A new post about the new Post

UPDATED: Our friends at the National Post have launched a whale of a redesign, ditching the traditional horizontal architecture that almost every other broadsheet uses (we say “almost” because we’re still checking out a few things here at Blog Central, but we’re pretty sure).

We caught up with NP managing editor for design and graphics (and SND vice president) Gayle Grin to talk about the redesign.

Is vertical the new horizontal?

The key here is we have respected the design underpinnings of this paper – a unique combination of traditional and modern font and layout, vertical design and a bold presentation – and built on them. The vertical banner is a logical next step in our design. Definitely not trying to redefine design. We are trying to be a different type of newspaper both in terms of design and content. Toronto is the most competitive market in North America, and we want the banners on the front of each section to serve as a reminder to readers that the Post is different and stands out from the pack.

How did that nameplate look in the racks this morning?

The paper jumps out at you. There is no mistaking it for the other papers. Even today when two days into the redesign we had the same main art on front as the competitions. We played it bigger, higher on the page and the vertical banner just added to that boldness. And then the nameplate is above the fold!

A lot of newspapers are obsessed with story and item count on their front pages these days. The NP seems to have a lower story count. What made you guys buck that trend?

In general we have not lowered our story count. We have reduced the size of stories and columns to permit a similar number of stories on the smaller page format. More importantly, we have gotten out of the middle ground. Big stories have become bigger in terms of the amount of space given over to the main story, sidebars, photos and graphics. Lesser more commoditized stories generally from the wires have been cut and packaged more as double column briefs.

By putting the nameplate and section flags on the left, it accentuates the verticality of a page that’s already on a narrow web width. Where are you going to find all of those vertical pictures every day?

From the beginning of the redesign process we all agreed the proposed redesign would have to be flexible. We took existing fronts day after day and redesigned them on the new format. It’s not as inflexible as you might think. Today, on front we ran a five-column (five of six) photo across the top directly beneath the sell box across the top. The horizontal pic next to the vertical banner really compliments each other. The stories fell below the fold and we broke up the denseness with minor secondary art. The previous day, the main art was four of six columns, essentially square. The same flexibility has been exercised on all fronts thus far. In a previous incarnation, the Post had a 1 column index box which occupied the same location as the current nameplate.

From beginning to end, how much time to take to do the redesign?

From inception to detailing to refining, to testing to templating – three months.

What’s the type you’re using?

We are still using the Miller family and Post Sans, a type created for us at launch by the FontBureau.

We had an interesting challenge which motivated this revisit of our design: The Post, being a national paper, is printed on various printing presses across Canada. In Toronto and Vancouver we are 11 and a half inches wide, in the rest of the national sites we are 12 and a half inches wide. Because the Post is a very small staffed paper, we do not have the bodies to remake the paper for these two sizes. So we created a single template which could be blown up 3% nationally and blown down 3% in Toronto and Vancouver. So, for example, the Post is a bigger paper in Montreal than it is in Toronto and in Calgary than it is in Vancouver!

Any complaints?

Readers are writing in praise. We designed for the readers we know. The biggest complaint from readers was Sudoku was on a fold, which we quickly remedied!

** Editor-in-chief Doug Kelly‘s comments and a few prototype pages can be found here.

** Some video on the redesign launch from last night’s Global broadcast in Toronto can be found here.

** The Charles Apple blog about it at Visual Editors is here.

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