, READERS of the Hartford Courant weren’t all that happy with the vertical nameplate that came as part of the newspaper’s redesign last September. So, now with new management at the helm, the newspaper has decided to return to a more traditional look.

The Courant surveyed readers (and even threw an u-g-l-y reversed blue flag into the mix!) and those readers were pretty strong for the horizontal nameplate.

It’s mistake I wouldn’t have made in the first place. But I gotta applaud them for listening to their readers and being willing to take a step back,

How about you? Would you have done it? What are your thoughts?

[Thanks to friend and editor Patsy Pelton]

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