The Enterprise of Beaumont, Texas — circulation 23,669 — launched a major redesign last month.
On the left, here, is a Wednesday page from last May. On the right is the redesign launch front page from Wednesday, Feb. 18.
Click those — or any pages here today — for a larger look.
Enterprise editor Tim Kelley tells us:
To make this effort doable with our resources, we kept the body type, basic page architecture and main news hed face and concentrated on high-profile improvements and simplification throughout.
A closer look at the debut front:
To help make this happen, the Enterprise hired Washington-based editing and design consultant J. Ford Huffman.
J.Ford was part of the team that created the original prototypes for USA Today. He later served as as a content editor for USA Today‘s Life section and then managing editor for the Rochester (N.Y.) Times-Union, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle and then the Gannett News Service. He then spent eight years as deputy managing editor of USA Today, art-directing page one.
With Tim’s permission, J. Ford walked us through the redesign process:
Publisher Mark Adkins asked me to see and read the Enterprise and to work with editor Tim Kelly, managing editor Ashley Sanders, news editor Vic Odegar and the rest of the staff – to help develop ideas for ways to refine the strong, local print brand.
I suggested three goals, each about simplifying things. Adkins and Kelly agreed:
- Refine the look and feel and the organization, for reader appeal and navigation.
- Streamline the layout process for the enterprising (pun intended) but small newsroom staff.
- Give staffers more time to present news creatively instead of spending time producing elements such the art-filled skyline promo.
For two days early last November I visited Beaumont in order to get a sense of the character of the city, the readers (I attended a post-Election Day party and a major charity’s fundraising dinner), and the energy in the newsroom. In nearly nonstop discussions with staffers – starting with reporters – a consensus and a plan became apparent.
The rest of my input – from mid November through mid February – was in conversations on the telephone and in email notes.
We looked at the archives and agreed that the Enterprise logotype, which is historic and therefore authoritative, ought to stay.
The existing logotype:
We decided to put a bigger Beaumont back into the nameplate – as a visual way of affirming the Enterprise’s commitment to local readers and the organizaton’s pride in being a part of the community.
After we agreed on placement and size, editor Vic Odegar and I tweaked and tightened the letter spacing in the existing “Enterprise” — and also took care with the new “Beaumont” and the section and topic words’ letters.
In developing at least a dozen thumbnail sketches that I could present to staffers as initial idea-starters on my first day in Beaumont, I looked at page after page, in online and on newsprint – and was inspired by the indicia, which stacked Beaumont atop Enterprise.
How would the stack look at the top of page one? Would the two lines’ depth have impact? Would making “Beaumont” prominent work as a design and as a civic and brand statement? And could the two-line logotype style work on section flags? What if the “Enterprise” remained black but the “Beaumont” were a different color?
Kelly and Odegar tried a variety of colors from the local environment’s palette but ultimately we opted for gray because of its journalistic and classic feel and because there’s plenty of color on the rest of the page.
To ensure that the color decision was based on reality rather than images on a screen or copy paper, Vic prepared prototype pages that were put on the presses – twice.
Here’s J.Ford’s sketch for the new-and-improved Sunday nameplate…
…and here’s the one that sat atop the first new Sunday edition.
Tim tells us:
We phased in some other cleanup of both design and content.
A reduction in the number of typefaces we were using for centerpiece and feature heds, the elimination of color in those heds and the introduction of size constraints, both for news heds and centerpieces (which often were larger than news lede heds).
At the same time that we were trying for more discipline with headline design, we targeted label heds on feature stories, which disguised weak wordcraft with large type. We’ve been on a similar whack-a-mole effort with superfluous colons.
Elimination of the heavy use of red throughout the paper, which looked like the last notice from a collection agency.
To emphasize our regional reach and appeal (and help sales), we added place labels to any staff story in our non-Beaumont coverage area. For Beaumont-based stories, we stick to theme labels.
Here’s the entire front page of the first Sunday front page.