Sunday, June 29, 2008

Redesign Isn't Just for Newspapers

Everyone needs a new look sometimes. That applies to publications as well.

As a former editor for the largest newspaper company in the United States, I've done my fair share of redesigns. After 20 years in the industry, it was almost a given. Early in my career, it happened when new editors came into the room and decided their newspaper looked a little dated. Later, as circulation dropped steadily as readers moved online, it seemed they came with more frequency.

The big newspaper redesign news this week: an updated look at the Orlando, Fla., Sentinel, with another in September to follow at its sister paper, The Chicago Tribune. The idea is to re-engage readers in the print product as a way to maintain readership at a time when the industry is struggling nationwide.

In my career, I've helped or directed redesigns at newspapers like The Venice, Fla., Gondolier, The Tribune in Coshocton, Ohio, The Times Recorder in Zanesville, Ohio, and the News-Press in Fort Myers, Fla.

In the last year as an editor at an Internet startup, I've realized that similar redesign principles apply online. The only thing that's different is that you can use traffic as an indicator for what works for readers -- and what doesn't.

Since launching the web site in December, we have listened to reader comments about usability and watched the traffic ebb and flow and come up with ways to address any issues along the way. On Friday, after weeks of work behind the scenes, we relaunched with a new look for the home page.

It's cleaner, simpler and easier to understand. And finally, it's here, so I share. I'd love to hear your comments. So feel free to e-mail me at and let me know what you think.

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