Three Principles of Effective News Design
News design is a process of organizing news content on a paper page, usually based on graphic and editorial guidelines and objectives. Main editorial objectives are the arranging of news events by category and sequence of relevance, while graphic considerations include balance, readability and unobtrusive integration of advertising. The final visual presentation of the news layout depends largely on the style of publication that it will be appearing in. While newspapers often have strict guidelines for how they plan their news pages, online news pages may be less predictable because of their lack of a printed version.
News design often reflects the culture of the society in which it appears. For example, a front page of a major newspaper often contains graphic photographs taken in an outdoor or studio environment with dramatic lighting and a bold color scheme. Such a setting is quite different from the news design process used by feature newspapers or magazine publishers. Their news pages are designed to exhibit a serious, professional tone. The layout and choice of photographs or images often have significant social impact.
The work of a freelance newspaper designer can be much more diverse than the strictures of design found in most newsrooms. There are some design professionals who design exclusively for newspapers, while others have a portfolio of work that demonstrates their ability to adapt their skills to a wide variety of publications. Some newspapers require design elements to appear at least three times on the main page of the paper, whereas others may allow for more freedom in visual content placement. Freelance designers also have access to smaller papers that do not fall within the mainstream publications. These sources offer unique opportunities to the innovative freelance newspaper designer.
Another important principle of effective news design relates to the contrast between text and images. In a typical newspaper, the text appears above the image on the screen or picture plane. This has a profound psychological effect, creating a sense of distance can greatly influence readers’ reaction to a story.
A related principle of effective web design relates to reading gravity. The principle is that readers tend to focus their attention more on the text within a story when it appears at the top of the display, compared to the next paragraphs. The reading gravity of a story can be increased by placing sub-headings and bullet points below the text. These can be effective tools for increasing the perceived reading gravity of a web page.
A third key principle of effective news design relates to the arrangement and organization of words within a story. Most newspapers follow a logical structure for the introduction of a story. For instance, an article that begins with “A shocking discovery” usually draws the reader’s attention immediately to the most important information. However, if the same story were to begin with “A story to surprise you,” readers would likely be less likely to focus their attention. Many newspapers and online publications have successfully used clever trickery like the aforementioned sub-headings and bullet points to ensure that the readership will always be conscious of the organization and flow of the content.