Both papers have shared a common style before the redesign. As you can see by the pages above, that continues with the redesign. The two editions also share some content as well as some entire pages.
For this post, we'll focus on The MetroWest Daily News. But before we get going, here's a look at Milford's front page and Local front.
Below are the pages before and after the redesign. The before is on the left. You'll notice the redesign is more of a tweak than a full-fledged redesign. All new fonts are used.
"The design looks great," said Richard Lodge, editor-in-chief of GateHouse New England's West unit. "We've been pretty bogged down last week with the rollout of GoodNews 4 and the new design."
Lodge is referring to the papers' new front-end and paginatin system, which is what made this redesign launch so challenging. The digital-first system replaces QuarkXPress. That means a ton of work went into translating new Quark styles for the redesign into GN4.
Pat Capobianco, design director for the two papers, answered some questions for GHNewsroom.com:
What were you hoping to accomplish with the redesign?
The redesign process of our two dailies dovetailed into our conversion to GN4, a PC-based newspaper editorial content management system. The visual changes afforded us fresher typography and streamlined styles, while maintaining the unique personality of the papers.
What kind of responsibilities, if any, changed in the newsroom as part of the redesign?
While not a direct result of the redesign, probably the biggest change in newsroom responsibilities is that some key editors (opinion, business) are now paginating their own pages in GN4. These pages used to be done by our pagination department. So those editors have had to familiarize themselves with style particulars they hadn’t dealt with as much when they were sending pages to pagination.
What was the most significant change and why?
The switch from paginating pages in Quark on a Mac to building pages in GN4 on a PC has been a significant change. Because GN4 uses a GNML mark-up language, all existing stylesheets in Quark had to be translated into that language. This was especially challenging at the beginning due to our total lack of knowledge of GNML. We’re slowly learning more about this, but it’s very different from the Quark environment and a bit tougher to get things to look exactly as they should. However, the streamlined styles of the GateHouse design helped us as we prepared to change over to GN4.
How have readers and advertisers responded to the changes?
Not sure about advertisers' reactions, but editor Richard Lodge has fielded several calls and emails from some of our older readers, who appreciate the easier-to-read type.
Here's an email from a satisfied reader:
Richard, I had to write to you (I'm not one that usually takes the time to write unless something really really strikes me.) I must say, I LOVE IT! As soon as I looked at that page (without reading your little note on the front page I might add!) I was so impressed at the set up and the font and the size. Thank you to you and the staff for always look for ways to improve our local paper.
If you had to do it again, what would you do differently?
It would have been helpful and much less stressful if we’d had more time to develop some mastery in GN4 before going live. While it functions like Quark in some ways, it’s generally very different as one must be mindful of code and continually adjusting the code rather than just making a few clicks. It would have been lovely to take advantage of the fine front-end work done by Ray Johnson as he implemented your design. But instead, we had to cede control of styles, templates and library items to the GN4 folks while we attempted to learn how to use the program.
Nice work, Pat. I'm sure
Joe Greco is corporate design director for GateHouse Media.
Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.