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Thursday, September 13, 2012

USA Today Redesign: What Do You Think?

Posted by on Thu, Sep 13, 2012 at 12:51 PM

Mashable provides a preview of the new, redesigned USA Today. It looks like they gave a graphic designer carte blanche and forgot to tell him to leave room for the news when he was done:

The paper itself has more color, more pull quotes, more images — including photos, charts and illustrations of columnists, the latter of which is designed to give the paper a more “personalized” feel — anything that will help USA Today convey stories as efficiently as possible. If a story about corn futures can be told just as well in a single, colorful chart captioned by a quote from an analyst as it can in a 2,000-word story, USA Today will do it...The paper is littered with incentives to tune in online for additional coverage. Readers are also encouraged to watch referenced videos on their smartphones by scanning QR codes printed in the paper. Letters to the editor have been made over to feature comments left by readers on Facebook, Twitter and USA Today‘s website. As such, USA Today‘s print and digital properties no longer feel like separate entities, but in conversation with each other.

I kind of like the second part of that quote, about the relationship between print and digital. I'm not crazy about QR codes—they're ugly and nobody uses them, even though marketers love them—but I do think incorporating tweets and comments into the letters to the editor page is smart. (The Atlantic recently redesigned their front of book to include digital commentary, and I think they have one of the best letters to the editor sections in media right now.)

But the first part of the quote gives me a serious sense of deja vu. People have been complaining about USA Today's blurbicle style of fact-less reporting for decades, and now they're pushing that concept even further. The new front page looks less like a collection of pieces of writing and more like a website designed by someone who saw a newspaper once, a few years ago. The Huffington Post often contains more information in its splash page than this mockup of a USA Today front page. But enough about me: What do you think?


Comments (19) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
yelahneb 1
We're Eating More Beets!
Posted by yelahneb on September 13, 2012 at 12:55 PM · Report this
Jason Josephes 2
Man, my dad is gonna hate this.
Posted by Jason Josephes on September 13, 2012 at 12:59 PM · Report this
emma's bee 3
It looks less newsy than Highlights for Children.
Posted by emma's bee on September 13, 2012 at 1:00 PM · Report this
mrbarky 4
Seems like a smart idea. At least they're trying rather than just throwing up a paywalled website.
Posted by mrbarky on September 13, 2012 at 1:02 PM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 5
It looks more like Imperial Japan Today
Posted by Urgutha Forka on September 13, 2012 at 1:02 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 6
The still print USA Today? America's "Feel Good" newspaper?
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on September 13, 2012 at 1:04 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 7
@ 1, I thought the same thing.

@ Paul, people scan QR codes all the time. I like your stuff most of the time, but every now and then you say some very uninformed things.
Posted by Matt from Denver on September 13, 2012 at 1:11 PM · Report this
Posted by gnome on September 13, 2012 at 1:14 PM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 9
They should make it free. Otherwise, they're just swimming against the swirl in the drain.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on September 13, 2012 at 1:25 PM · Report this
Sorry Paul I don't let these new trivial changes distract me from important news, just like you!!

You get the reference I'm making?!
Posted by michael bell on September 13, 2012 at 1:30 PM · Report this
Fnarf 11
QR codes are the god-damndest stupidest thing ever invented. Most of them can't even be used, or are attached to idiotic things like emails instead of a link. Best of all is when I get a QR code in an email on my phone. How am I supposed to scan my phone with my phone? All I want is a link; correction -- I don't want anything, there has never been a QR code that linked to something interesting.

I used to read "USA Today" 25 years ago when I had to calculate all my own baseball statistics and they were the only source available with weekly OPS and SLG. Ah, those pre-internet days, how I do not miss them. I haven't looked at USA Today in print or online in a decade.
Posted by Fnarf on September 13, 2012 at 1:34 PM · Report this
It's a tough job keeping pace with modern illiteracy.
Posted by Proteus on September 13, 2012 at 1:46 PM · Report this
dirac 13
I used a QR code for the overpriced movie ticket I bought a couple months ago. It did have utility since I didn't have to print anything out and skipped the lines. They don't always have to encode links, but maybe a real use won't be so supersexy for you people. And I think with some creative steganography, QR codes could look much better than they are presented now.
Posted by dirac on September 13, 2012 at 1:48 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 14

Where is the button to vote All Of The Above (tm)?
Posted by Will in Seattle on September 13, 2012 at 2:00 PM · Report this
Dougsf 15
Advertisers love putting QR codes on the ads on the train here. Hardly scientific, but I have yet to personally witness anyone scan one. They'd have better luck hiring someone to semaphore their message in each car than to hope someone walks over to their ad and holds their phone up to it.
Posted by Dougsf on September 13, 2012 at 2:13 PM · Report this
Fnarf 16
@15, at that link I posted, there's a hilarious QR code on a big ad in a bus or train that says "Do you have bedbugs? Scan here!" which seems like something you wouldn't want to do in public. Even better would be an ad that says "Scan here to find out how to get rid of chlamydia."
Posted by Fnarf on September 13, 2012 at 2:29 PM · Report this
mikethehammer 17

I think USA Today probably experienced a huge drop in "readership" once fantasy sports players were able to go online for their stat-keeping. I always liked that sports/media columnist they had though. No idea what his name was, just that the little headshot pic that appeared next to his piece bore a striking resemblance to Charles Manson.
Posted by mikethehammer on September 13, 2012 at 2:37 PM · Report this
treacle 18
Where's the button to vote: "They still print USA Today? Those poor fools."

Also, Proteus @12 wins.
Posted by treacle on September 13, 2012 at 3:03 PM · Report this
Dougsf 19
@15 - I think I've got a great sales pitch for the makers of Magnum condoms. Economy, brace yourself.
Posted by Dougsf on September 13, 2012 at 3:18 PM · Report this

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