Perhaps it’s a redesign. Perhaps it’s just a tweak.

Either way, the front page of USA Today looks pretty spiffy. At least in PDF format. I’m 8,000 miles away from seeing a copy for myself, dammit, and it’s driving me nuts.

I have to tell you, folks. We all take USA Today for granted. You don’t realize how much you miss it until you can’t buy it for two or three months at a time.

Here, again, is yesterday’s front page (right) and a Monday front from a year-and-a-half ago (left):

I wrote about the design tweak yesterday. But today, USA Today’s vice president for product development and design, Jeff Dionise, explained the thoughts behind some of the changes.

Jeff writes:

Hi Charles,

I have been interested in finding a way to achieve some of the power the original USA Today design had, but in a clean contemporary way. I collaborated with another staff designer, Jim Sergent. USA Today has only been redesigned one other time around 10 years ago.

I am most excited about:

Stronger grid

I like the way the logo defines the width of the centerpiece. I think it makes the centerpiece feel exclusive and gives the page focus. This was lost in the last redesign.

Here is Tuesday’s front page:

Oh, man! Super Bowl magazine editions! Is there anyone out there who can pick up a copy of the Packers edition for me? Please e-mail me.

Anyway, back to our topic…

Larger logo

I feel the larger logo commands the appropriate power to hold the various elements together. There were days when the smaller logo got lost and competed with the other squares on the page.

Newsline

Newsline is much more “scannable” with larger, “newsier” headline entry points.

White space

More white space throughout. Leading, gutters and other areas between elements.

Sans serif font

We introduced a sans serif font to add impact to centerpiece treatments and labels. The previous redesign implemented a “one font” approach.

Oh, and that font, by the way: Prelo

The best samples of Prelo I can find tonight via Google (click any of these for a larger view):

Seems like a fabulous typeface. Both the serif and sans-serif varieties look fresh and modern.

Anyway, back to Jeff…

Testing

We audience-tested this design with a very large sample It was an overwhelming positive reaction. So far, our audience feed back post launch has been 100 percent positive.

This is a compliment to [former managing editor] Richard Curtis, as his original work continues to inspire and live on. I think the attached “before and after” helps demonstrate the intended improvement.

Find my earlier post about the USA Today design change here.