Volksblad — a 21,025-circulation Afrikaans-language daily based in Bloemfontein, South Africa — launched a redesign today.

On the left is Monday’s front page. On the right is today’s launch edition.


Let’s see what I can tell you about the redesign…

  • This redesign was started more than a year ago by Australian-based redesign consultant Peter Ong and then completed by Media24 typographical editor Arlene Prinsloo.
  • I was involved in this redesign very slightly — mostly in an advisory capacity. I tweaked the nameplate just a bit and I built a number of sample skyboxes for them. What you see here was what evolved from those samples.
  • That bold, new headline font you’re seeing there is Boomer. Boomer Condensed Black, to be precise. The serif headlines are Zocalo.
  • The paper retained Nimrod for its body copy, but increased it in size from 8.25 to 9 points.
  • The nameplate itself is Interstate Black Mono, I believe.

Much of this information is cited in a story in today’s edition. The good news: You can find that story here. The bad news: It’s in Afrikaans.

Here’s a larger look at the new front.

That’s the latter of today’s two editions. Arlene also sent me this photo showing the North Cape edition, showing a different lead photo and a blue skybox, rather than the yellow one.

Take note of the paper’s longtime slogan, Nuus met mening. If you’re like me, you’re reading that as “News with meaning.” But we’d both be wrong. In fact, “mening” means “opinion.”

So the slogan is more appropriately translated as:

News with commentary.

Here’s a closer look at the old nameplate…

…and the new one.

After spending a little time with this nameplate last February, I got a bit of a thrill when Arlene posted this photo on her Facebook page Monday.

Oh, that’s just so cool. That sign, presumably, is replacing the one that hung above the front door of the building when I visited that paper exactly 51 weeks ago.

Here are inside pages two and three…


…and pages four and five.


Page six is the opinion page. Page seven is more news.


Page eight is entertainment news. Kollig means “spotlight.”

This is a very small daily, so that’s about it for the news section. Page nine starts the business section, which is produced in Johannesburg by a separate division that builds the biz sections for all three Afrikaans-language dailies plus the big national Sunday paper.

I show you this one larger because I built a number of prototypes for my friends at Sake24 during my last few weeks there in March. Quite a bit of what I proposed made it to print, I see.

Here is page ten, an inside biz page…

…and here is page 11, the stocks page. This one is nearly exactly what I prototyped for them eight months ago.

And here is the sports page.

Here’s a poster Volksblad is using Tuesday to promote its changes.

Instead of “News with commentary,” this says “NEW with commentary.” A pun in Afrikaans.

The paper has also been running a teaser campaign over the past few weeks…

…and, as of last night, had posted a survey on its web site asking readers what they thought of the new design.

The choices are:

  • It looks great!
  • I do not like it.
  • I have yet to decide.

The redesign was getting pretty good marks from the 17 folks who responded…

…considering it was only just after midnight or so there when I checked. Readers hadn’t yet seen the new Volksblad.

And, because I have it, here is a picture the paper’s copy desk — they call them subeditors there — working on the launch edition last night.

Thanks to Arlene for sending me some of these pictures and posting the rest on Facebook.

A little background…

Media24’s large national Sunday Afrikaans-language paper, Rapport, redesigned in October 2009. I had nothing at all to do with that redesign. However, I was in Johannesburg working with the chain’s news artists at the time, so I worked on and edited pieces that appeared in the first few redesigned editions.

The three Afrikaans-language dailies are now rolling out their own redesigns. One of the group editors told me once that they’re not really redesigns. “Call them tweaks,” he suggested. Even today’s redesign story says something about how they tried not to “reinvent the wheel” here.

Of the three, Volksblad is changing the most, so I don’t feel bad calling it a redesign. Here is what the other two looked like today, with their current designs.


On the left is die Burger of Cape Town, circulation 59,808. On the right is Beeld of Johannesburg, circulation 73,344. Both will also unveil “tweaks” over the next few weeks. Part of this project is aimed at standardizing fonts and other elements like editorial page formats throughout the three papers.

I looked over a few new Beeld pages during my time there but I built quite a few prototypes for die Burger, including new looks for arts and entertainment and books pages and I advised on a few other aspects. I’m curious to see how all that played out in the seven months since I departed.

In addition, the sports and business sections within those papers — which are produced in separate units — are also making visual “tweaks”. I proposed a change for the sports page header and, like I said, I built quite a few prototypes for the business section, called Sake24. Since then, however, both the sports and business editors have moved on to other jobs. So I wasn’t sure how much of what I proposed was making it to print.

I traveled to Cape Town in August 2009 and spent three weeks teaching infographics and design to the Media24 folks. The chain brought me back in October for two months of consulting and day-to-day work with artists, editors and designers.

A year ago this week, Media24 brought me back for a third stay — this time, for five months of work. I worked there through the start of April, primarily consulting, teaching and coaching for the chain’s infographics operation.

You can find all my South African blog posts from 2010 and 2011 here.

All of my 2009 adventures are archived over in my old VizEds blog, here.