Natalie Diffloth: Graphic Design, Communication Strategy & Internet Consulting
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Natalie Diffloth News Design
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boston globe calendar section redesign

Contents Page Redesign

Prior to the redesign, the contents page was titled "FYI." The name lacked any sense of urgency; it seemed to suggest that whatever was on the the page could be treated as a relatively unimportant aside ("oh by the way...").

The "Street Shot" photo — a random photo taken on a Boston area street — was unrelated to any of the stories on the page, and for all the reader knew, could have been taken months previously (not that it usually was). Using the space this way was a missed opportunity.

In the prior design, the standard format dictated that three features and four department headings be listed in the contents. But there was a problem with this: the section had only one real feature (the cover story). This left layout editors in the position of having to duplicate headings (listing, for example, Cheap Eats under both "Features" and "Departments) in order to accommodate the fixed design format.

And at the same time the contents list provided descriptions of only half the standard features; the rest had just the feature heading and page number listed — no headline to indicate what the feature might be covering in a given week.

The page had gone a bit logo happy (logo count = 6) and the typography was outdated. The page felt both clunky and busy as a result.

In addition, the staff box took up an unnecessary amount of space, and under the "Listings" heading, over half the event categories (theater, galleries, dance, etc.) were consequently left out.

Solutions Proposed

I removed the name "FYI" as a page heading and simply replaced it with the word "Calendar."

I eliminated the "Street Shot" feature and replaced it with a feature that had previously been located on the centerspread, "Advance Billing." Because Advance Billing highlighted an upcoming event of some significance, there were nearly always good quality promotional photos available. This seemed like a good solution for several reasons. It lent a sense of timeliness and importance to the opening page of the section — it made it immediately useful! This change also freed up the photo department from a rather mundane obligation (never pass up an opportunity to make photographers happy).

In the contents listing, I got rid of the distinction between "features" and "departments." Then in the list of overall features, I placed the cover story headline first and set it out with oversized type. Below the cover story I listed the rest of the feature titles, plus their headlines and page numbers. This gave readers an at-a-glance overview of what the week's section contained.

I eliminated all the logos except for one, and updated the typography.

By reducing the size of the feature listings and staff box size, I was able to accommodate nearly twice the number of event categories under the Listings heading, making it easier for readers to jump directly to the category of events that interested them.

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