[Editor’s note: Lizzie Hart — a junior at Syracuse University and presentation director of its student newspaper, The Daily Orange — is leading the paper through a redesign of its print edition. In this periodic series, she’ll chat about the successes and challenges she runs into along the way.]
The Daily Orange, the independent student-run newspaper of Syracuse University, goes through a redesign about every eight years or so. Coming up on its 110th anniversary, the D.O. is one of the oldest independent student-run papers in the country.
I’m currently the presentation director of The Daily Orange and am in charge of the redesign. I started off at The Daily Orange my freshman year as a design editor. I am now a junior and in my second semester as presentation director. I’m studying graphic design in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. This summer I interned in the art department at WIRED magazine. I tend to lean more toward a feature-like style in my designs, which is being translated into the Daily Orange redesign.
With the upcoming redesign, we hope to give the paper a more modern look, add more entry points and improve certain sections of the paper. We decided that we liked the old school, classic feel of our current flag designed by Jim Parkinson and want to keep it. This helped to shape our overall aesthetic. The Daily Orange’s current design is clean and sharp. We don’t want to lose this classic look, but we do want the paper to appeal to our audience of college-aged readers.
We began our discussions about the redesign last year and are still figuring out the best workflow for designing. We started with a committee of designers and representatives from each section, but found there were too many opinions and we couldn’t move forward. This semester we created a new committee, which includes a former presentation director, the editor-in-chief, Casey, the managing editor, Maddy, two alumni representatives, Katie and Lesley, both former Presentation Directors. It is hard finding a balance between involving the staff too little and too much, but so far, a more intimate group has led to more productive conversations.
I am now trying to delegate tasks to my six designers. The first assignment I gave them was to identify their favorite typefaces they would use to replace our current ones. As our drafts become more complete I hope to show them to the staff and get their feedback as well.
It is very important to me that our decisions are backed up through polling, as we can’t lose sight of the fact that we are doing this for our readers. Our former management team met with student groups and worked with a group on campus to conduct a non-readership survey we are using to guide some of our decisions. We also plan to post an online survey for our student body to fill out and hold focus groups to get more feedback in-person.
The most challenging thing for me has been sticking to a timeline and resisting my desire to start from scratch whenever I get a new idea.
The redesign is scheduled to debut in the spring semester.