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Design help?

Discussion in 'Design Discussion' started by spikechiquet, Mar 4, 2008.

  1. spikechiquet

    spikechiquet Well-Known Member

    I have been SE here for 2 years now and I just feel stale. I uploaded a few .pdf's and changed them to .jpgs so you could look at them. Most of this design change came a year ago. The rail was a new add this football season and I'm just looking to "freshen up" things for the spring season.
    We're a twice-weekly and these are recent pages from the last few weeks...so obviously, basketball has been king for the front.

    <img src="http://i267.photobucket.com/albums/ii319/spikechiquet/2-9B1.jpg?t=1204614526">

    <img src="http://i267.photobucket.com/albums/ii319/spikechiquet/2-20B1.jpg?t=1204614499">

    <img src="http://i267.photobucket.com/albums/ii319/spikechiquet/2-16B1.jpg?t=1204614524">

    <img src="http://i267.photobucket.com/albums/ii319/spikechiquet/2-13B1.jpg?t=1204614525">

    And no, I can't do anything about the ads on the front page. I've tried. Here are the direct links for a bigger pic. Sorry, it's the biggest I could get it:


    Thanks for any help/critque and comments.
  2. Ads on the front page can be a problem to deal with, but stacked ads like that is just plain ugly. There really isn't a whole lot you can do in instances like this, but my advice, since it appears you have to deal with stairstepping ads on the cover more often than not, is to somehow, someway, square them off so that you are left with a uniform hole to design the rest of the page on. You did that in the third example and it seemed to open the page up a bit more for you to actually design an centerpiece. It didn't, however, leave you with a lot of room for the rest of the page. here are a coupel more observations. Take them for that they are worth.

    1. If you absolutely have to have the rail with scores, you HAVE to DUMP THE LOGOS. Logos serve a purpose for organization and to break up text, but in this case, there are so many that they just confuse things. The argument could be made, however, that with the ads, you aren't left with any room on the front page for much, so scores are a luxery better served on an inside page.

    2. the score boxes in the gamers take up WAY too much room. You don't have much to begin with let alone taking up an inch of space for the score of the game, something that should be able to be found in the lede. If you really want them, and they do serve a purpose, give them a bit more utility and ad the teams' upcoming game and location in it. I'd dump the logos from there, though, and make it no bigger than body type.

    3. Is there any way you can work with advertising to come up with a new ad scheme to square them off at the bottom of the page, or move some of them to another color position, like the back page, perhaps?

    4. headline heirarchy! There is very difference in the sizes of the photos and the point sizes of the headlines. The reader really doesn;t know if one story is higher priority than any other on the page.

    These were really picking nits on these pages. The problem is there is a very little a designer can dop with ad tacks like that on their page. In short, make the factboxes take a back seat to the articles, and dump the rail that is half information, half logos. It's a waste of preciously rare space on these pages.
  3. jadzia

    jadzia New Member

    My first suggestion is to check out some other sports pages at sites such as newspagedesigner.com or sportsdesigner.com and use those pages to develop some new things to try. Also, be thankful that you can try out new ideas. At my shop, everything has to be prototyped before we can make even the simplest changes to our design style. Other than that, here are a few thoughts:

    1: Page hierarchy. Make sure each page has one dominant photo, and scale the others down so that the page has one main focal point. Typography can also help here.

    2: I can't tell what sort of page grid you're forced to work with. Those are the strangest ad stacks I've ever seen because they don't seem to correspond with any one particular page grid. The stairstepping is awkward, it looks as though your ad department isn't working from a standard page grid. Is there any way to get the paper's management to create a uniform grid so you don't have ads at odd measures? At least on the covers? I don't know what size paper you work for, but even my smallest paper had a standardized ad sales grid that they worked from to keep the paper modular.

    3: The scores in the stories are a nice visual touch, but they really take up a lot of space and the type is pretty big. You can still inset the scores, but use smaller type and consider losing the logos, or perhaps use the scores in a deck-style format.

