By: Ed Henninger
“Well, the design works great. We love the new look. And our readers do, too. But we need some help. We’re concerned about page 1 not looking too much the same all the time. Can you help us with that?”
When I receive that kind of note from a client, I get to work creating page models for them to emulate. The page 1 models give them something they can look at and follow to help them create well-balanced, focused fronts.
I usually create at least six models: three with a vertical lead photo and three with a horizontal lead photo. There’s an example of each in the illustration accompanying this column.
These are not InDesign or Quark templates. There’s no formatting involved. No style sheets. Just pages with rectangles on them to serve as a guide for creating a good front page.
If you want models for other pages, such as your sports front or opinion page, well, we can create those, too.
The advantages of page 1 models:
• They obviate the need for you to reinvent the wheel. You’ve got good models to work from. Choose one of them as your guide and begin to design your front.
• Because the models give you a head start, your design process is usually faster and less encumbered with the feeling that you need to do something different with each page 1 design.
• The models give you an approach to page 1 that is consistent from issue to issue. Your readers don’t need something on page 1 that is very different from the last issue. They just want something they can follow.
• While giving you a more consistent look, the page 1 models (remember, there are at least six of them) are not cookie-cutter designs. They’re not meant to be. They’re guides…not hard-and-fast-you-gotta-do-this designs.
• The models are meant to be flexible. If you don’t have a lead photo in exactly the same proportions as that on the model, that’s fine. If you don’t have a mug shot to go with a story, that’s OK. If you’d rather place the bottom photo to the left side, that’s good, too.
• These models are only starting points. They’re something to help you get your design moving in the right direction. Once your design is going that way, then the model has served its purpose.
• They can change as you update your design. Need some teasers at the top? Fine…adjust the model. Want to use a banner ad across the bottom? OK…adjust the model.
Page 1 models give you a head start to a well-designed front page in each issue. They’re another tool you can use to create a newspaper that readers will enjoy calling their own.
WANT A FREE evaluation of your newspaper”s design? Just contact Ed: firstname.lastname@example.org | 803-327-3322
IF THIS COLUMN has been helpful, you may be interested in Ed’s books: Henninger on Design and 101 Henninger Helpful Hints. With the help of Ed’s books, you’ll immediately have a better idea how to design for your readers. Find out more about Henninger on Design and 101 Henninger Helpful Hints by visiting Ed’s web site: www.henningerconsulting.com
ED HENNINGER is an independent newspaper consultant and the Director of Henninger Consulting. On the web: www.henningerconsulting.com. Phone: 803-327-3322.