In January 2009 we were invited to take part in a paid pitch for the print redesign for the Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger. All in all five agencies took part in the pitch. We were the only UX oriented agency. The story of a beautiful failure.
We put all eggs in one basket and worked for one month like mad men. We developed a pretty tight concept around the idea of usability, readability and cross media connection. Here is what we came up with:
Old Tages-Anzeiger (”before”) vs. Tages-Anzeiger by iA (”after”).
The concept was: Use all knowledge from contemporary user experience design and translate it to paper. Make the paper more usable, think cross media instead of separate media, while using the strength of the paper (pictures, info graphics, nice text) to the max. Keep the look as close as possible to the original brand and change the guts of the design. Make a product that people want to buy because it is more usable that the competitor, not because it wins graphic design prices.
Basic rule: Ignore all rules of newspaper design to start with and keep only the ones that are useful to the reader:
- Optimize text for reading: Big leading, big body text. We did several reading tests and found this combination to work best for reading. We perfectly knew that this leading doesn’t look very newspaper like (see Basic Rule).
- Reduction to two fonts: Frutiger Next and the new, amazing Frutiger Serif, a heavenly fit, honoring the great Adrian Frutiger for his life work.
- Scannability and print link: Make the articles scannable by using key words in blue. If you speak German you can actually read the front page in 20 seconds by flying over the blue key words. It gets better: If you type any of those key words on the website search, you will get a list of articles with the respective keyword in a chronological order. That way you avoid the necessity to print http;//www.abc.com/abc style links in print. Links in print obviously doesn’t mean that you can click it, it means linking the paper to the online edition.
- Order: Every page is structured from top left to bottom right. Important articles are top left, unimportant ones are bottom right.
- Four columns for soft news, five columns for hard news, mixed 4/5 columns for sports. Ragged text for opinion.
- Big pictures, big info graphics, use the strength of the paper medium