Q&a With Lucie Lacava

Design Consultant

News

September 18, 2005

If you looked at a newspaper published 100, 50 or even 20 years ago, odds are that it would appear strangely old-fashioned to you. Where is the color art? Where are the sophisticated graphics? The helpful indexes and boxes? Newspapers change with the times, and, over time, those changes have been pronounced. So it is that The Sun is introducing a new look. Lucie Lacava, a noted design consultant who helped guide The Sun's latest effort, answers some questions about newspaper redesign and the new look of the paper.

Why are newspapers redesigned?

Sometimes for technical reasons like new presses or because of changes in editorial direction, but, almost always, the underlying reason is to make the paper more appealing and accessible to current and potential readers.

How often do newspaper redesigns occur?

They used to come about every 10 years, but recently they've been arriving more frequently. Rapid changes in other media, including television and the Internet, have created expectations for fresher, brighter, clearer newspaper layouts. The last big redesign at The Sun came about ten years ago.

What are some of the most visible changes in the latest redesign?

There will be more color in the paper and a fresh, contemporary look with a layout designed to improve navigation. Newspapers used to be black and white, but now they have lots of color. We've designed all of the typefaces used in the paper's headlines and text to make the paper more legible. The text font will appear larger, and the headline fonts will be less condensed. Styles for boxes and other typographical features will be made consistent throughout the paper. There will be more features to help readers interact with the paper and to connect with baltimoresun.com.

Will Page One look different?

The vignette at the top of Page One will remain with a few refinements -- color will be added and other elements will be redesigned. There will be an L-shaped box across the top of the page and extending down the left column that will be used to tell readers about interesting content inside.

Where did the colors used to highlight features and guide readers in the redesigned Sun come from?

We made an effort to identify colors that would harmonize with the architecture and culture of Baltimore, spotting shades on old buildings and in other public places.

Are you worried that all of this change will turn faithful Sun readers off?

There is always a period of adjustment, but if we have done our job well, the design of the paper will quickly become invisible and readers will begin to take for granted the tools we have devised to guide them. The Sun redesign has been tried on newspaper readers in a number of Baltimore-area focus groups. The response has been positive.

Lucie Lacava is president of Lacava Design Inc. Since founding her company in 1992, Lacava has redesigned more than 50 publications across Canada, the United States, Latin America, and Europe. She has received more than 100 national and international awards.

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