The State Journal-Register in Springfield, Ill., launched its redesign today with a narrower web width and all new fonts. The page on the left is the Monday front page; today's page is on the right.
At first glance, the difference in page is quite apparent, moving from a 50- to a 44-inch width to fit on our Journal Star presses up the road in Peoria.
All fonts are new, provided by Font Bureau, and include Miller Display Light, Bold and BureauGrot Condensed Bold for headlines, Benton Sans Book and Bold for breakouts and Miller Text Roman for body copy.
The skyboxes were given a boost with a light brown tint that is reflective of the Springfield architecture. Colors can be added for a bit more pop to the generally monochrome color palette.
Here's a closer look at the old front page:
width="450" height="792" align="left" alt="" src="http://otg.mysuburbanlife.com/sites/joegreco.ghnewsroom.com/files/0228 The State Journal-Register.jpg" />
And a closer look at the new:
Jon Broadbooks, executive editor of the SJ-R, answered a few questions about the redesign:
Why did you decide to redesign your newspaper? The paper had not undergone a overhaul stylistically in about 20 years. That's not to say that changes had not been made to the newspaper's appearance, but the comprehensive review of fonts and appearance had been piecemeal at best. The result was a paper that looked OK, but sometimes lacked consistency of style. A second, big factor was that in moving printing to Peoria we had to go from a roomy 50-inch web to the industry standard of 44 inches. The approaches for the wider format were not as effective for a narrower page.
What do consider to be the biggest change? The typefaces are probably the most noticeable change. They are a little larger and there's more of an open feel to the page. That's what's striking readers first thing this morning.
What changes did you make as part of your redesign? We were careful not to alter many of standing features we had already, but we did take this as an opportunity to shift around some features pages to slots where they made better sense. Our Heartland section, which emphasizes feature writing and photography, was moved to Sunday from Friday, for example. A Home page was rebranded "Simplify" to tap into the need for families everywhere to more efficiently approach life both inside the home and at work. The daily TV grid was adjusted to have color and the type is easier to read now.
What can you tell us about your community? Springfield is a metro area of more than 200,000 people. It's a company town, and the company is state government. We're the Illinois capital, so a huge portion of our readership either works for the state or has connections to those who do.
How have readers reacted so far to the redesign? It's been a mix. Some really like the format and say it's more modern and clean looking. Some of our older readers say they think the typeface is too faint. Overall, though, I think the paper does look better.
What advice do you have for papers considering a redesign?
1. Don't decrease the point size of the body type.
2. Make a list of syndicated features such as the TV Book, TV page, comics and the weather page and get those adjusted early so you don't have to fight the battle to change them on deadline.
3. Communicate internally and externally. Have multiple notices to readers and have a Q and A that runs daily for at least two days leading up to the change, and on the day of the change itself. Respond to commenters on the stories about the design change. And make sure all of your staff are aware every step of the way what you are doing.
4. Finally, when the big day comes, make sure the top editor responds personally to every call and e-mail. It's a time suck, but people really appreciate talking to the person they perceive to be making all the decisions. They may not agree with you or change their minds about the format, but it does give you an opportunity to thank them for reading all these years. That goes a long way, I have found.