    4: It's hard to tell from the jpegs, but the typeface in your rail seems to be fairly large. Maybe if you made the type smaller, and topped the rail with a small photo and breakout from a game that's not on the cover, you could then list the other scores underneath for a cleaner presentation. I would keep the rail if possible, though, because I do think it's an element that readers appreciate.
  4. Desk slave

    Desk slave New Member

    I understand your dilemma. Face it all the time. I agree that those web sites are a great place for ideas. It also would help to pick one item as your center focus. Then, make that art 2 to 3 times larger than any other art on the page. You seem to have a lot of art competing for attention.

    I don't envy your situation with ads on a section front — especially an uneven stack. Yuck!

    Have you considered trying to place the scores across the top of the page and above the page topper? I'd drop the logos, too or highlight fewer games.

    Good luck!
  5. Hustle

    Hustle Guest

    If that's the space you get on a consistent basis, I'm presuming you'll only ever get 3-4 stories on your front. (Definitely not four if any of the pics are more dominant.) I'll try to get to some ground that isn't covered...

    With the above in mind, I'd consider finding a way to redo the scorebugs and the overlines. PP is right on as far as the scorebugs go; too much wasted space on a page that has precious little to begin with. The ones we use are half a column with no graphics:


    We use that in combination with sports sigs, one for each prep sport. If photos and graphics aren't an option, consider using a scorebug-sized box over the top that says "Girls Basketball" or "Girls Districts" or something like that.

    Though, come to think of it, I guess this is all what jadzia was getting at.

    My suggestion for the rails is like the others: Lose the logos. They're pretty distracting.

    I like what the Washington Post does with their rail (you can see it, to a degree, on SportsDesigner.com). Instead of just listing scores, maybe pick out a key moment or a key player and use it as a refer inside. Of course, I can't see inside and don't know if any of these games are just there, part of a roundup, staffed... but if you're running a roundup, there's no reason to give away all of that info on the front page. Make the reader do a little work! :)

    As DS said, good luck...
  6. spikechiquet

    spikechiquet Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the suggestions...I have already planned on dropping the logos for baseball/softball season. It does look better. Less clutter (and less work! LOL).

    I'll work on shrinking the scorebugs.

    Yes the ads are goofy...the problem is the comp dept. designs ads for about 4 papers...all different column sizes, so basically they make an ad for one paper and add them to another later..making it all crazy. But, who am I to judge? ::)

    I'll add a new look in a few weeks here when spring sports gets kickin. Again, thanks for the suggestions...
  7. spikechiquet

    spikechiquet Well-Known Member

    Of course, no basketball going on for us...but here is a cleaner version of the rail. I really like having the rail, I guess it's just a design part I like to have.

    <img src="http://i267.photobucket.com/albums/ii319/spikechiquet/3-12B1.jpg?t=1205386230">


    And the inside pages:
  8. Chi City 81

    Chi City 81 Guest

    If you're going to have a rail, don't dogleg it with a bastard measure around an ad. Use the ad as its border, with a pica of space in between.
  9. spikechiquet

    spikechiquet Well-Known Member

    Oh, yeah...THAT. Um, when I left, the ad was shifted over and I had a full rail. Comp got a bug up their butt (I shrank the ad to 95 percent to move it over) and had it "fixed".
    The never ending battle continues...
  10. I would really, really push for them to come closer to squarign off the page a bit better. In the last example you showed, the 1 col. ad at the top of the ad stack on the right hand side could easily be moved to the bottom left, next to the ad with the $30 in it. It isn;t exactly the same depth, but ou could put a 1 col by .5" ad to square them off. The point is opening up a uniformed palate to design the rest of your page. It takes away from the rail, but then again, that should be the least important story on the page anyway.
  11. spikechiquet

    spikechiquet Well-Known Member

    Yeah, ready for this? (and this burns me up pretty bad)

    That ad? The sales staff set it up and got PAID for it to ALWAYS be in upper right on the front page (look back at the other papers, it's there)...forcebly FUCKING my entire design. My Ed sees no problem with it.

    That ad has been a problem for about 2-3 months now.

    And no one bats and eyelash when I bitch and moan.

    So, the main thing is, and I wanted to confirm this with others by posting this is:

    My front page is going to suck...period. LOL
  12. Gomer

    Gomer Active Member

    Yep, it sucks alright. Makes me feel a bit better about my situation, where my bosses have OK'd two earlug ads which go BELOW my section flag and into the newshole on the top left and top right corners.


    Oh, and feel free to critique away.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2014
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