Thursday, January 24, 2008

Studio Jam >> Chicago Tribune Redesign

The Chicago Tribune recently evolved its Page One nameplate following the industry trend. From a design perspective this is a step in the right direction.

But this is less about redesigning a newspaper and more about information design. Newspapers have lost their edge and newspaper publisher have been forced to look at their product differently to compete in a more complex environment. It doesn't matter if you're a publishing a newspaper, a website or an annual report it's all about presenting large quantities of information in an effective and interesting way so the message/content has an opportunity to connect with your audience.

No matter the medium today the content has to be free and dynamic. For the Tribune that meant getting rid of the blue band across the top. Although many would argue that the blue band was a visual hallmark for the paper it was an element that visually competed with the content below. Its time had past and it was a wise decision to move beyond that solution. Not only does it free up the design of the front page it becomes easier to compliment the look of the Tribune's online format. There are some other minor refinements to the mast head that allow for a cleaner presentation as well.

But to see the real design story at the Tribune you need to look across all of their publications. Quietly over the last year or so most of their newspapers, websites and broadcast outlets have been going through design upgrades. For me it has been interesting to see a design strategy in progress. They are doing a nice job of segmenting their customers, refining their products and developing new markets. But if you look close enough you can see what they are really doing which is combining graphic design and technology to develop an integrated content infrastructure across their business. That’s the real advantage of using design strategically.

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