MY FRIEND MIKE DOWTY, Managing Editor at the Livingston Parish News (Denham Springs, LA), sends along this page for review and comment.
Mike and I worked on a redesign of the Livingston Parish News last year and we’re delighted with the results. The paper is more open, more comfortable and more compelling. The credit for that goes to others there, including graphic artist Paul Hatton, who designed this front for the Arts & Entertainment section.
From Mike’s note:
“The package was designed from material on the museum provided by Arts & Entertainment Editor Carol Stuart. The concept was to showcase the museum and its programs by first drawing in the reader with compelling graphics, then present the information in a concise orderly way to make it useful as a “how to find what you want” guide. Not every entertainment event lends itself to such a presentation, but this is the ideal we shoot for. I think the creative use of black suggesting the atmosphere of a planetarium was particularly effective.”
So do I, Mike. So do I. I think the page is a standout.
OK…what do you think?
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]
DESIGNER DANA TUSS from the Lakeshore Weekly News (Lake Minnetonka, MN) offers two recent pages for your review and comment.
“The Emerald Ash Borer was by far the biggest story of the week, but we were trying to figure out how a staff photographer was going to get the shot to tell the story. So we trolled the Extension, Department of Agriculture, Department of Natural Resources sites for their photography, found the images we were looking for, got permission, and ran them—big. My editor was skeptical of the partial cutout on the bug, but totally losing the leaf—and thus the shadow—made him look really unnatural (besides the dark shadows would have been tough to know where to cut him out. And running him just like a photo lost some pop. Bonus: the cutout looked cool once it was online, too.
“We try and do these pages for holidays and stuff. Just a listing of events in the area but come up with a big head, big art and it makes them look a little more special than a calendar listing. And we try to put more personality into the writing on these pages as well.”
So…two interesting pages, each taking a different approach. Questions? Comments? Let us know!
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]