Archive for the ‘Design’ Category

Nice masthead

October 22, 2007

The masthead was nicely designed last night.



Let fact boxes break up stories

October 22, 2007

Too often, we rely on hairlines to separate story packages; instead, use your art to make this distinction. The revised page below illustrates how this can be done — and rather easily. All I did was flop the two lower packages, moving the alumni story to the left side so the accompanying fact box could be used to separate the two packages. This also moves the art more to the middle, and thus breaks up the two columns of text originally run on the left-hand side. (Click on these thumbnail images to see full view.)





Clean up fact boxes

October 9, 2007

Sometimes, we try to put too much information in our leads, spewing out everything we know about the issue, event or topic. That confuses readers who do not know where to focus their attention. The same holds true for visuals, where a list of jumbled numbers leaves readers dazed and confused. So much information, so little time to synthesize it. Ack! Ooops! Instead, we should pare down the information, selecting a key stat or two to show to the reader, something that will be more easily digested — and something that will be easier to follow visually. I revised a fact box we ran today (see below.) The first is the original, where we strung together several names and stats. A stat was deleted in the second one where information was spaced apart over two columns to make it easier to read. Feel free to use wider columns lengths for fact boxes. We are doing a better job of presenting information in fact boxes, so keep up the good work there. Let’s just work on tweaking them to make them easier to read.



Break up text with art

October 9, 2007

Put fact boxes, like the one below, in the middle of three columns so it breaks up the text. Why do we want to do this? In the original, the reader sees two longer columns of text. (Mind goes: ‘Uh oh, long story’ instead of ‘heck this is going to be fun.’) Design is a means of pulling in the reader. Part of that is making it appear as though there is less text and story. Readers usually want quick takes on the news, which is why briefs are usually the most read part of any section. Our job is also to get readers to dig into lengthier stories worth reading. Putting the art in the middle makes it appear the story is briefer. Too often, we slide the art to the right side when the center works better.

Here’s the original

Original fact

I once worked with an editor who helped design the original USA Today sports section. He who often pushed the dollar bill rule, meaning you should not be able to put a dollar bill anywhere on a display page and cover only text. Display pages are typically section covers. Art includes factboxes, photos, graphics, and even headlines. On the original page, a dollar could fit over the first two columns. On the revised, the factbox prevents this.


Use visual elements to help tell stories

September 28, 2007


We did a really nice job presenting follow-up information on the bar raid at Jerry’s. The package includes break-out info on fake IDs, on the effects of alcohol on grades and what will happen to the people arrested. A brief story offers comments from the police and city attorney. The only advice would be to have reduced the size of the map since most of our readers know where the bar is — and because it is not the most important angle to this story. Still, this is a very good package. We should spend more time developing graphics like this.