Extreme makeover USA TODAY: the importance of design in the world of digital media
Thursday Sep 20, 2012
Lyndsey Wheeler / Staff Writer -
The media landscape of today looks a lot different than it did in 1982. There’s more content out there, information spreads quicker, and sharing is much easier thanks to social media. For brands and publishers alike, this is a good thing because they are able to pass on their messages faster and further. On the other hand, digital content and social media can lead to an information overload. Now, it’s easier than ever for a brand’s message to get lost in the noise. To combat the excess of info, many in the media world are looking to rebrand themselves. On September 14, USA TODAY readers’ eyes turned to a large blue dot gracing the front page and a note from the publisher, Larry Kramer, announcing a rebrand. For almost thirty years, USA TODAY has provided news and visual storytelling on a daily basis. Initially one of the first dailies to use color, USA TODAY eventually fell behind when it came to aesthetics. The brand lacked consistency. In an era of digital innovation and progress, the entire look and feel remained stuck in the 80’s.
So the publication did something about it. For the second time in two years, USA TODAY overhauled printed and digital editions. Aside from the new logo-- a ball that will contain a different icon each day to correspond with the news and will vary in color based on the section—editors plan to use color to highlight key text on more pages. USA TODAY’s digital offerings are changing as well. The online edition will now feel more like a digital newspaper. Readers will flip or click through pages, making it more compatible with current tablet formats. The goal is to delicately balance familiarity and modernity. USA TODAY’s revamp emphasizes the importance of a brand’s design, both digital and in print. Design is one way of creating a new competitive edge and standing out from the rest. Designing a publication is, in a sense, the same as designing a product—making content easier to consume and interact with. In June, Twitter also underwent a subtle but successful rebrand. Marking a new era for the social network, the redesign included shedding the logotype and tweaking the bird image to be flying upward. Removing the tufted feathers on the bird’s head, Twitter sleekened its image without making it completely unrecognizable. Additionally, Twitter made the vector art publicly available on the Internet so that no website or blog could continue using the old, incorrect logo. The USA TODAY and Twitter examples highlight the importance of design, especially in the fast-paced media world. Below are 3 major ways that design helps publishers:
1. Helps brands stand out from the rest by making content more visual, exciting, and narrative.
Recalling the days when the publication was the premier daily newspaper in color, USA TODAY redesigned with aesthetics in mind. With more colors and photographs, the publication hopes to regain its dominance in visual storytelling.
2. Helps brands evolve and adapt from a product standpoint, improving UX, and making content more consumable across devices and platforms.
The USA TODAY redesign is not just confined to the print version. By tailoring the digital product and making it friendlier to new devices such as tablets, USA TODAY demonstrates product evolution. Even using more infographics and icons suggests a commitment to the digital platform. The overall outcome is a cohesive brand that makes sense in the 21st century.
3. Helps to redefine the revenue model based on new technology.
According to Larry Kramer, USA TODAY is trying to redefine the consumption of news and the new digital design is helping the publication achieve that goal. The new digital design gives advertisers more freedom and space without resorting to ineffective banner ads. Considering the state of the struggling news industry, developing new revenue models is critical to the future of the publication. Design enables for a whole new dimension of innovation. While the process of rebranding seems daunting, it is becoming increasingly crucial for those industries affected by digital media. Design is just one of the ways brands can stand out in a world of excess content. By bearing in mind changing methods of content consumption and considering simple aesthetic changes that balance innovation and brand tradition, publishers can hope to redesign as successfully as USA TODAY and Twitter.
This article you are reading was written by Lyndsey for NewsCred Blog and is available for syndication through NewsCred, the world's leading content marketing platform.
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