11 responses to “Pages from: Michael Howie | Oakville Today

  1. Judy Salter

    I agree all the way. You can’t do anything about the ads, and giving news a bit of separation will help. The banner just doesn’t make sense, either with the two colors or the fonts. Make it one color, one font, and you probably will like it better. I was in the business for more than 30 years, and never could get a banner completely updated. Owners do have a vested interest and tend to want to do what they like.

  2. David Merrill

    I agree with Ed about the nameplate. Colorwise, I think it could be improved by using a much darker green and a slightly redder yellow. And my eye would prefer to see one typeface — the one used for “TODAY” — for everything on the nameplate.

    That’s a boatload of ads on the front page! A lot of papers run full-width banners along the bottom of page 1, but I second Ed’s opinion that the stack of small ads clamoring for attention on the left really cheapens the look of the whole publication.

    A couple of comments about photos and layout. In the top page, the largest photo is of a snowy scene, and the eye is drawn to the words on the signs, yet the headline shouts about a flood. It would make sense to me to make the actual flood photo as large as possible to go with the headline, and, if necessary, inset the snowy one.

    In the second page, the largest photo (father and daughter ice-skating) appears to relate to the headline that adjoins it. I realize there’s a rule between the photo and the “Muslims and Jews…” headline, but the photo caught my eye first, then I looked to the nearest headline for the context, and wondered what this photo had to do with that story. It took a while for me to realize that the photo’s story was in its cutline. I’m not sure what to suggest as a solution, though: perhaps a heavier vertical rule and putting the headline (“Skating for KSM”) and maybe even the entire text above the photo.

    It appears you’re not jumping anything off of page 1, which means you’re working with tremendous restrictions in an already cramped space. Good luck!

    • David: All good points. I should have made it clear in my nameplate comments that I really don’t like the reverse at all. I’d kill this version and start from scratch.

  3. Agreed. Pretty big fan of keeping the head simple. Black solid lettering with old, slim serif fonts can help say, “classy, yet current.”

    It’d be worth it to double your column width when using dividers, too. Can really help with the cramped look without costing you much real estate…

  4. Thanks for all the comments folks!

    As you can imagine, designing that page can be a bit of a headache with the ads and heavy banner.

    After reading some comments, our GM is considering revising the masthead – so good work to the Henninger crew!

    I’m going to look at moving the photo head to above the photos rather than below – that should help separate from the rest of the headlines.

    We’re also going to try a thin line between the ads and the copy.

    One of the biggest challenges that comes up is the placement of photos. If I do anything to the left of the page it runs with the ads, and I have to be careful at the top of the page as it may run with the banner (which will hopefully change).

    I’ll submit an updated one next week (this week is a bit weak, I’m afraid) and see if we’ve made improvements!

    Thanks for all the tips!

    • Glad we could help, Michael. If you’d like to post nameplate ideas here for comment, just let us know. We’re not shy about offering our ideas, are we?

  5. UPDATE: Our GM has decided to switch to one font. He’ll be keeping the yellow and white faces and the green background. He read all the comments but he and one of our original ad guys both think the mast needs to ‘pop’.

    The paper is delivered within a wrap (140 ag deep) and the header now (after the last redesign… which took it from being about 5×4 to being 10×1.5) is above that completely.

    We’re also delivered within another newspaper that we compete with – that’s another fact of life that can’t be changed.

    So the theory goes that the green and yellow pop the masthead. We’ll be sticking with the font used on the left and seeing how it goes from there.

  6. I see three things, including a nameplate suggestion.

    One, I don’t like all sans serif headlines. I like the lead to be sans serif and use a serif font (like Garamond) for the other front page stories.

    Second, I’m not a fan of overlapping photos as you do in the first page. I won’t lie and say I’ve never done it before, but that’s something I try to avoid.

    As for the nameplate, I like the layers (placing 100% black font text box underneath), but stick with one color for the nameplate. Choose a color that best identifies your publication. That seems to be green based on what I see above. The yellow is just too distracting. Also, lose the green banner and use a horizontal 40% black rule to separate the nameplate from the lead headline. Lastly, I’d try to find a stately font, like Utopia, for the nameplate. Hope that helps!

  7. David Merrill

    Not overstating it at all, Ed. However, it’s becoming pretty clear that this is not Michael’s call. It appears that the nameplate, the ad layout on the front, and perhaps the design of the entire paper are under the control of the GM, with help from that “original ad guy”, which makes much of the design a “fact of life” by the time it arrives on Michael’s desk. It appears that Michael’s voice as a designer doesn’t carry much weight in the organization: he’s just the layout guy. I don’t know what the actual office dynamics are, but this is my sense of it.

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