It is important that content changes drive the redesign. Throughout the process of the redesign we have been looking at other publications and websites and thinking about new ways to present information. We had to ask readers and ourselves: what’s working, and what’s not? What do we want to see more of and less of? What is going to get people to pick up the paper?
One of the goals is to get more student voices in the paper. Our current start page — or page two — acts as a hub for corrections, print and online teases and contact information, in addition to one rotating item like Photo of the Week. The overall feeling is that the start page is taking up valuable real estate but tends to get overlooked. To combat this, we decided it would be the new home of our feature section’s front-of-books items. Our feature’s sections F.O.B’s like “Tattoo Tuesday” have been running whenever there was room in features. Moving these items would give them a permanent home and get substantial content back on page two. Page two is it is always in color so we can have great photography featured every day. We also feel that having personal stories at the beginning of the paper would help students connect to other students and create interest.
We looked at our opinion and ideas section as another way to add student voices. This is where our editorial, scribble, columns and letter to the editor run. A former design editor and news editor, Marwa, suggested creating an “interactions” section where we will run student’s reactions to our edit board through Twitter, Facebook, and man-on-the-street quotes.
Additionally, we looked critically at our paper and saw a lack of entry points. Our news front on page three has started looking formulaic. Our solution is to create a daily sidebar with a visual element. This sidebar can relate to a story on the news front or be a standalone element. We could create an infographic based off of a story focused on numbers to help break up the information and add something visually engaging to the page, for example. This semester we ran an infographic on the front page breaking down Obamacare and we hope to do this on a smaller scale on the news front daily.
Last semester I brought back a sidebar we’ve had in the past to the sports back with a daily stat, quote, tweet, and photo tease. We have been happy with how this breaks up the sometimes-dense sports page. To carry this through the paper, each of the section fronts will have similar bars with interchangeable items in each of the section flags.
It is important to keep in mind who our readers are and how they are used to getting their information. Having these bits of interesting information and including more student voices in the paper will hopefully help engage readers. A challenging part of the redesign has been thinking differently and critically about our content.