Design plays an incredibly important role in drawing people into stories and encouraging them to keep reading. Just as the covers of books affect how likely someone is to pick up and read that novel, the same concept applies to articles. Both online and in print we, at the Clypian, have worked to modernize and update our layout, starting during my sophomore year.
Using Abode InDesign for print layout and WordPress for digital, my staff and I have changed the visual appearance of out stories drastically. During my sophomore year, I was in charge of design for the news section and, since the start of my junior year, I have had a final say in the design of every section.
During my sophomore year, the Editor-in-Chief and I decided to add sidebars and grayscale boxes to our print layout. We also worked to create more diversity in where we placed photos on the page. These seems like minor changes, but it was able to break up the previous monotony of our layout exceptionally well.
Prior to the introduction of grayscale boxes and sidebars, many of our page layouts, in every section including mine, looked like this. The pages would often have a single article and a big accompanying photo. This page design quickly became too repetitive.
So, starting in the fall of 2018, we began to make design changes. This issue is one of the first examples of a news section I created with the new formatting ideas. Looking back, the right page could have benefited from more spacing, however, the layout itself provided readers with a much more interesting view. Plus, we were able to fit more information onto a page.
Along with the addition of sidebars and boxes, the other editors and I began trying out different ways to format photos alongside articles. We wanted to move away from only having photos as headers. So we tried layouts with the photos acting as a sidebar, like the one on the left from my section as News Editor. Or, the one on the right, with multiple photos interspersed, from one of my first issues as Editor-in-Chief.
One change we began to experiment with in my first couple issues as Editor-in-Chief was the addition of pull out quotes. In this section, designed by my News Editor successor, a pull out quote, a different image placing, and a text box were used. The combination of these multiple techniques, led to a more unique design, which stood out more than the typical one article, one heading photo.
Another design change that I made as Editor-in-Chief was the modification of our staff list. For my first two years on the Clypian staff, the staff list was in a box on the Table of Contents page (left, below). When I became Editor-in-Chief, we moved it into a sidebar in the Opinion section (right, below).
Now that our paper has moved fully online due to COVID-19 and we are focusing more effort into the website, online design is especially important. Online, I have been working to make our stories more visually interesting by adding headings when necessary, pull out quotes, and embedded pictures.
Before we began to create more engaging and appealing designs online, many of our online articles looked like this one, that I wrote. There is not anything particularly wrong with the wrong with this, however the design is mundane and not very engaging. So, we made some changes to our designs.
In this article, that I published for two of my page editors, we included a pull out of the most notable quote in the article. This allowed us to place emphasis on an important part of the article, while also making the layout more visually appealing.
When I was in WordPress laying out this article that I wrote about the second night of racial justice protests, I thought that it was important to include photos throughout. This served a dual purpose. The images broke up what would have been a wall of text and they helped tell the story visually. As a result, the article was easier to follow, more engaging to read, and helped create an even more accurate image of what unfolded that night.
In laying out this article about clashing protests on the Fourth of July, I reached a similar conclusion as with the last one. The article would benefit both in comprehension and aesthetically from photos interspersed throughout. In this article, I also added subheadings throughout the article to provide more organization and context.
However, online design is not just about the layout of individual stories. The design of the website itself is also important, which is why I worked to update the website as a whole when I became Editor-in-Chief. A detailed explanation of that work can be found in the Web & Social Media category.
Photo Gallery Design
Another part of the design work I have done digitally is laying out photo galleries to make them tell a more cohesive story and look more visually appealing. This was particularly important when I was publishing my photos from racial justice protests.
Sometimes, I determined that articles themselves would benefit from a photo gallery embedded. This photo gallery is of the arrests of several members of the alt-right for assault, on Labor Day. I laid out the images in a way that was graphically appealing and it helped tell the story.
Other times, I created a separate photo gallery, as well as embedding some of the images. With these photos, I decided to break them up into three categories (2 are visible here), and I laid each category out in a slightly different way to add variety. These decisions led to the creation of a visually appealing and informative photo gallery.
Part of the revamping of our social media platforms included looking at design, particularly on Instagram. This past fall I worked with the social media team to create a graphics template, so that all our announcements that didn’t have a good image option, would look the similar.
Here are two of the graphics we posted on Instagram in 2020 after creating the graphics template. We decided that the ideal was to have similar, but not completely identical graphics. So, the fonts are the same and the graphics have the same color palette, but color is used differently with each one.
Another thing I challenged my social media team to do on Instagram was use photos whenever possible and not screenshots of announcements. For example, when new sports information was released my social media team put together this spread of sports photos to post, instead of just the announcement.