Welcome to Our (Print) Design Update!

In Editor's Notes by Tricia Batemanleave a COMMENT

When I first created the page designs two years ago (time flies!), we hadn’t published a paper yet and were making a lot of educated guesses. We picked a name, made a list of stories we wanted to cover, and leaped into the void.

Now we’ve settled into some routines and have a better sense of who we are and who we want to become. Last summer we took time for an off-site planning meeting and refined our mission statement, clarified our values and goals, and defined our personality:

Our mission is to report essential stories that wouldn’t otherwise be told, informing readers about Knoxville’s critical issues, vital personalities, and unique cultural heritage.

Naturally, there were some characteristics that were getting lost or were out of sync with the old design. The original design elements were inspired by the vintage name and styling of the wings, which felt a bit formal next to some of our news and entertainment coverage. We value our connection to the community, but the design was a little stiff and fussy.

The goal of the design update is to reflect the personality, energy, and accessibility we’re striving for in our content. Plus, from a practical standpoint, the Opinion and News sections didn’t match other sections and the first pages of A&E and Calendar were easily missed. Here’s how those goals will manifest in the new design.

Navigation: We’ve rearranged the contents page and made the section headers consistent from Howdy to ’Bye so it’s easier for you to find the stories you love most.

Photos: We want you to get to know us and vice versa. To that end, you’ll see photos of many columnists next to their bylines, occasional photos and blurbs next to our staff and contributors list, and more faces of you, our fellow Knoxvillians, wherever possible.

Type: Our nonprofit budget still restricts our paper options and the grayness of the paper will remain a challenge to readability. However, we do think the wider letter forms and the little bit of extra space between lines will help. Plus, matching our publication typefaces to the logo creates a more unified look.

Dot Patterns: Little strips of halftone dots remind the viewer of our roots in print and reflect how we want to stay a little rough around the edges.

Irregular Shapes: Boxes that are not quite straight-edged or square create an energy and casualness with a more handmade feel.

Flexibility: Cover-story content can range from entertainment to local personality profiles to serious news. Those designs will still need flexibility to fit the needs of different types of content, but a more stable and clear framework surrounding them should help them both fit in and stand out.

Entry points: Look for callouts throughout that point to deeper content on our website and social media. A&E is introducing more short reviews of local bands, albums, and venues. The Calendar will keep you busy with a Weekend Guide and Quick Picks in addition to our Spotlights.

Design updates may seem superficial, but they are vital to our success. Strong, consistent visuals help us increase the recognition of our name while we’re still growing. Good design supports storytelling, reveals personality, and encourages dialogue. To that end, I hope you enjoy reading these stories that otherwise wouldn’t be told, get to know us better, and let us know what you think.

Art Director Tricia Bateman is a veteran art director with experience ranging from agency work to books and multiple magazines. As art director for HOW, the magazine for graphic design professionals, she was named to Folio magazine’s “Folio: 40,” its annual list of the most influential people in the magazine industry, in 2007. You can reach Tricia at tricia@knoxmercury.com.

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