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Learning page design

Discussion in 'Design Discussion' started by NickMordo, Apr 5, 2011.

  1. becart

    becart New Member

    I am sorry for the misunderstanding. It was not my intention to offend anyone here.
  2. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    I hate Tim Harrower. He's done more to push modular design down people's throats then anyone else in the business.

    My assumption is that he's a nice enough guy but newspaper used to have a distinctive look based on years of design, then Harrower comes along and now, for the most part, newspapers look the same across the country.

    What that also did is allowed newspapers to slash hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs with the creation universal desks and pagination hubs.

    Ugh and double ugh.

    As for learning design, see if someone can set up some dummy pages for you to practice on because while your place might have a glut of designers now, that won't always be the case when vacation season hits.

    Make that pitch to your boss and I suspect his or her issue isn't too many designers, more likely a fear of no one having the time to train you.
  3. forever_town

    forever_town Well-Known Member

    Have you tried to take a class in the desktop publishing software your newspaper uses? Or any desktop publishing software for that matter?

    When I was the managing editor of a low circ bi-weekly newspaper on my university campus, I learned how to use Quark thanks to a guy who was a page designer for the five-day-per-week student newspaper there. I already had PageMaker under my belt at that time, so my biggest problems were trying to translate operations I was familiar with in PageMaker to Quark and having to learn under duress because we had to let our page designer go. I also had a good eye for design because I was also a TA for desktop publishing classes and the instructor I worked with the most had an art background.

    I would definitely recommend learning how to design by designing dummy pages and by asking designers how they design, what their thought process was, etc. whenever there's time.

    As an aside, if anyone wonders why we fired our page designer, some time later that semester, I was showing some of our other staff the basics of designing pages. I talked them through what I was doing and why. One of the staff remarked that I put more thought in five minutes of my demonstration than the other designer did the entire time he worked for us.

    I used Harrower's book more for basic ideas about design and good ways to avoid design foibles. You can still be somewhat unique and still follow Harrower's book. Or you can pick and choose what works best for you after you've learned what you need to learn. Think of the old saying "learn the rules, then break some."
  4. jr/shotglass

    jr/shotglass Well-Known Member

    And to remark on something said earlier, modular design should be pushed on young designers. It creates the cleanest pages.

    You can go outside the modular design grid ... if you've been designing pages for a while and know what you're doing. But if you're a novice and think a dogleg story is the way to go, chances are you're turning out bad pages.

    The whole bigger-than-design-itself issue of design hubs, universal desks, etc. ... well, I think that's giving Harrower and his book a little too much credit.
  5. forever_town

    forever_town Well-Known Member

    That was why I included the quote, "learn the rules, then break some."

    When you're new to any skill, you need to learn the rules for doing things and apply those rules. When you're just learning to write, you should learn the correct usage rules and should be required to follow them rigidly when you're in class. Once you've mastered the skill, then you can branch out a bit, or you can creatively ignore certain rules, or make breaking certain rules part of your art or creativity or whatever.

    But first, learn the rules and learn why they're in place.
  6. To me, page design has always been a three-step process. But none of it matters if you don't know basic design principles. If you look at it as putting a puzzle together, just making a page pretty, then you are missing the true reason for graphic designers. Once you have basic knowledge of good, clean newspaper design, then the three-step process kicks in . . .

    1. take a step back and take a look at all of the elements you have for the page (stories and lengths, photos, refers and breakout boxes, etc.)
    2. Figure out what is important and set aside a heirarchy in your head, and either sketch a sample layout out on paper or in your head. In effect, have a plan before you start throwing stuff on the screen.
    3. When you can, start with your centerpiece, make it dominant, and try and let everything else get out of the way.

    Good layout is obviously more complicated than that, but to me, this was a good basic premise. I started out as a sports writer in the business and after a year, got a job as a sports designer. I have to say, with limited experience and schooling on the subject, it took me a good three years to really feel comfortable in the designers chair.

    It just took me a while to get past "making the page look clean and pretty" and start really thinking about what I want to accomplish with the page design that I choose. After I learned that, I realized it's more about the thought process than it is about execution, or at the very least, equally important. 12 years later, I love my job and what I do, even on the days where I feel I am shoveling sections out the door, because you are not always in a situation where you have a day to work on a features design. In fact, you rarely are anymore.

    Hope this helps, and didn't confuse you. :)
  7. Balthier

    Balthier Member

    I always took the what-my-dad-told-me-when-I-was-wondering-why-my-peepee-got-hard-for-the-first-time-(either-watching-Poltergiest-when-the-mom-goes-up-the-wall-and-you-see-her-panties-or-the-scene-in-happy-days-when-a-young-joanie-watches-the-couple-kissing-in-the-movie) approach: "Take some time and play around with it. You'll learn what you like and what you don't."
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