A NEWCOMER TO THE BLOG, Mary submitted this page recently. And, yes, the name is “Aransas,” not “Arkansas.” Mary’s note follows. Ed’s comments follow her page.
“Good morning, Mr. Henninger:
At Ken Blum’s suggestion, I am sending our front page for you to critique. We welcome your comments.
We are a weekly newspaper on the middle coast of Texas, on an island. Our community is a tourist destination that attracts the summer crowd as well as what we call Winter Texans.
Although we are tourist community, we are an incorporated city with an independent school districts, churches—the whole “nine yards” that is involved in creating a community. Permanent population: 3,070. On a daily basis there are probably at least 25,000 souls in town. Crowds can swell to 100,000 on Fourth of July.
1. Most of you already know how I feel about “cartoon” art in a nameplate. Here, it’s better than average but I still think I’d work to find a good photo (Sunrise? Sunset?) to place here. I’d have to see some photos before I could make further recommendations. I’m assuming this art has been around for some time and it may have some branding value as a result. But I’d still consider updating with a photo.
2. The nameplate type is a bit too heavy and stylized. I’d look for something more contemporary.
3. The oversize quote mark on the pullout is an outdated approach.
4. The right rail of digests is a good idea…the use of the color overlay on every other item is not—it creates a distraction. Better to kill the screens and use a small photo where it can work, a la the left rail.
5. Standing heads (News Highlights, Inside this Edition, Links…) are overdesigned. Go for something simpler and cleaner.
6. Why pull attention to the UPC code with a heavy box?
7. I think you underplayed the “At long last…” package by placing it at the bottom. Should have been at the top.
8. Vertical float of the side caption on the Sunset skate photo is a mistake. Readers want captions to align with the top or the bottom of the photo. I’d have placed it at the top here, so the negative space can flow upward and out of the page. BTW, linking the caption to the photo with the rules is really no help…it only emphasizes the fact that the caption is floated.
Overall, there’s room for improvement here, though the “at long last…” package shows signs of some good attention to packaging.
Enough from me. How about the rest of you?