RYAN SUBMITTED A BATCH of pages some time ago, and I appreciate his patience in waiting for this post. All of his pages and notes follow … along with comments from yrs truly.
The biggest thing we are trying to do right now is improve our teases and expand our options for top-of-page teases to get a more enticing “above the fold” presentation. With that in mind we are struggling on Mondays to cope with a top of A1 ad that occupies our tease space. That was the reason for sending you the following papers:
9-19-2011 | 8-1-2011 | 6-20-2011
I picked these papers to give you a sampling of our Monday pages, but the 8-1-2011 (Jazz in the Valley) paper particularly caught my attention because it featured a strong design with good photos and stories from one of Ellensburg’s signature events, yet in our mind, is marred by the “double-ad” day (one ad at the top in addition to the standing ad that runs at the bottom of the rail each day).
I understand your frustration with the ad at the top. But please do not expect me to leap into the breach as “SuperUberFeldMarsallEditorDesigner Guy” and rattle sabers as a champion in the struggle against the tragic creep of ads onto page 1. If you were expecting that, you’ve come to the wrong place. I have my rules for page 1 ads (let’s save that for another time) and this ad doesn’t make it. But in this day … in this economy … I can’t argue against page 1 ads. Even at the top of the page.
I can offer this suggestion: Do a better job of separating the ad from the teasers. Rule it off, perhaps. Or run a tint block behind the teasers, but not behind the ad. Or only run teaser art that’s cut out. Perhaps a combination of these ideas. On these pages, the ad at first glance appears to be another teaser. It’s not. It’s our job as designers to clearly separate the two, not fret and complain about the fact that the boss has agreed to place the ad at the top of the page.
Other points on this page:
1. Nice ‘Sweet ride…’ package, though I don’t particularly like the blue tint behind the sidebar box.
2. Your nameplate is crowded.
3. The weather icons are silly. You can do better with a tiny weather photo.
4. The rail needs some reorganization. The threshing bee story is also inside today, though that label is below that teaser. And the “On the Record” header just seems to float there for no reason.
1. Nice package of photos.
2. Ditto the blue box.
3. What happened to teasers, etc., in the rail? Do we just pull them when we need more space. If so, isn’t that inconsistent?
1. Love the lead photo
2. Ditto the blue box (well, you’re consistent with that element!).
3. Round corners on the tan tint block in the rail: They’re passé.
The 9-9-2011 paper (wind site expansion …) features a new, deeper top-of-page tease, as well as a story on wind farms (a big issue in our parts). The wind farm package was tricky, because the topic generated A LOT of conversation and debate in the region, but was difficult to illustrate. Thus we decided to use maps to do most of the visual story telling.
1. I like the maps on the lead package. Not so much the dull photo.
2. There’s that blue box again!
3. I’d look for another way to design Q&As. I find this format distracting.
4. Teasers are better, though you need to lighten up the shadows. These are too strong and call too much attention to themselves. I find a shadow value of 50% works very nicely. Soft. Subtle. Elegant.
I sent the paper from 8-20 (Verdict: Guilty) to get your thoughts on one of our presentation of one of our bigger stories of the year. The trial in question featured a man accused of killing his brother-in-law and dominated our paper for most of the two weeks trial was in session. The verdict came down at 8:30 p.m. on a Friday, a time when our office is usually empty, but plenty of time for us to adjust our front page before an 11 p.m. deadline.
1. I like the way you broke up the verdict package, though I found the lead photo dull. This could be two guys standing in line at Subway trying to decide on lunch. Both of the smaller photos are much better.
2. Hey! No blue box!
3. An aside: Am I the only one in the world who doesn’t give a damn about Sarah Jessica Parker?
The final paper is the 9/4/2011 edition. I sent this one for two reasons, mainly. One, it again features a new style of top-of-page tease for us, and it also is our only Sunday edition of the year for us. We publish six days a week (afternoon on weekdays, morning on Saturday), but during Labor Day Weekend, which features the Ellensburg Rodeo, our town grows from about 10,000 to around 50,000 or more and we publish an extra edition of the paper. In addition to being the only Sunday paper of the year, it is likley our widest read (or among the top 10) papers of the year, so we try, despite annual bouts of rodeo fatigue, to make it among our best looking and most interesting as well.
1. Nice lead photo. Just the kind of photo you want to get tourists to pick up your paper.
2. Aaaarrrrrgggghhhhh! Another blue box!
3. Good teasers. But…notice that the shadow is cut off on the right teaser. If you’re using soft shadows, you have to move the art in from the page edge just a bit so the teaser will be soft—and not cut off as it is here.
4. Too bad we didn’t get the end of the saw blade in the top-of-rail teaser. And shadow here is too dark, too.