Before I was sports editor at TPN, I was the layout editor for a little more than year. It was a great experience and like changes on the web, I got to oversee some new things happen to our print paper.
That’s why I find this story about a Swiss newspaper’s quest for a redesign very interesting (via OJB). The premise, here, is that a design company, Information Architects, was one of five groups that wanted to redesign the Swiss newspaper, Tages-Anzeiger. The company wanted to streamline the print edition and connect it with the online version.
iA failed in their bid, but their ideas are very interesting. iA’s post about their attempt goes into more detail with pictures. Overall, it was complete paper overhaul, so I won’t post about the non-online stuff (although, it’s a good read if you’ve ever worked in layout). But here are the more, as iA writes, “controversial” ideas:
1. Blue words. These words are meant to be scanned easily, so somebody could read the front page in 20 seconds. If somebody wanted to learn more about the story, they could type the blue words into the paper’s website search function and get more information. “Links in print obviously doesn’t mean that you can click it, it means linking the paper to the online edition.”
2. Reader comments. Next to a story that appears in print is a reader’s comment that appeared online. The goal is to further the connection between writer and reader.
Like I said, Information Architect’s post has more pictures of their complete redesign, but they also have the full .pdf file of their redesign available.
I could not agree more with iA’s attempt to redesign a print paper and think that a lot of people would agree with me. It’s a very radical change to a traditional form of news, but the information age has shown us that change needs to happen. Newspapers are going left and right and now is the time for somebody to try something “controversial,” or that paper will fall just like others before it. You should definitely read the bottom of iA’s post, where they outline their pitch to the Swiss paper, because it has six important pieces of advice for newspapers:
I. Three Premises
1. The Masses are not Wise …but the have become much more powerful.
2. The Reader now is a User …she is in control.
3. Newspapers need to Change: …user experience is (the) key.
II. Three Guidelines
1. Improve Readability …and make the newspaper scannable.
2. Stay True to the Medium …with optimal reading typography, big images and prominent info graphics.
3. Mary Print and Online <…because Brand=UX
That’s some pretty powerful stuff to tell a newspaper. This was pitched to a European, Swiss newspaper so I’m not sure what their philosophy is or who exactly they are catering to, but I believe in this goals and would like to see a print paper attempt these. I’m not an expert on European newspapers, but if they’re anything like most American papers, they’re run by traditional, conservative (not politically speaking) people who are afraid of change and want to cling to the ink on their fingertips, which is something, I admit, I miss.