The Observer — the daily independent student newspaper at Notre Dame — launched a redesign this week.
One the left is a front page from last April. On the right is today’s front page.
Editor-in-chief Allan Joseph gives kudos for the redesign to…
Our graphics editor, Brandon Keelean, is an extremely talented design student. After coming up with the goals for our redesign, he and his staff created a number of logo options. We found a general direction in a couple of those logos and worked to refine them…
…while we worked on changing things like our cluttered Page 2, visual navigation on the front page (which was a surprisingly difficult process) and other refinements.
We actually had to overcome an interesting issue — if you look at the original design, you’ll see everything on the front page has been shifted down in order to create a large white space in the top right corner. That was used to inkjet-print our mailing labels for our mail subscribers directly onto the page. Having to keep that space empty meant we were particularly constricted in terms of where we could place our new logo. After working with our printers, however, we were able to move to stick-on mailing labels and free up that space, allowing everything to come further up the page, both improving our above-the-fold placement and our title layout.
Here’s a closer look at the new front page.
Allan mentioned “a cluttered page two.” You see that on the left, here. The new-and-vastly-improved page two is on the right.
The story jumps move to other pages. Gone is the weather forecast. In its place is a calendar reminder of “the next seven days.”
Hmm. Nicely done.
Changes to the opinion pages were minimal. Here are the old pages…
…and here are the new ones.
Just swapping out the giant page label made a big difference. I can’t say I like squashing the editorial cartoon to make it fit, however.
Here is a before-and-after look at the front of the features and entertainment section…
…and here’s the same for the sports section.
The reduced story count allows for larger art. I’d sure like to see a different headline font in play here, however.
Something that struck me as unusual was the Observer’s use of cutlines for half-column mug shots. Allan tells us:
The sideways cutlines you’re referring to are with the headshots, I assume.
If you look at our old edition, you’ll see the in-story half-column headshot on page 1. Those in-story headshots were common both for story subjects and column writers. Unfortunately, 99% of the time, they made the text in the other half of the column extremely difficult to read.
We had the same problem with our pull quotes, which sat between columns. We went with a number of solutions to fill the whole column and decided the vertical name/title with a slightly larger headshot worked best.
It allowed us to fill the entire column and keep the text readable. We went with that solution for story subjects and changed the column-writer byline to include a headshot, as you can see on the new issue 2, with my headshot above my column explaining the design changes.
Not bad. I’d suggest tighter crops on those mug shots, however, to get the faces themselves as large as possible.