New design will improve reader experience

By: Deric Rothe, Senior Editor
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A new day dawns for the Placer Herald today. Sleeker, cleaner and easier to read, our new design will have everything you’ve come to love in your community newspaper, along with improvements we’re making now and building on over the next few months. It’s the first substantial change in the paper’s design since March 2002. We’ll be interested in what you think. The first thing you’ll notice is the page width. An inch narrower than before, the new Placer Herald will look slimmer and taller. While the Placer Herald is one of the first in our region to make the switch, many newspapers nationally have done so or are in the process or reducing page width to save money. The page-width reduction offers significant cost savings for us — savings that are crucial in this time of media transition. We’re making the change with our Gold Country Media family of community newspapers as well, including the Auburn Journal, the Press Tribune, Colfax Record, Loomis News and Lincoln News Messenger. Using less newsprint has environmental benefits as well, in line with our longtime use of 40 percent recycled fiber and soy-based inks — rather than petroleum-based — in our products. The second thing you’ll notice is improved legibility. We’ve heard concerns from some older readers that our news stories can be hard to read at times. So when it came time to redesign the paper, we knew we needed to put readers’ eyes at the top of the list. For typeface wonks, the new body text is called “Utopia.” While its name might be a stretch, it’s a lot closer to paradise than Times New Roman. And the amazing thing? Although Utopia appears much larger, we can get as many words on a page as with our current text. You also might notice a change in our nameplate at the top of Page 1. We wanted to keep the tradition of the Placer Herald but give it a contemporary touch. We’ll also introduce a number of navigational aids to help you move through the paper, locate important stories and get key pieces of news and information at a glance. Of course, none of this really matters unless we write compelling stories you care about, craft eye-catching headlines and produce strong photography. That remains our priority. “You design for readers, and to provide a great reader experience,” said Kevin Dilley. “The focus always has to be on the content.” Dilley, a design consultant with Creative Circle Media, has been working with our staffs for nearly six months on the redesign process. Training sessions have focused on photography, headline writing and alternative story formats — some of which you’ve already seen, maybe without knowing it. Solving problems is what we’ve had to do much of over the past week as the design deadline arrived. Thanks to Auburn Journal News Editor Michelle Miller-Carl, Creative Services Manager Sue Morin and IT Manager Daniel Eggen, we’ve been able to solve technology integration issues that always happen when you force computers to talk to each other. We understand it might take a few editions to get used to the changes. We’ll be listening to what you have to say and make adjustments if necessary. Share your comments with us by calling Deric Rothe at (530) 852-0205. You can also call Lauren Weber, associate editor for the Placer Herald at 774-7981 or e-mail, The Placer Herald is your community newspaper, and we intend to keep it that way.