I’ve never paid for first class. Don’t ever intend to. When the occasional upgrade comes along, though, I certainly enjoy it.
A reader recently asked if I had some tips on how to get a first-class design on a coach budget. Please take your seat, fasten your seat belt and get ready for take-off.
FONTS: You don’t have to go out and shop for fonts when you probably already have some good type faces hidden somewhere in the deep recesses of your system. Go digging—you’ll probably discover that you already have some fonts that will add a touch of class to your look.
THE MAGIC NUMBER: Most fonts licenses allow the use of the fonts on five computers. So if yours is a small operation, that’s an advantage because it will keep your cost low if you find you need to purchase fonts.
SOFTWARE: You don’t have to have the latest version of InDesign or QuarkXPress. If your pagination software is working for you and your designers, fine. But…being behind by two or three generations ( I have one client publisher still using Quark 4) can be dangerous because of lack of support by the software company. And…you can’t run Quark 4 on most newer systems.
LOW-COST TRAINING: Your state press association occasionally offers design workshops and seminars. Take advantage of these opportunities. Send your designers—and demand that they bring back some good ideas.
GET ’EM WHILE THEY’RE YOUNG: One of the realities of publishing a smaller newspaper is that you’re not going to hold onto your younger talent. But you don’t have to pay them veteran wages, either. The beauty of this right now is that that younger and just-graduated editors and designers are usually more adept with new design software.
GET ’EM WHILE THEY’RE LEARNING: Establish an internship program at your paper, where you can take advantage of the opportunity to teach—and learn from—a bright youngster. If there’s a college or university in your area, contact the J school or the art instructor about the possibilities.
KEEP IT SIMPLE: The “first-classiest” designs are those that are simple and consistent in approach. Those designs that fail are often the result of someone just trying too hard. Rid your design of tricks and fads. Often the best way to redesign a paper is to stop doing the bad stuff you’re doing now.
PLAN: Develop a design plan. Create a style guide to protect the plan. Then live by the style guide.
Good design need not be expensive. It takes brainpower more than bucks. And with the right approach, you can move up to first class.
FREE DESIGN EVALUATION: Ed Henninger offers design evaluations—at no charge and with no obligation—to readers of this column. For more information, check the FREEBIE page on Ed’s web site: www.henningerconsulting.com
ED HENNINGER is an independent newspaper consultant and the Director of Henninger Consulting. Offering comprehensive newspaper design services including redesigns, workshops, staff training and evaluations. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. On the web: www.henningerconsulting.com. Phone: 803-327-3322