EDITOR MANDY FROEMMING offers three pages for review and comment. Her note follows. Below each page, some thoughts from Ed.
I’ve been following your blog for a while now and we are interested in getting some feedback on our design and presentation. I’m including three fairly typical pages from our weekly, which covers eight cities in the northern metro of the Twin Cities.
We would initially like to do some tweaking and update headline fonts—I’m not sure if we’re in the market for a major redesign quite yet, although it has been about seven or eight years since our newspaper group has had one. One thing that is unique to the Union is we have a very large news hole with plenty of wide open pages to accommodate for the massive amount of legal advertising included in our publication. So while it is a challenge to fill, we don’t very often have to cope with cramped design.
Any feedback would from you and the blog’s readership would be appreciated.
Mandy Moran Froemming
1. I don’t get the “ABC Newspapers” snowman thing. Is that by corporate mandate?
2. Seems unnecessary to us the Section A label.
3. Nameplate seems very big to me, but I assume part of the reason for that is to create space at the right for the mailing label.
4. I’m not a fan of the gradient screen bars. They seem gratuitous and overdesigned.
5. What’s with the snowflake treatment along the right edge of the lower photo? And why the blue border?
6. Good use of teasers in the left rail. Having the QR code there is a good idea!
7. Would rather see an index than the ECM Publishers and Circulation Council logos at the bottom of the rail.
8. More negative space between the rail and the news area of the page would help.
9. Every story here is in a different column width. That can be confusing. The page has not underlying structure.
10. Schaaf mug could be cropped more tightly.
1. Rules above and below bylines seem to cut the byline off from the story. I’d drop them altogether.
2. Again, the gradient bars trouble me…because they draw too much attention to themselves.
3. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t like all-caps in italics as you have in the page label.
4. Check the body type to the left and right of the pullout in the Ham Lake story. Tightening the width of the text to insert the pullout has created excessive word spacing here. That makes us look sloppy.
5. Use of the U.S. flag here is gratuitous and really adds no information.
6. Mugs in the Fairview Clinic story should be more tightly cropped. Show readers their faces, not half of a torso.
1. The page is unbalanced: all of the photos but one are on the right side of the page and the one photo at the bottom left is too small to keep the page from tipping heavily to the right.
2. I want to move the top right photo more to the center of the page, taking just enough off the top and bottom to get the caption below it and not to the side. I think I would then do the same with the photo of the drummers. It would be a squeeze, but I’d give it a shot.
3. Bottom photo layout troubles me because of the placement of the captions. I like captions under the photo because I know that’s where readers like them.
So…is Ed being a design purist again? Does he grade too tough? What are your thoughts? Let us know!